BBC3’s Make Me a Muslim: Shanna Bukhari meets Islamic converts in this controversial documentary

by Matt D

Make Me a Muslim

Though I love watching documentaries on BBC3 occasionally I have to tread on careful ground when describing them especially when it comes to programmes focusing on religion. This week’s Make Me a Muslim is a case in point as I want to voice my opinions on the show but at the same time really don’t want to offend anyone because at the end of the day I’m not here to belittle anybody’s faith but rather just give my views on a television programme. The documentary focuses on the large amount of white women who convert to Islam each year and sees Muslim-born Shanna Bukhari visit these ladies to find out what made them convert. Manchester-based model Shanna views herself as a modern British Muslim however she’s never once stepped foot in a mosque and is eager to see why these women would give up their western culture to convert to a very traditional religion.

Shanna’s first port of a call is a small Welsh village where she meets up with recent convert Claire who, since becoming a Muslim, wants to be known as Sofia. 24 year old Sofia was a lapsed Christian but found herself relating to the messages in the Quran and now wants to pray to Allah. Unlike some of the others featured in this documentary Sofia feels that she can still choose whether or not to wear a hijab though she tells Shanna that she likes wearing it as boys look at her more. Sofia also doesn’t mind dressing more conservatively as she doesn’t feel she needs to let everything hang out while at the same time she still feels she can be stylish and modest. Sofia also thinks that she won’t be a strict Muslim as she can’t see herself ever getting up for morning prayers, which start around 4:30 in the morning, as she enjoys her sleep. The one thing that shocked Sofia was the reaction of her family and her local community as she is in fact the only Muslim in the village. It appears as if her mother is fairly supportive and, after reading the Quran herself, doesn’t see much difference between Islam and the old-fashioned Christian values that her own mother instilled in her. It is Sofia’s father that Shanna feels most for though as he has to defend his daughter to his friends down the pub who may not understand why she has converted and view her as a traitor.

Make Me a Muslim 1

Shanna then travels to Glasgow to meet Alana a 20 year old media student who converted to Islam two years ago. Traveller Shanna was raised as a protestant and was a bit of a wild child to the extent that when she left college she hoped to be a travel rep in Lanzarote. Instead of going on a mad drinking binge she met Abdul, who is now her fiancée, and later converted to his religion. Alana is currently taking a weekly Islamic Studies course and also hopes to learn Arabic so she can understand what Abdul’s family are speaking about. Though Alana appears to be happy it seems that she has lost contact with her friends and she no longer feels she can socialise with them as they are all heavy drinkers. As Alana takes Shanna through her wardrobe she shows her that she has halal-ified her clothing so she can dress like a respectful Muslim. This means not wearing anything that shows off her figure but as well banning all high heel shoes as she feels that they give off the wrong impression. The high heel shoes are a real bone of contention between Shanna and Alana as the former fails to agree that as a Muslim woman she shouldn’t be allowed to wear a certain kind of footwear and relations between the two turn quite frosty.

Similarly to Alana, Lisa converted to Islam for a man in this case her husband of seven years however it’s only been a year since she’s been a full Muslim. Full-time mum Lisa has at least instilled into her daughters the right to make their own decisions as one of them wears a hijab while the other two do not. Lisa was indeed a wild child, and still has the tattoos to prove it, however her journey to conversion started when she was fourteen as that was when she met her future husband. As they were both each other’s first loves it was heart-breaking when she’d learnt that he’d gone to Pakistan and taken part in an arranged marriage when he was eighteen. However years later she became his second wife as apparently Muslim men are allowed to be married to at least four women at once. Lisa appears to hate her co-wife and has laid down firm ground rules to her husband that he’s not allowed to have sex with her but at the same time it appears as if all of her in-laws hate her. We here from Lisa’s sister Kimberly who detests the fact that her sister lives as a single mother for half the week and claims that it’s not fair that her husband is married to two different women. Indeed Shanna has similar views saying that the whole idea makes her sick and it appeared to me as if Lisa had made the ultimate sacrifice just to be with the man that she loved.

It appears to be even harder for converts who aren’t married as women who convert into Islam don’t have the same opportunities to meet a husband as those born into the faith. Shanna learns this when she meets Inaya who is having trouble finding a man due to the fact that she is a convert to the religion and feels that there are a few channels open to women like her. Inaya converted to Islam several years ago when she was going through a tough time and started learning about the faith through her Muslim friends. Now at 28 she’s ready to get married however she finds it difficult to meet a partner when most of the Muslim weddings are arranged by families who are close to one another. Even when taking part in Islamic speed dating she has been insulted by men who claim that she is too old or who fear that she may revert to her old western ways. I personally found Inaya’s story fairly depressing as it appears as if her new faith has stopped her finding a man something that wouldn’t be happening if she hadn’t converted to the faith and I feel it would’ve been good to know if she had found love after the programme was filmed.

