"American Ramadan" Film Explores Fasting and Faith, Seeks to Build Bridges

September 6, 2006

Source: Voice of America News


On September 6, 2006 the Voice of America News reported, "Later this month, Muslims around the world will begin a month-long fast to observe Ramadan. During this time, they fast all day long and then eat in the evening. A Muslim-American filmmaker has chosen this as his subject in a new film about how five American Muslim families practice their faith and how non-Muslims relate to their traditions. The director of the feature-length documentary American Ramadan is Naeem Randhawa, who was born in Pakistan, raised in Canada and, for the past eight years, has made Dallas, Texas his home. As a thoroughly American Muslim, he was distressed by the distorted image of Islam many Americans have, partly because of conflict in the Middle East and terrorism, but also because of negative images in movies and television shows. He wanted to find a way to bridge the gap between people of his faith and other Americans, most of whom, he says, hold the same basic family values as Muslims. Randhawa says he thought a documentary film might be a way of showing how traditions that are fundamental to his faith are similar to traditions in other religions. Speaking to VOA, he says the fasting Muslims do during Ramadan seemed an ideal subject. 'I was trying to find a platform that would seek to build bridges and look for commonalities between Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus ... Really, just about every religion has some form of fasting,' he said. 'So, this seemed to me like a great platform to bring different people come to the table and have a dialogue about what is common to all of us.' Randhawa says he also wanted to show that Muslims in the United States are not all the same. For this reason, he says, he deliberately looked for a variety of subjects to use in the film."