Preview: All American Muslim

posted at 11:30 am on November 12, 2011 by Jazz Shaw

TLC (previously known as The Learning Channel) will debut a new series tomorrow evening, Sunday, Nov. 13, titled “All-American Muslim.” I was contacted and given the opportunity to preview the debut episode, “How to marry a Muslim” and interview the show’s developers. Right up front I can tell you that this series will offer a number of things which will enlighten and entertain some people while no doubt having heads exploding in other quarters. Personally, I found it fascinating.

The series focuses on a number of people in Dearborn, Michigan, all members of the Muslim-American community. It’s a rather eclectic collection of both married couples and singles, ranging from devout practitioners of their faith (women wearing head scarves, adherence to traditional Arab lifestyles) to very westernized young folks, including a woman who dresses far more like the Kardashians and has an interesting collection of tattoos.

Rather than being a bland travel video of happy Muslims immersing themselves in American culture, however, the show takes more than a few chances in showing some of the complications and pitfalls which arise when cultural worlds collide. One of the more startling examples is that of Shadia Amen as she prepares to marry her all American, Irish Catholic boyfriend Jeff. The impending nuptials have Jeff’s mother a bit out of sorts since he’s agreed to convert to the Muslim faith in order to be able to satisfy his bride and her family.

One portion of this I found unusual was the inside look at the conversion process. I spent some time once going to classes with a friend who was converting to Judaism. It’s a very long, detailed, involved process with a great deal to learn. The conversion process for Jeff to become a Muslim seemed to consist of showing up at his future father-in-law’s house and reciting precisely three lines. More to the point, despite his protestations about having done his homework, he seems to be given the speech for the ceremony written phonetically with no clear idea what he’s saying. The bride’s father assures him that, “You’re not denouncing anything. You’re adding more.”

He’s then given the note to read, with sub-titles helpfully added to the scene:

I bear witness,
That there is no God,
But Allah

POOF! You’re a Muslim!

It struck me that some in the Catholic faith -given the Trinity and all – might consider that something of a denouncement. But maybe that’s just me.

I interviewed Alon Orstein, the Vice President of Production and Development at TLC, this week to ask him about this and other aspects of the show. On the subject of Jeff’s conversion, he told me that they weren’t seeking to cast this in any sort of controversial fashion, but simply “following the story” where it led. As to what Jeff knew about his conversion ceremony, I was told I’d need to ask Jeff. (I may see if I can get an interview in the future to do just that.)

I also asked Alon precisely what kind of show this is, because after watching the first episode I found myself struggling to identify it. Was it a documentary? A reality show more in the vein of Real Housewives? We wound up agreeing that the lines on these things have blurred in recent years, and he felt that All American Muslim is just an in-depth look at a slice of American society which many of us don’t normally get to see.

I also asked if this show would intentionally be touching on the obvious political implications of the story they tell, given the somewhat incendiary nature of the material. He told me that in coming episodes there are segments which certainly head in that direction, as well as going inside of some American mosques, but again, it wasn’t their purpose. They just went where the story led them.

Other interesting situations arise in the show, such as that of Fouad Zaban and his wife. Fouad is the coach of the local high school football team, composed almost entirely of Muslim boys. He has to schedule practice during Ramadan around the tradition of not eating or drinking anything from sunup to sundown during that period.

There are plenty more, but I’ll leave it to the audience to review the premiere for themselves and see how it’s handled. While some of it will likely be controversial, as I said, I found myself engaged and I’d say it’s worth a look. Following are two videos. The first is the show’s “upcoming episodes” preview which will air Sunday night. It includes some interesting hints about Jeff’s conversion to Islam and the reactions from both his friends and his new wife’s family who wonder if he’s converting “for the right reason.’ The second video gives a brief look at some of the subjects, and the web site has more information on the families who are featured.

Upcoming Episodes:

About the families:

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America in decline.

maineconservative on November 13, 2011 at 9:03 AM

Wont be watching this..

becki51758 on November 13, 2011 at 10:10 AM

Wont be watching this..

becki51758 on November 13, 2011 at 10:10 AM

Yep much better to not see how your “enemy” thinks and lives. /

Did anyone ever explain how when I encounter muslims almost everyday I seem to escape with my life?

Come on people. This is embarrassing. Are their bad muslims here ? Sure but the extent as to which it is being taken is borders on insane.

CW on November 13, 2011 at 10:16 AM

Come on people. This is embarrassing. Are their bad muslims here ? Sure but the extent as to which it is being taken is borders on insane.

CW on November 13, 2011 at 10:16 AM

Amen. Its amazing how hostile people can get to different religions that they don’t like or don’t understand.