As well as telling the stories of the rest of these women Shanna also re-explores her own faith and wonders if she can truly call herself a Muslim. In the past she has had bad experiences with the faith as she received death threats following her attempts to represent Britain in Miss Universe. While most of the women she meets reinforce the fact that Muslim women have to cover up her experience with Islam convert Aisha. Aisha was scouted by a model agency when she was just sixteen however after converting to Islam she stopped modelling altogether but later realised that this was too extreme a reaction. Now instead she is more relaxed in her religious beliefs but always considers what she’s wearing on the catwalk before modelling it. Though I found this quite a logical way to carry out your daily life, Shanna wasn’t convinced and instead went to see Alana once again who told straight that she shouldn’t be modelling. After receiving two different pieces of advice in the end Shana decided she would be a little bit more respectful in what she wore and in addition would also start going to mosque on a regular basis.

To an extent I would say Make Me a Muslim was a fairly balanced documentary in its exploration of the reasons that white women convert to Islam. I found Sofia, Inaya and Aisha all reasonable women who had converted to Islam as they wanted something to believe. All three, Aisha in particular, didn’t let their faith take over their life and I found that she in particular was a woman who happened to be a Muslim rather than the other way around. Both Lisa and Alana were different cases as they’d converted for the men they love and both cases had made several sacrifices to do so. I was particularly appalled by the situation that Lisa was in and thought that she must really love her husband to share him with another woman. The main question of the documentary is does the Islamic faith oppress women? And while I’d say it doesn’t I would say, certainly going by the information on offer here, it does treat them like second class citizens. While women have to keep their bodies purely for their husbands, the husbands are allowed to have up to four wives while we also saw that the women sit behind the men during Alana’s Islamic Studies class. To make this documentary a little more balanced I feel that Shanna maybe should’ve visited a white male convert to the Islamic faith to see if life had changed for him.

Overall Make Me a Muslim was a broad look at a growing trend in Britain however at times I found it a little bit sensationalist. While I feel it expelled some myths about the religion at the same time I found some of the subjects chosen where there for a specific reason. Shanna also didn’t really seem to know what she wanted and even at the end of the documentary appeared unsure of her ultimate decision. So while I would say that Make Me a Muslim was an interesting documentary I found there was far too much going on for it to make any real relevant points.

Did you enjoy Make Me a Muslim? What was your reaction to some of the women featured? Leave Your Comments Below.

35 Comments

  1. Alana blockley on January 30, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Hi I’m alana blockley. The muslim woman in the documentary. Just wanted to comment on your article. First of all you say I appear I be happy. I’m actually very happy with my life. Also I haven’t lost contact with my friends as I see (the friends tht I don’t socialise with) at college every week and my traveller friends and friends in my family I spend time with every week too. The only change is I don’t go clubbing with them. Also Shanna and I are good buddies and we were only ‘frosty’ for five minutes. Also I did not convert to Islam for a man I did it for myself although meeting my husband and watching him practice it introduced me to Islam, but I did the studying and converted because its what I believe in. And second class citizens??? I’ve never felt more respected by men in my whole life. To be called ‘sister’ and be looked out fr by a community of men and women young and old is one of te best things that’s followed after converting. I’ts such a shame non Muslims who haven’t experienced being in the company with a group of Muslims feel so negatively about this religion when it is so friendly, positive, happy and peaceful. Alana

  2. Fabrizio Pagan on January 30, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    I will be watching the documentary with interest. However, I already have an opinion on the role of women in Islam. A woman whose testimony is worth half that of a man and whose inheritance is also half as much IS being discrminated against.
    The following is taken from the IslamicSharia.org website and refers to what’s already being implemented HERE IN THE UK amongs Mohameddans:

    “(on the testimony of women)
    2. Cases of serious nature, like that of fornication, adultery and rape attract a very hard punishment in Islam. Flogging a hundred times for unmarried couples and stoning to the married ones. To prove such an allegation, even two male witnesses are not enough, but four of them are required. Suppose those who witnessed were women alone. If the number of witnesses is doubled, less would be the chance for the implementation of this punishment. Many people do not object a lot to these ways of punishment but they do not realize how difficult it has been made in Islam, to prove such allegations.

    3. The text (Surah Al-Baqara 2:282) which requires two female witnesses in place of one male witness, gives a clear reason for it i.e. “if one of them forgets, the other reminds her.” Is this derogatory to the status of the women or is it a revealed secret about the nature of the women? Though much has been said about the difference between a man’s brain and that of a women but I would rather like to quote the latest research made about this issue. According to a survey, as published in Los Angeles Times (U.S.A) , made involving fifty men and women for quite a considerable time, the out come was as follows:

    Man’s mind is uni-focal while the women’s mind is multi-focal. In other words, a man would be fully occupied with the task he is involved with; he may not be distracted by anything else while being engaged in his activity. On the other hand, a woman may be busy in kitchen work and she will be easily alert to a phone buzzer or her infants cry from the cradle. In a way she is found to be more sensitive and active in her dealings. Thus she has got a very praise worthy character but that is not so good for a case of testimony which requires more attention and concentration. What is wrong then, if a second woman is needed, only to remind her is she fails to deliver her testimony completely. So it is a case of verification of the testimony, not that of degradation to the status of the women at all.

