By Aalia Khan
With the increasing tension around terrorism and the association of Muslims and Islam with terrorism, Director and Producer Omar Regan has brought about a Muslim comedy film to bring light to what Islam is about and the beliefs of true Muslims, in a light-hearted, comedic manner.
American Sharia tells the story, through action-comedy, of a Muslim detective who has his own prejudices against Islam, following constant exposure to Islamophobia. We follow him on his transformational journey, which results in ending rising Islamophobic tensions between the police and the community he serves.
Omar Regan, also an actor and writer of the film, commented: “American Sharia is a Hollywood motion picture that sets out to use comedy to reverse the prejudices held against Islam and help promote the religion in a more positive way.
“It’s an alternative form of entertainment, during a time where we are surrounded and exposited to increasing negativity and profanity.”
American Sharia stars some of the world’s leading Muslim entertainers, including the movie’s main star and host of the tour, Omar Regan – a renowned Hollywood actor and household name for stand-up comedy, Baba Ali – an Iranian born American-comedian who co-founded Ummah films; a Muslim film company and True Story ASA – well known YouTube duo Adam Saleh and Sheikh Akbar, to name a few.
Regan said “We’re not bashing any other faiths or any other religion; we didn’t learn that from the prophet, we’re not making anyone look bad or banging on any culture or race. The message of the film is that we all need love and unity because we all are the creation of Allah.”
Regan’s journey took him from music, to acting to stand up comedy and now into the direction of Islam and creating halal comedy. He says that along the way he has learnt that Muslims themselves do not know Islam “Most Muslims know culture, they known their 5 pillars and then culture. That forced me to study Islam and I learnt that every Muslim that speaks from anger is not following the prophet as the prophet never spoke from anger.”
The more he learnt about Islam and the teachings of the Prophet Mohammad the more he wanted to do something with a purpose. Regan was fortunate enough to carry out the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca and perform his Hajj in 2007 and 2008, he says after these journeys he was “Blessed with the strength to be able to turn down certain roles that will cause me to lose my integrity.”
He went on “I would say that it was definitely prayer that saved me and allowed me to continue my passion but at the same time have a mission and a purpose, as opposed to just making movies I wanted to make movies to benefit people.”
According to Regan Muslims contribute to the negative perspective of them “Muslims will bash other Muslims and I think no wonder the world calls Muslims terrorists because Muslims terrorise each other” he says.
The message of this film is that we all need love and unity because we all are the creation of Allah. Regan wanted to talk about islamophobia and educate people on Islam. He says “I am trying to express what I’ve learnt from the prophet. The Quran tells us to talk to each other and communicate instead of getting angry and cursing one another.”
He also wishes for the film to “Spark people to read and study Islam. I want people to understand, learn and be puzzled thinking they don’t know what to feel right now. I want them to feel a sense of calmness and find it really interesting.”
Penny Appeal, an international humanitarian charity, will be exclusively hosting the UK screenings of the highly anticipated comedy. The family-friendly film will only be shown in a special 22-city UK tour, starting in February 2014, and won’t be available to view anywhere else, including cinema or online.
The tour is an exclusive part of Penny Appeal’s charity extravaganza month, Smile Relief, which aims to raise money for orphans around the world.
Penny Appeal CEO, Aamer Naeem said “The growth of Penny Appeal in the last five years has been nothing short of amazing, masha’Allah. We have worked hard to build our charity and are delighted that we have been able to help so many poor and needy people in such a short space of time.”
Naeem explains that “Smile Relief is a special month where we’ll be encouraging people to download our fundraising pack and raise money for orphans. We’ll also be broadcasting a special telethon live on British Muslim TV during February.
“It’s certainly going to be a month filled with smile and fundraising, and the film tour will be a great addition. The tour starts with a special launch on Wednesday 11th February in London, and our specially chosen theatre style settings will give audiences an enjoyable and full cinematic experience.”
Naeem believes that the film idea is “Simple but strong” and it will allow Muslims to tell their own story to the world in an accessible, and funny, way. He says “It showcases what it means to be a Western Muslim in this day and age.”