It also saddens me that most people don’t even find this insane hostility troublesome.

Conservative Samizdat on November 13, 2011 at 1:42 PM

Amen. Its amazing how hostile people can get to different religions that they don’t like or don’t understand.

It also saddens me that most people don’t even find this insane hostility troublesome.

Conservative Samizdat on November 13, 2011 at 1:42 PM

My suspicion (hope? wishful thinking?) is that the anti-Islam stuff bothers more people here than you’d think. The problem is, the people spreading it pass themselves off as though they are theological experts on Islam, so if you aren’t also an expert, it can be intimidating to jump into the fray.

Usually in a situation like this, the followers of the religion getting trashed would take the lead in the defense. The problem is, there isn’t a significant Muslim readership to present their side. There might be one or two Muslim readers out there, but who wants to go and get into an argument where you’re vastly outnumbered, and with dozens of self-proclaimed experts on Islam who will dismiss anything you say as Taquiya?

There was a Muslim commenter awhile back who would argue their case. I don’t remember the name, but I haven’t seen him here for a long time. He probably left in disgust.

RINO in Name Only on November 13, 2011 at 2:36 PM

Islamaphobia?

Not in the least.

Perhaps if over the past decade the “moderate” Moslems around the country and around the world had stood up to be counted.

Perhaps if the millions of “moderate” Moslems had openly and loudly condemned the violence, terror, hate and death strewn about by their Islamist brethren.

Or were just a tad more vocal in condemning the Moslem on Moslem violence perpetrated by Islamists.

Perhaps if so many Moslems on the street had not cheered the likes of al-Qaeda, Hamas, and the Moslem Brotherhood on each time another spectacular bombing took place or Israelis were killed, or American soldiers were targetted.

Perhaps if these American Moslems had stood up as Americans first, Moslems second.

Then a lot of the vitriol directed toward them would be rare indeed.

But they have not. Did not. And probably will not.

In the meantime we are supposed to bend over backward so as not to offend them?

coldwarrior on November 13, 2011 at 3:18 PM

Poor Jeff being a muslim convert is like quicksand. Easy to fall into but deadly to try to get out of.

eaglewingz08 on November 13, 2011 at 4:56 PM

Muslim beliefs did not build this country but muslim beliefs want what they didn’t build, sacrifice, or work for and any muslim wanting to take this from me will know what I’m made of.

mixplix on November 13, 2011 at 7:00 PM

Why did he have to convert..why didn`t she do the converting!

Lou on November 13, 2011 at 7:54 PM

Why did he have to convert..why didn`t she do the converting!

Lou on November 13, 2011 at 7:54 PM

Her parents would have had to kill her. Its an honor thing or something.

Or the local mullah would issue a fatwah and any of “the faithful” could kill her on sight. its in the Koran, you know.

Religion of Peace?

Mmmm, yeah.

coldwarrior on November 13, 2011 at 8:11 PM

This is America, and in my view they’re more than welcome here as long as they are not here to do harm (same as with any other ethnicity, nationality or religion).

Where I have a problem is when folks come here and want to take over and turn the U.S. into an adjunct of the same failed society they just left.

Dr. ZhivBlago on November 13, 2011 at 9:39 PM

Screw those monkeys

let’s see how a Jewish or Christian people live in muzzoland

oh, they are being systematically eradicated

they are a future plaque

they are grasshoppers waiting for the right time to become locusts

if they could respect our laws and we had reciprocol rights in their hellholes maybe

unfortunately I do not trust them at all

Sonosam on November 14, 2011 at 7:55 AM

I realize that this post is from 11/12/2011, almost a full month ago, but I wanted to comment then and couldn’t. Now that I can, I’m going to come back here and say what I wanted to say a month ago. I don’t know if anyone will ever read this, but if even 1 person does, it’s worth it the effort.

He’s then given the note to read, with sub-titles helpfully added to the scene:

I bear witness,
That there is no God,
But Allah

POOF! You’re a Muslim!

And, if you try to un-become a Muslim and rebuke the Shahada (Islamic initiation proclamation), they kill you.

A little note for Jeff the former Catholic dude.

profitsbeard on November 12, 2011 at 11:39 AM

That is absolutely true. A single honest recitation of the Shahada in Arabic is all that is required for a person to become a Muslim. A conversion to Islam is meant to be a one-way process, both for the individual and their descendants.

But what I haven’t seen anyone mention in any of the previous comments is the truth that Barack Hussein Obama took Shahada.

NCITTRP on December 10, 2011 at 1:08 AM

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