    4. In many other matters, the nature of women are considered. For example, the right of divorce is vested in the hand of the man while she is allowed to ask for divorce either directly or through a Qadi (Judge). Why? Because the women are kind-hearted human beings who are governed by their emotions, a character strongly needed for bringing up the children. On the other hand, man is governed by his mind more than his emotions. He would think twice but more than that before uttering the word “Talaq” (divorce). Even if he misuses this word (as noticed again and again) a long procedure following a divorce i.e. the Iddat period of a woman, allows him to retract the step he has taken. He can revoke that Talaq within this cooling period of approximately three months time.
    To deny the difference between the two genders is a denial of truth. Allah who created us, gave us rulings according to our nature. And all is well as long as we go by the nature.”

    No matter how you look at it: if that’s not second class citizen, I really don’t know what is. One way poligamy for men is another abominable custom which should be consigned to the Middle Ages or at least confined to Islamic countries. The fact that 85 Sharia councils are already operative in the UK should be a matter of the highest concern. I am baffled they are even allowed to exist.

  3. Robert on January 30, 2013 at 10:05 pm

    Muslim religion is just brainwashing. People look at the women more when they wear the stupid outfits because they do not fit in with the uk way of dressing.

  4. Ayesha Khizer on January 30, 2013 at 10:24 pm

    Islam has given a woman more freedom then any other religion. All those anti islamic people know that its a true religion and thats why they discuss islam again and again, looking for an excuse to show others that its not a right religion. I want to ask all of them why dont you discuss any other religion. Christians celebrate christmas which isnt their own festival,jesus wasnt even born that day.Why dont you talk about them or jews or pagans or buddist or freemasons or idol worshippers who create god themselves and then worship. Shame on this Shana Bukhari she doesnt deserved to be classed as muslim.

  5. Ali on January 30, 2013 at 10:49 pm

    Guidance to faith comes from Allah (swt) alone. One should not judge others as you never know what state you will die in and what state Shana Bukhari will die in.

    One should worry about protecting themselves and advising others to do the same. Ultimately there is no compulsion in Islam.

  6. Nazi on January 30, 2013 at 10:51 pm

    Well said Ayesha. I too feel that this Shana girl brings shame to our beautiful religion Islam. She should be grateful that she is born a Muslim and start acting like one before its too late. Islam is growing fast for a reason and I’m happy to say that more and more people are believing and are practising Islam.

  7. Adele on January 30, 2013 at 11:22 pm

    Fascinating programme. I thought all the converted women came across as intelligent, independent and friendly, in particular Alana. Alana, I completely respect the dedication you have shown in converting to Islam and thought that you seem to be a sincere and kind person.

  8. Hamsa on January 30, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    We all have flaws, we all make mistakes, we all realise and change. Right?
    I am a born muslim allhamdulilla. For shanna to come out in to the public about her views and her interpretation of her religion is her choice. If she has no knowledge, or commitment to her religion then that is her choice. who are we to judge, make decisions about if shes going hell or heaven. As my imaan has always guided me not to judge, because were not Allah SWT. From watching the documentry, I can see she has little imaan, may we all help and build her imaan. Islam saves us from the worlds calamities. if you research properly and learn that Islam isnt what the media make it out to be. All resources are free, so why dont the uneducated and opinionated people research about Islam.

  9. Simone on January 30, 2013 at 11:52 pm

    Give the girl a chance! I think sister Shanna has a beautiful heart and we should pray for her. May god guide her and all of us. Islam behun from one man to 1.2 billion maasha allah! Through good manners and character alone. Thats the real beauty which is never picked up on. Its always the negative portrayal. Muhammad pbuh taught nothing except what jesus and moses pbut taught. Love, submission and harmony……thats it. Very simple. Sadly there are a handful of muslims who have gone off their trolley and unfortunately we are all judged the same….tjis happens in every faith!!!!!
    What i find is never explained is that BEFORE the quran was revealed women who had their cleavage out and flesh on display were either slave girls or prostitutes. They were sold, even in christian societies. It was ISLAM that gave women the reverance and uplifted them from the gutter and prescribed that they should be covered in wraps, like a precious stone. Think of all the precious elements, gold, pearls, rubies etc, always hidden away out if sight…like a beautiful, respectable, honourable woman! Bellissimo! How very dignified, ive never looked back since i converted, best thing thats EVER HAPPENED TO ME

  10. Fatimah on January 31, 2013 at 12:15 am

    This is a beautiful documentary about these five converts and their reason. And I agree with Ayesha why do other religions only talk about Islam? Everyone knows that islam is the right religion but chose to fight against us but Allah (swt) will be the one who shall judge them. We should just pray for them before the day of qiyamah.

