Quite a few films have been produced by now which focus on the interracial, intercultural and interethnic issues between couples and a relationship can be made or marred in the process. Ae Fond Kiss directed by Ken Loach, starred Atta Yaqub as Casim and Eva Birthistle as Roisin. This movie is an intricate demonstration of religion, culture and self-identity in all spheres of life. Loach has tactfully painted a love story in the premises of Glasgow, showing the collective problems from a Pakistani family background to a Catholic religion. Ina nutshell, the movie ends uniting the lovers when Casim leaves his family and prefers Roisin as the love of his life.
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The movie can be viewed critically from many aspects it highlights indirectly through various characters. Firstly, we will analyze how Islam and West have been portrayed generally in comparison to each other. The father, Tariq and Mrs. Khan have been portrayed as devout Muslims who carry out their religious obligations on an individual and community level as well. However, they as parents have been unable to inculcate the same values in their children despite their wishes. Casim, Tahara and Rukhsana have core Islamic beliefs but each child varies in religious practice. Islam in the West is looked down at by British; the reputation of Islam has been mucked by the unfortunate aftermath of 9/11. The true message of Islam has been distorted in the West due to the practices of weak Muslims. The Westerner’s have made sure that they pinpoint Islamic controversies in the context of these practices instead of going by the book. Islam is a code of life which takes into consideration emotional, social, political, economic, psychological and spiritual needs of a human being. It does not differentiate between society and religion whereas in the West, society and culture are distinct entities. The second generation immigrants in foreign countries end up in an identity crisis due aforementioned issues. For them, religion is not clearly defined neither acted on according to the Sunnah perfectly. Tahara and Casim in Ae Fond Kiss, were definitely suffering from an identity crisis on a personal and social level. The reasons for this do not lie in Islam being intolerant of other cultures and religions rather the reason is in the youth and the parents in not having scientifically concrete knowledge about all practices in Islam (Richardson, 4-8).
Casim’s father and mother tried somehow in making their children God-conscious and fearing. Analysis of the movie suggests that Roisin was not as religious as the Pakistani family. She belonged to a Catholic background however; she was not in a state of stereotypical regret that Christian women are after being divorced. When Casim and Roisin were on the Spanish coast trip, they talked about the similarities that existed between their religions. However, Casim’s verbatim demonstrates that he had spiritual values in bits as compared to Roisin. Casim’s family firmly believed in the Oneness of God Almighty where as Roisin was detached from religious activities. The only main link that has been shown is when Roisin was uncertain about the relationship as for a full-employment job, she was asked by the Parish Priest to give up on Casim. Roisin coming from an individualist society did not believe whole-heartedly in God as the Creator and Sustainer of the people on the planet. Rather, to her in a relationship, self-respect and dignity were more important than anything else. Casim, had a more perpetual view of the relationship as per his belief in God. He wanted a life partner who he could grow old with. It has always been seen that Muslim authorities are called the bad cops rather than any other religious authorities. By writing about the cruelty and arrogance of Parish Priest, Paul Lavetry intended to show that it’s not always the perceived misconceptions about Islam that complicate a predicament, figures from the other culture or religion can equally worsen community relations and reputation. It is not just Muslims who are prohibited to marry people from another religion; vice versa should also be considering before stigmatizing Islamic teachings of forced marriages. Building his opinion in a historical context, Harold Coward says, “Muslims probably have a far greater knowledge of all other religions than any other groupâ€¦”. Perhaps it can be said that second-generation immigrants or other Muslim youth and parents in various parts of the world do not know the potential they have as Muslims. In tolerating and respecting other religions, Prophet Mohammad p.b.u.h. set a paradigm for the believers and the non-believers to follow despite the fact that his main aim in life was to spread the light of Islam to non-Muslims (Schimdt-Leukal & Ridgeon, 17-60).
