In the summer of 2001, my friend Javaid Malik and I were working on an independent film project. Just as we were about the release the film which was about Muslim students at CAL Berkeley, the tragic events of September 11th, 2001 happened and due to the onslaught of media attention and focus on the Muslim community, we decided to drop our current project and make a totally new documentary film about the Aftermath of the terrorist attacks in New York by interviewing those people whose voices were not being heard in the mainstream media at the time: American Muslims!
We ended up interviewed seven American Muslims from various backgrounds, cultures and ages across the SF Bay Area. As we were only a 2 person team, doing the work of at least a dozen different on a normal such production, such as the writing, scripting, scouting of locations, scheduling interviews, camera work, editing, art work, post production and marketing to name a few, it took us over a year (14 months to be exact) to complete the film which came out in 2003.
Our interviewees included a very diverse group of men and women from a wide spectrum of the Muslim community in the Bay Area and included a 16 year old high school student, Adeel Iqbal, a local Sunni Muslim Scholar, Imam Tahir Anwar, a local Shia Muslim Scholar, Dr. Hamid Mavani, a Stanford Law Student, Shirin Sinnar, a Community leader and activist, Naima Bayton, an immigrant support group leader, Dr. Iman Farajallah, a foreign policy student, Farid Senzai, and our host was a local Bay Area Journalist, Ali Asadullah.
The documentary was shown on local community cable TV in the Bay Area, at University screenings in California as well as in Michigan as well as at the ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) film festival a couple of years after it was released. Once YouTube came out, we uploaded the documentary online and ironically one of the music pieces which we had received permission from the Pakistani group Junoon, was tagged by YouTube for being copyrighted. Since the original approval we received as on an older email account we had, we lost it!
In 2021, 20 years later we decided to reach out to all of our original interviewees and see what they are all doing now and then update our documentary with that information. We were able to connect with everyone, except Naima Bayton, who we were unable to find any recent contact information for. Besides adding in updates for most of the original interviewees we were also able to add in some new footage as well as background and intro music to our documentary and re-released it online in the fall of 2021.
Now 22 years later a lot has changed in the world including the ending of the Afghan war (which started almost immediately after Sept. 11th, 2001), airport as well as airplane security protocols, civil rights and protections for not only Muslims but other immigrants, banning of immigrants of Muslim majority countries in the US (and then the reversal of the ban), the election of Barack Hussein Obama as well as the election of Donald Trump – all of which are residuals of the tragedy of 9/11.
On the plus side there are much more American Muslims involved in the fields of Media, Journalism, Law, Politics and Public Policy now in 2023. We hope that our documentary had a small part in this positive trend for not only the Muslim community, but the greater community of the United States.
The updated documentary, as well as our original version from 2003 are both available to watch on our YouTube channel (@jamproductions). You can watch it at the link below:
Please leave your comments on our documentary on our YouTube page and/or you can leave a comment here on the Al Mihrab blog!