  11. Fatimah on January 31, 2013 at 12:25 am

    I actually felt a offended about what you have said on the documentary it being called ‘sensationalist’ made me feel a bit angry. I know you were trying to put it in a nice way but if your going to say something say it nicer. Inshallah Allah guides you along the right path and this documentary will actually open up your eyes too see the real world.

  12. Bella on January 31, 2013 at 12:27 am

    I really enjoyed watching this documentary, I myself am not muslim but it was very interesting. I think it is wrong to say Shanna brings shame, who is anyone to judge what someone wlse you don’t even know does. If she doesn’t want to practice her religion than thats her choice.
    @Alana I think if conversion is for you, then that is totally your choice, no one has the right to tell people what to do or who to be?

    However there are certain aspects of islam which I don’t agree with, and some of the practices and RULES do seem archaic, ie. women can’t marry non muslims, but its ok for the men to? why don’t the men cover up if the women do? The list goes on

    I WAS UTTERTLY DISGUSTED WHEN SHANNA WAS IN THAT LECTURE AND SHE WAS TOLD TO COVER HER HAIR? WHY SHOULD SHE COVER HER HAIR? WHY CAN’T MUSLIMS RESPECT OTHER PEOPLES VIEWS THAT THEY DON’T WANT TO COVER THEIR HAIR, I KNOW PLENTY OF MUSLIMS WHO DON’T WEAR HIJAB. THE MAIN PROBLEMS WITH ISLAM IS THAT THERE IS NO TOLERANCE TOWARDS OTHER FAITHS BUT WE HAVE TO TOLERATE PRACTICES. ONE OF MY GOOD FRIENDS IS FROM SAUDI ARABIA, WHY DON’T THESE CONVERTS GO AND LIVE THERE? WE’LL SOON SEE HOW HOW MUCH YOU LOVE ISLAM …

  13. Nim on January 31, 2013 at 1:09 am

    Fabrizio, it is clear you need to do some serious research and understanding. Anyone can use information at face value. For instance, your first statement about inheritance, clearly you missed the fact that whilst the men get more in inheritance it’s actually the females that are being treated more kindly here. The guy has to financially support the family whilst the girl can still keep her money whilst she is financed by the mle family member. Now, shouldn’t you be suggesting the guys are oppressed????? It’s best to know things thoroughly prior to making assertions.

    As for those condemning shanna, as Ali said there is compulsion in religion so please refrain from judging for Allah sake

  14. Nim on January 31, 2013 at 1:10 am

    #no compulsion in religion

  15. Nim on January 31, 2013 at 1:19 am

    Bella I am Muslim and completely agree with you about the lecture incidence. That had nothing to do with Islam. People tend to mix their cultural believes with religion. It’s clearly status in Islam we are not to judge or decide what a fellow Muslim or a non-Muslim does. It’s purely between them and god. That’s Islam you can read the Quran for confirmation. I find it harsh that you said Muslims instead of some Muslims because there are intolerant people from all walks of life and I don’t think using Saudi Arabia as a model Muslim country is fair either. Yes Mecca is in Saudi Arabia but most of their rules are based on their culture. I know because I family members and friends that lived and worked their. I

  16. N on January 31, 2013 at 1:20 am

    Bella I am Muslim and completely agree with you about the lecture incidence. That had nothing to do with Islam. People tend to mix their cultural believes with religion. It’s clearly status in Islam we are not to judge or decide what a fellow Muslim or a non-Muslim does. It’s purely between them and god. That’s Islam you can read the Quran for confirmation. I find it harsh that you said Muslims instead of some Muslims because there are intolerant people from all walks of life and I don’t think using Saudi Arabia as a model Muslim country is fair either. Yes Mecca is in Saudi Arabia but most of their rules are based on their culture. I know because I family members and friends that lived and worked their. I

  17. Sk on January 31, 2013 at 1:33 am

    There is SOOOO much more to being Muslim than the CLOTHES. The clothes are for modesty which protect women & give them respect. But let’s not forget how much being Muslim is about good character & great values, people who practice Islam correctly are an ASSET to the society they live in because of the values.

    Shame Shanna is ignorant of her faith, I’d says her parents take responsibility for that. The programme highlights the fact that Allah is not in need of us, we muslims need HIM & if we cannot worship him correctly then he will REPLACE us with others who can, just look at the English converts who Allah blessed & born muslims who sold their hereafter for the fleeting dunya.

    Allah gave her beauty but look how she used it. Beauty turned out to be a trial rather than a blessing. May Allah guide her.

