How to make a Muslim – not

How to make a Muslim – not December 16, 2007

making-muslims.jpgPsst! Wanna be a Muslim? Wanna try living under sharia? Well take a look at this Channel 4 prog this evening (8 o’clock).
Make Me a Muslim features a gay hairdresser, an atheist taxi driver, a skincare centre manager, a glamour model and a mixed-race couple. TV bosses seem to think this bit of suck-it-and-see, ooh-fancy-that!, well-I-never! nonsense masquerading as reality TV will penetrate some sort of mystique about Islam, somehow make us all “understand” it more. Why they can’t just be honest and say Muslims are the flavour of the moment and they can make some capital out of the fact can only be put down to the ratings race.

Anyway, that’s the idea. It’s dealt with in more detail in this Yorkshire Post story (it’s all done in Harrogate).
Narinder Minhas, the show’s executive producer, tells the paper, “The idea was to try to find a way of demystifying Islam because a lot of people don’t understand the religion at all.”
That immediately presupposes this “lot of people” (a) wanted to understand more in the first place and (b) could pick it up from a three-part TV show.
The only way truly to understand any culture is to be part of it for a long time, presumably. This is just television. It may be entertaining, but a lesson in how to “understand” Islam?
“We wanted to come up with something that might allow ordinary people to experience it, getting people to practise it and see whether they like it or not,” Minhas continues. A bit like trying on a dress, then, and trying to decide whether your bum looks big in it.
One of the participants was 33-year-old Haylie Winter, who owns a skincare centre. She found the lifestyle change difficult but rewarding, and said, “There were four mentors teaching us the ways of Islam and we had to do a number of things, like not eat any pork, not have any sex, not drink alcohol, and pray five times a day.
“What I found most difficult was praying five times a day,” she said.
Well each to his/her own, but why? Why do it? Who would actively choose such a religion – indeed, any religion at all, but that’s another argument?
One wonders whether they learned how to be “offended”, how to shout for beheadings and floggings and jailings if there was a mere sniff of a cartoon or a teddy bear.
And what happened to them when they all gave up the faith after filming? We’re dying to know.
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