Aasif Mandvi Has “Been Inside More Bars Than Mosques”

When I first heard the title of the movie Today’s Special, I thought about that kids’ show from the 90s where the mannequins in a store came to life and hung out at night. Sadly, the movie is actually about Indian food. One that starred comedian and Daily Show correspondent Aasif Mandvi (he’s the one in the Team Mohammed shirt), nonetheless. He spoke to the New York Times about the movie and about his relationship with Islam and his native India.

I’ve always said I’m the worst representative of Muslim Americans that’s ever existed, because I’ve been inside more bars than mosques. But I recognize this has nothing to do with me. There are very few people representing the moderate American Muslim voice on television, and I happened to fall into this thing. The fact that I get to do it is an unbelievable blessing for me.

I think Islam has been hijacked by the idea that all Muslims are terrorists; that Islam is about hate, about war, about jihad — I think that hijacks the spirituality and beauty that exists within Islam. I believe in allowing Islam to be seen in context and in its entirety and being judged on what it really is, not what you think it is. I believe in the right for Muslims to be Muslims. I always get upset when people talk about Islam in relationship to America, like it has anything to do with America — that jihad is about killing Americans or something like that is a very arrogant point of view. Muslims have the right to have diversity, complexity, and not be reduced to what Sean Hannity thinks Islam is.


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