    Also no woman makes it to miss universe with knock knees & muffin top and by just being attractive, not even stunning! This is the harsh judgements when you put your beauty on show, you’re just the sum of your body parts & flaws as stated above!

  18. Shez on January 31, 2013 at 3:38 am

    I don’t expect anything better from the BBC. After all it is part of British government policy. Whenever there is a documentary about Islam they find not the most common positive aspects but always sensationalized/confused as long as it makes good TV and leaves people viewing Islam as more Alien.I agree the situations do happen but as for helping promote Islamic/Christian cohesion…the BBC is the last organisation to promote this. Best way to reverse social engineer a growing trend of young women reverting.

  19. Abu Omar on January 31, 2013 at 10:29 am

    @Alana blockley, alhamdulillah sister may Allah grant you more knowledge and wisdom.

    This show was positive to highlight the problem of the Muslims that they don’t study the Quran & Sunnah, for if they did they would understand what is required of them.

    I just want to briefly mention in this post because I felt that the reverts didn’t have the answers due to being isolated or still being new Muslims and it gave the impression that there was no answer.

    One needs to understand the difference between the Quran and Sunnah. The Quran is Gods Literal Word and it speaks in general and detailed circumstances. While the Sunnah (Sayings and Actions of the Prophet) elaborates from the General Evidences.

    For example.

    Quran tells us what we’re allowed to eat or not to eat and goes into quite a bit of detail, and further elaboration is not normally needed.

    Quran tells us to pray, but doesn’t detail the rules of how to pray, how to prepare for prayer, the positions of prayer etc… They are derived from the sayings and actions of the prophet (Sunnah).

    Whenever a verse was revealed the companions of the prophet would ask why, so why are women told to cover or not dress in certain types of clothing?

    GENERAL EVIDENCE:
    The general evidence from the Qur’an says for the believing women to cover, draw their veils over their bosoms (Quran 24:31).

    And now the Sunnah of the Prophet elaborates:
    1) Clothing must be barrel shaped as not to show her figure.

    2) It consists of 2 parts a Heejab & Jilbab(headscarf & Long barrel shaped clothing).

    3) Clothes must be neutral colors and not flashy.

    4) She must not be dazzling (make-up, perfume, bling jewellery etc..), she can wear these items in the home only for those that God allowed in the Quran, Husbands/Father/Brother/Uncle etc… not cousins.

    5) Not to wear the clothing associated with other religious beliefs or prostitutes.

    6) Forbidden to wear that which will make her walk like a cat, be it high-heels or if she does it intentionally without.

    7) Forbidden to wear bells on ankles.

    Now you can see why some Muslims dont know anything about the Quran, they read verses but without the Sunnah

    If you interpret it the way you wish then you would be one of the losers in hellfire (even as a muslim) as the Quran mentions that the only interpretation that will be accepted is that of the Companions of the Prophet in the first 3 Generations of the Islamic State, because they were there with him to ask why.

    You may turn around and say difference of opinion, you are right in Islam there is difference of opinion in matters which aren’t mentioned clearer. For example washing before prayer we are asked to wash the ARM to the elbows, where does the elbow end? the tip, the middle, the end.

    Anyhow anything incorrect is from myself and anything good is from none but Allah.

  20. Abu Omar on January 31, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Sorry forgot to mention why do women cover their face the Niqaab (Covering Face but not eyes) or Burka (covering all face)?

    Generally there is no Quranic Evidence for this, so the time to look in the Sunnah.

    The prophet did say that if the beauty of a women is apparent even with the headscarf, then she must wear the Niqaab, and if her eyes are beautiful to attract attention as well then she must cover them (burka).

    This happened in the past when a woman came to see the prophet and a man was attracted to her beauty to the point the prophet pushed him all the way till he hit the wall and then advised the woman to cover hear facial beauty for even the headscarf was not enough.

    3 Circumstances when wearing face-veil would become mandatory for a woman however, but best if they can recognize it themselves.

    1) Ordered by a father
    2) Ordered by a Husband
    3) Ordered by the Caliph (Head of the Islamic State)

    Explaining the above 3 is simple we as humans are all under the authority of someone else, we are all shepards with our own flock. And prophet said to obey those in (Islamic) authority over you. My wife doesn’t wear niqaab but If ordered her she would have to as I’m in authority over her. You might argue she is doing it for me then but she receives the reward for it from the angle of the prophet saying obey your husband in issues of Halal.

    In any case I’m paraphrasing in my posts as its not place for lecture.

  21. Khuram Mirza on January 31, 2013 at 12:17 pm

    Interesting documentary, Alan Alhumdulillah you are doing excellent job. You got beautiful sense of humour and may Allah (SWT) grant you high place in Jannah.