Islam values universal beliefs until they are in relation to Quran and Sunnah. The Muslims have to implement Shahadah, Salat, Zakat, Fasting and Hajj as the four pillars of Islam. They have to believe in the prophets who brought messages to humanity at various junctures in history. The socio-economic issues in a Muslim community are solved according to Shariah and handed by the Ulema and Fuqaha. However, the Catholic beliefs are dissimilar in some ways. The common grounds are fasting, charity and belief in the unity of God. Beliefs related to humanity that spring out of Islam and Muslim practice can be concluded as follows:
No matter which religion or race, human beings have to respect and tolerate each other.
Religion cannot be forced on anyone under any circumstance.
God Almighty will determine what is right and wrong in the Hereafter. In this life, the believers are commanded to search for the truth and fulfill their spiritual needs which will ultimately lead them to the Quran as the Last Scripture.
The Muslims should employ principle of reciprocity when it comes to intercultural dealings; however, Islam always teaches piety and goodness hence, forgiveness has to be practiced.
There is no enmity between believers and non-believers in daily life encounters; the differences should be embraced and the right to equal citizenship awarded in any part of the world. God says in the Quran, “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah and be just witnesses and let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just: that is nearer to piety, and fear Allah. Verily, Allah is Well-Acquainted with what you do” (The Noble Quran 5:8).
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The Muslim British Pakistani family did not want a goree for their son as marriage with a non-Muslim is not allowed in Islam. However, religious beliefs are blurred into cultural beliefs. The second immigrant youth viewed this forced arranged marriage. Casim when frustrated with life could only think of ‘should, should and should. . .’ requirements that were exacted on him. Seen from a pristine, Islamic point of view, Casim’s parents had promised the Jasmine’s parents back in Pakistan that their son will marry their daughter. Casim under religious obligations only had to listen to his parents for an eternal reward if he could. However, Islam does not mandate marrying the partner parents choose. Tariq and Mrs. Khan were more worried about the social consequences i.e. the name of the family when they found out that their son liked an Irish teacher. This movie is set out to challenge the prejudiced and gendered beliefs that Muslims and Christians alike hold.
The concept of Muslim masculinity and femininity are often discussed through heated arguments. Liberal and progressive Muslims, in the light of their limited knowledge and insight of comparative religion tend to favor other religions. The liberty and freedom Islam gave to women 1400 years ago cannot be denied. Islam still teaches those values to the believers which can heal the ills of the society. Divorce is disliked and harmony is preferred. Casim’s father was shown to be an authoritative figure in the house while in Casim, British Pakistani lover has been portrayed. The way Casim disapproved of her sister going to Edinburgh and the way her father refused the offer outright cannot only be judged from a religious lens. Boys by no means have more freedom than girls in Islam when it comes to inter-gender mingling, clubbing and outdoor gatherings. Prejudice cannot be generalized as a weak point of Islam as these are not typical teachings rather stereotypical practices of weak Muslims (Shira,).
Islam takes a very logical towards art and music. The argument on music can be traced back to Islam’s birth. Anything which has a tendency to make the believer go astray or distract him from obedience to God is not allowed in Islam. Perhaps, one of the main reasons why Tariq hated Kasim’s choice was that she was a pianist in Tahara’s school. Poetry in Islam has an exalted level; the Prophet Mohammad allowed only that poetry which talked about the wonders of Islam and the magnificence of God Almighty. Many a traditions have been reported in Sahih Muslim, one of the most authentic sources after the Quran, which validate the existence of poetry but which are done to seek the pleasure of God.
To conclude, Ae Fond Kiss has represented the real-life problems that come with an inter-cultural relationship that too with different backgrounds. Loach ended the movie in a very thought-provoking manner; the audience has been forced to redefine the boundaries of culture and see religion as a whole rather than sum of the parts of culture. Islam can be seen a civilization which serves as revolutionary religion throughout the history. Perhaps, the audience and the critics of Ae Fond Kiss now know that they have to look into their prejudiced perceptions again as Asad Fyzee puts it that Islam has to ‘interpreted afresh and understood anew’ with respect to time, place and people (Omid, 98).