I stepped into a cozy loft, decorated minimally with Moroccan style tapestry and into an experience I won’t easily forget.
The Light in Her Eyes, a documentary film following the story of Houda al-Habash, the founder and teacher of an all girls’ Qur’an school in Damascus, Syria, sparked my interest about a year ago where, in a similar intimate gathering, I was first able to see the footage gathered.
I must admit I was skeptical, even after meeting the charming directors, Julia Meltzer and Laura Nix. I initially thought to myself, here we go again with white women telling our story. I was waiting for the Orientalist slant, the reek of privilege or the saving campaign.
But I found none of that. What I did find, however, was a thought-provoking film made by filmmakers who seemed to be passionate about their subjects, deferential towards the delicate framework of sociocultural norms they were operating from within and cognizant of the sociopolitical impact of media, especially of those whose subjects are Muslim women.
The documentary follows focuses on the stories of three Syrian Muslim women: Houda al-Habash, her daughter Enas, and a 14-year-old student at the girls’ school named Riham.