    When Shanna Bukhari tried traditional clothes she looked stunning and very respectful. It is good to see that she is trying, so rather than giving her negative we should praise her for trying. In terms of lecture I think the only issue her covering the head was due to the fact that she is Muslim. I’m not sure if it would be same for others religions?

    But Shanna Bukhari you are beautiful and you should cover your head and body and not to exhibit it in public. As I said you look more stunning/respectful by covering rather than showing.

  22. Lucy Muse on January 31, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    I think The person who wrote this blog is very arrogant, and you should allow other people to go into the religion they want out of their free will. You shouldn’t just patronize, you need to grow up.

  23. r.hadfield on January 31, 2013 at 3:40 pm

    just great,a modern lady full of go, and please just remenber no heaven will turn you down, being a good muslim,or any other religion, does not take away the person, to yourself be true,(and think that 9 yr old they tride to kill, just for wanting to learn). this guys are not true anthing, be first you, next a good example, you and 9 year old,Oh and angel of iran,did more,in realtime, only moroons make time stand still. show there is another way, NOTE there is plenty of room in paridise for the like of you, rearly ment from the heart,a mear male 70yrs plus, go girl go

  24. Nasir-uddin on January 31, 2013 at 6:11 pm

    Future Historians will look back at this era and wonder how it came to be that a minority religion in the UK ( 2m within a population of 65 m ? ) had suddenly created so many column inches and aired so many hours in the media. Well, we know the popular answer in a post 9-11 world. Islam is over 1400 years old. Hardly a new religion, with its roots going back to the dawn of time. This new found interest, and dialogue, is welcome of course. It gives more opportunity to dispel myths, overcome prejudice, create greater understanding etc. Like most things in life, its better to come from a position of knowledge on a subject, than rely on pre-conceived ideas or here-say. I was interested to see how many people seemed to have been outraged at the incident of Shanna being asked to cover her hair at the lecture. Why ? If I were to enter a church, Temple, or attend a gathering where a certain appearance was expected, then I would do so out of respect for others. Good manners are Universal, not restricted to a few. On the subject of whether someone is a good or a bad muslim, I am on the side of one of the earlier commentators- Allah will be the judge of that, not us. Only he knows what is in our hearts, and how we will depart from this life. And we will all have to submit to his judgement on the last day, with no exception. So the only questions we should ask ourselves is this – ‘ can I justify my actions in this world in front of my maker’. ‘ Did I honour my covenant with God’ Nothing of this world will we take, except for our deeds. And yes, he has given us free will to make up our own minds.

  25. N Ali on January 31, 2013 at 9:48 pm

    Salam, I am Muslim and would like to say this to all- islam is not and should not be judged by the followers but by the Quran and sunnah of the Prophet. To Abu Omar and others that hold similar beliefs: you need to review the Quran, you state that the Quran says to follow the companions of the prophet…no where does it state this. The Quran says to follow the Prophet and the Prophet only! This is a common mistake by the Muslim community- it was the prophets companions that instilled stoning and many other apparent ‘laws’ that the prophet never condoned! Remember that the Prophet said on the day of his death ‘today I have perfected your religion’ there does not need to be addional requirements added to it! Hijab and niqab is not mentioned in the quran, but the prophet requires the covering of a womans bosom as this was a cultural norm in arabia ( to walk bare chested or have revealing clothing on) – the key is modesty for both men and women! Nor is there anything anywhere about walking like a cat! I almost wet myself laughing at this! Aisha the Prophets wife gave lectures in the mosque where men and women sat together, in light of this the current trend which is based in culture and misogynistic communities, of having women sit at the back or having Shana cover up (which infuriated me) is completely unislamic. There is no compulsion in religion so why would you attend a lecture to know more and then be compelled to cover! Like most religions we have at the moment some very misguided and immensely stupid leaders- Saudi is probably the best example of how Islam is not supposed to be- the self appointed leader of the Muslim world and desecrator of Islamic history. Also there are many requirements on a man if he wishes to marry more than one wife, it is near impossible to meet these requirements but clearly this is abused! 1. You must be able to treat them equally 2. Maintain them separately 3. Spend equal amounts of time etc….if you can’t and you must be honest with yourself then you should not marry multiples. The context of multiple marriages is after war, when women outnumbered men 4-1 and was at a time that women could not survive without a guardian…so it was more than appropriate for the time and place. Indeed, it restricted men in a time that they had haraams

