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Qatar to produce $1b movie on Prophet

Scholars say movie to foster world’s understanding of genuine Islamic values

  • By Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief
  • Published: 00:45 December 19, 2012
  • Gulf News

Manama: A $1 billion epic movie on the life and teachings of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is set to be produced by Doha-based Al Noor Holding.

The media company said that the movie endorsed by Islamic scholars, including Yusuf Al Qaradawi, the Chairman of the International Union of Muslim Scholars, would be in seven parts and would be produced according to the highest international standards using the most sophisticated technical and audio-visual systems.

The company on Monday said that the team of experts has finished writing the scenario after overcoming a series of artistic and dramatic challenges.

The approval of leading Muslim scholars was necessary for the company to move ahead with the movie production.

“We are aware of the fact that this (film) is a difficult and a challenging task,” Al Noor Holding said in September. “This is why we have consulted many famous Islamic scholars, among them Dr Al Qaradawi, who will guide us on the Sharia aspect of the film.”

Under strict Islamic laws, prophets cannot be depicted on screen or in print and the movie will be no exception.

However, his companions will appear in the movie screen, in a decision that breaks with long-held views that their status among Muslims does not allow their depiction or embodiment on screen either.

At the media opportunity in Doha on Monday, Al Qaradawi said that he conducted his own research and that he consulted with 30 senior scholars on showing the Prophet’s companions in a movie.

“Following the studies and the consultations, I have come to the conclusion that there was nothing wrong with showing the companions in dramatic work,” he said. “I used to oppose the idea as we have formed our own cognitive image and characterization of the prophets and companions and that we should not distort them with human images. However, following long researches and studies, I realised that we have been excessive in our approach and that there is no text or reference in the Quran or in the Prophet’s Tradition and Sayings that does not allow it,” he said in remarks published by Qatari daily Al Sharq on Tuesday.

A TV drama broadcast during Ramadan about the lives of Hassan and Hussain, the grandsons of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), caused stirring controversy after it showed some of his companions.

Al Azhar, the highest Sunni institution based in Cairo, warned in a statement for all television channels not to screen the drama, arguing that the embodiment of the Prophet’s companions was religiously forbidden. Lawsuits were filed against the production company and the satellite provider for producing and broadcasting the drama.

However, anticipating similar reactions, Tariq Al Swaidan, a Kuwaiti Islamist scholar and head of the consultancy team, said at the conference on Monday that recent international studies indicated that the new generations have new ways of gathering and obtaining information and that they no longer relied on traditional media.

The consultants have identified 57 messages that the movie would convey to the Western audience, he said in remarks published by the Qatari media.

“There is a need to understand the mentality and mindset of other people,” he said.

The movie will be in English, but it will be translated into several languages to ensure an international outreach, a company official said.

Nihad Awad, a co-founder of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and its executive director, said that around 750 movies with negative messages about Islam or Prophet Mohammad were produced by Hollywood in the last decade.

The movie on Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) will have a special significance in helping address the negative impressions and impressions within Western society as a result of the negative portrayal of Muslims and Islam, he said, quoted by Qatari daily Al Sharq.

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