Review on the India premiere of “Fez : City of Saints”

There is a growing set of social-media savvy Muslim youths in Kerala who are incredibly fond of globally popular English-speaking Islamic speakers and media. Traditional Muslim scholarship of Kerala, with their exceptional knowledge of Islamic learning, are unfortunately caught up in the web of organizational politics and power conflicts. These thirsty youths are increasingly looking up to western Muslim works of art to quench their spiritual aspirations.

The India premiere of “FEZ : The City of Saints”, a travelogue documentary about the sufi-abundant town in Morocco was unique in both its organization and presentation.

Organized completely via social media, an event of this sort did not generate any of those nauseating noise nor wanton waste which is otherwise very common for such programs. In true spirit of its content, this visual treat jointly organized by Coffee Inn Art Community, an online group of young intellectuals, and Thelitcham Monthly, the campus magazine of Darul Huda Islamic University.

The premiere had attracted a host of selected poets, thinkers, IT and Media professionals, Sufi singers and university students who heard of the show from social media and word of mouth.

Even the venue of the event was a historic choice as traditional Muslim elders still consider cinema among the forbidden list of fitna. But that did not stop the participants from overcrowding the hall at the Darul Huda Islamic University, one of the most popular centers of Islamic learning in Kerala.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Saints and their tombs are not new to the Muslims in this South Indian state. Mausoleums are widespread across the land from the very beginning of Islam’s career here. In fact, if properly studied, Kerala may be on top five Islamic destinations for tombs of Muslim saints and Sayyids. However, present Muslim media here has utterly failed to showcase the Muslim heritage of Kerala to the global Muslim fraternity and even to the new English-educated generation of Kerala. Hence, the full-house turnout at this documentary premiere.

The present Muslim intelligentsia requires two imminent upgrades to rise up to the aspiration of the coming generation. A shift from the single medium to a bilingual presentation of the message of Islam. They should be able to paint the beauty of Islam with both English and Malayalam. English is undoubtedly becoming the language of the new generation. Secondly, scholars and orators have to overcome the paranoia of organizational politics while addressing popular issues. Youths don’t believe in flags, they want a non-partisan view of Faith.

Social media has robbed Kerala of the luxury of living in a closed circuit as youths are tremendously getting exposed to global Muslim concerns, affecting them, at times, more than their immediate Mahallu issues.

Kerala is worth a thousand FEZ. Let the world know about it. Sincerely a restless soul.

Aug 24 2013