  26. N Ali on January 31, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Salam, I am Muslim and would like to say this to all- islam is not and should not be judged by the followers but by the Quran and sunnah of the Prophet. To Abu Omar and others that hold similar beliefs: you need to review the Quran, you state that the Quran says to follow the companions of the prophet…no where does it state this. The Quran says to follow the Prophet and the Prophet only! This is a common mistake by the Muslim community- it was the prophets companions that instilled stoning and many other apparent ‘laws’ that the prophet never condoned! Remember that the Prophet said on the day of his death ‘today I have perfected your religion’ there does not need to be addional requirements added to it! Hijab and niqab is not mentioned in the quran, but the prophet requires the covering of a womans bosom as this was a cultural norm in arabia ( to walk bare chested or have revealing clothing on) – the key is modesty for both men and women! Nor is there anything anywhere about walking like a cat! I almost wet myself laughing at this! Aisha the Prophets wife gave lectures in the mosque where men and women sat together, in light of this the current trend which is based in culture and misogynistic communities, of having women sit at the back or having Shana cover up (which infuriated me) is completely unislamic. There is no compulsion in religion so why would you attend a lecture to know more and then be compelled to cover! Like most religions we have at the moment some very misguided and immensely stupid leaders- Saudi is probably the best example of how Islam is not supposed to be- the self appointed leader of the Muslim world and desecrator of Islamic history. Also there are many requirements on a man if he wishes to marry more than one wife, it is near impossible to meet these requirements but clearly this is abused! 1. You must be able to treat them equally 2. Maintain them separately 3. Spend equal amounts of time etc….if you can’t and you must be honest with yourself then you should not marry multiples. The context of multiple marriages is after war, when women outnumbered men 4-1 and was at a time that women could not survive without a guardian…so it was more than appropriate for the time and place. Indeed, it restricted men in a time that they had haraams of 50 women! Allahu alam.

  27. Fabrizio Pagan on February 1, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    @Nim: Actually most of my post I copied and pasted from the ShariaCouncil.org website. It is interesting that you didn’t even touch on what was the core of my post (i.e. the fact that women are considered unreliable, hence 2 of them are needed in a law of court). We could also talk about under-age marriages, poligamy, genital mutilation, stoning etc. But the real point here is: WE DON’T WANT/NEED THIS IN BRITAIN. And it’s an outright disgrace that Sharia councils should even be allowed to exist. The quicker we get rid of them, the better!

  28. Lubna Ul-Hasan on February 1, 2013 at 4:15 pm

    Assalaamu-Alaikum to all my Muslim sisters and brothers
    Firstly, Assalaamu-Alaikum my dear sister Alana. May Allah reward you for your acceptance of Islam and may He guide you and give you patience and strength on your journey into your new Islamic way of life.

    I pray you remain steadfast in your new found faith and please know that my dua’a (prayers) are with you and the other sisters who were portrayed in this programme. The thing that saddened me most was seeing you all on your own, with no support from the community of Muslim sisters around you to socialize with and to learn from. The producers of this programme, I noticed, found their converts from far flung places of Britain – quite isolated places, where the newly converted Muslim girls were made to look and feel like outsiders within their own communities. Had they turned to London for more examples, they would’ve found many willing participants to take part in this programme. I also feel including the experiences of a newly converted Muslim brother would’ve given a more balanced and interesting perspective to the programme.

    Secondly, with regards to the presenter of the programme, Shanna Bukhari, I agree with Brother Ali when he said “Guidance to faith comes from Allah (swt) alone. One should not judge others as you never know what state you will die in and what state Shana Bukhari will die in.” Who are we to judge this girl from just watching this programme? We don’t know her and we can’t see inside her heart. Islam does not make us the judge of other people – only Allah is the supreme Judge over all of us. It distressed me greatly when she was reading out all the vicious hate mail and death threats she had received – that is not the Islamic way and those Muslims who wrote all those things should take a good look into their own black hearts for writing those words and feel shame.

    Shanna, my sister, I pray Allah gives you rightful guidance and instills a love and understanding of Islam into your heart and gives you the willingness and patience to become a better Muslim – A’meen.

  29. Fabrizio Pagan on February 1, 2013 at 5:10 pm

    I can’t actually believe we are even discussing the reasons behind poligamy. So there were more women than men in the 7th century. Well, a lot was different then, and that’s exactly why it’s dangerous to follow so literally a book written so long ago. You talk about Aisha, Mohammmed’s 3rd wife. Wasn’t she the one he married when she was 6 (although he waited until she turned 9 to ‘consummate’ the marriage). We have a name for that in the West, you know? These obnoxious rules should stay in the country where they originated. Stop forcing them down the throats of people who fought centuries for women’s equality, gay rights and kindness to animals. Sharia must be eradicated. There is NO place for it in modern Britain. We will fight you and your obsolete laws till our last breath!

  30. Mustafa on February 2, 2013 at 9:04 am

    Salam, Peace Be Upon U All.

    Islam is a complete system, its not a piece of selected verses that some people pick and chose in order for them to justify their own agenda, be it Islamic extremists or Islam-haters. There are many verses that speak about how a man should treat his female relatives in a good manner. Why dont you quote them?

    As a Muslim man, its obligatory on me to treat me wife and sisters in the best manners. Our Prophet SAW thaught us that paradise is under the feet of my mother. I’m not looking down on anyone, but if you manke a general comparison between muslim households and non-muslim families, the muslim families are sticking together in a way that is more loving and caring that the rest. This is of course not absolute, but mostly this is what I have observed during my whole life here i Europe.

  31. Mustafa on February 2, 2013 at 9:09 am

    Where can i Watch this documentary online?

  32. Abu Omar on February 2, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    Assalaamu-Alaikum to all my Muslim sisters and brothers
    @N Ali

    I believe you misunderstood what I said, we follow Muhammad (saw) upon the understanding of his beloved companions of whom a lot of them were promised Jannah (i.e. those who fought in badr, the 10 promised Jannah [ashrat mubasharat].

    Indeed the best people to interpret the Quran are not people of today. As a Muslim I dont think that the opinion of a scholar of today is higher than the understanding of a Sahabah from the time of the prophet.

    Fair enough if its a grey matter that never occurred in the past i.e. a digital camera and printer is that allowed to put up in the house or not, as its not a painting etc.. etc… I would say difference of opinions amongst the scholars.

    But what is the ruling on someone who did so and so, we scan evidences of the Quran and Sunnah. We find evidences that the sahabah said it means so and so (their understanding). That interpretation of the Sahabah is higher than any scholar of today.

    The sahabah are praised in the Quran as the only saved sect “and only if they follow what you follow will they be saved”, the hadith points out the messenger was pointing with his finger at them.

    The messenger did say “My ummah will be split into 73 sects 72 in hellfire 1 will be saved”, the said “who is that one…” the mm said “those who are on my footsteps and the footsteps of my companions”.

    Also the messenger said to go to Ibn Abbaas if you require intereptation as he is the best. Which Abu Bakr (ra) Omar (ra) used to go to a lot.

    So lets not take the opinions of the scholars today who say voting is wajib, when none of the sahabah ever voted in the parliment of Quraysh.

    Inshallah I hope that what little I have can be of use or at least spark more studies as Islam is vast and its surprising how much new things we discover more and more. In the 80’s & 90’s people hardly new anything about the Shar’iah let alone speak about it… now its the talk of the table.

  33. John on February 3, 2013 at 10:41 am

    This documentary was so crap, to be completely honest, shows how girls can fall for any bullshit from a man when they fall head over heals for him. These women were not particularly good looking so they found Islam in order to hide their insecurities and to have a meaning in life. The young girl is being targeted in the mosque, mosque must be having special meetings to convert her make her into a proper muslim and brainwash her. stupid White girls will fall for anything especially when you compare it to the western drunk life they must have been leading. Funny how some people can make shit look like gold! In this case what Mohammed has done with Islam, and with a bit of persuasion people are following blindly.

  34. John on February 3, 2013 at 10:51 am

    What kind of prophet would have sex with an 9 year old. Well that would be the prophet mohammed. Muslims always say it was divine intervention. Why would God intervene in mohammed personal life, a bit strange wouldn’t you say. 80% of the paedos on the sex offenders register would say the same thing, we put these men in jail, the Islamic world makes him into a prophet.

  35. Raheel on February 4, 2013 at 2:05 am

    Hi, first thing first Salam,
    Second thing is: do NOT listen to people who who is talking about you and your father badly!!! 
    Because Islam means peace
    Also if they know the Islam TRUTHFULLY they should know NOT TOO back chat, bad words(swearing at you or family members) and wishing bad on  others. Don’t let them get you down. 

    As Muslims we SHOULD NOT judge but always pray for people to overcome their bad habits
    And also make them a stronger Muslims
    Inshallah I become a stronger Muslim but that doesn’t mean I am a bad person
    She may like modelling she may like dressing up maybe she didn’t know the thing she was doing was bad maybe she didn’t get the direction to the right path so why slash out on a person who may not know if it’s right or wrong
    A little guidance a little help does not harm but abusing someone does therefore why bring sin to yourself instead you could help a person and get swaab for it.
    We should never lOok down on someone should always look at the person as equil

    I would like to say Islam isn’t bad as people make it to be. 

    We all as Muslims should pray five times a day which MOST Muslims don’t I try my best but I know it’s not good enough. Mashallah to be honest you look beautiful with the hijab on covered up. Reverts are stronger than Muslims because we got Islam built inside us since birth which makes SOME Muslims people do what they do today and think its easier to be forgiven which is wrong on judgement day everybody on this earth WILL be treated equally. 
    Islam is a never ending meaning there is Soo much to learn in this culture and very peaceful. 

    Other thing I would like to say is 
    If your thinking what to do next meaning job wise why don’t you think of modeling fully covered or do it for hijab Islamic clothing or Asian 
    So your still in modeling but in a different section of clothing. 
    One last thing 
    NEVER GIVE UP!! Doesn’t matter what people say or do

    Inshallah you become a stronger Muslim. 

    Always happy to help! 

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