Review: Little Mosque on the Prairie, Season 3, Episode 18

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There is a great gem of a show on the CBC that I have been watching almost since its beginnings that has great potential to be reviewed on Sahar’s blog. But, to be honest, there is just so much to talk about in the mere 20-something minutes that the show lasts that I can’t ever seem to come up with a short-ish, blog-friendly review. Quite the contrary; any attempted LMOTP review ends up looking like an honour’s thesis.

Not something you want to post on a blog.

But after watching this episode, I couldn’t help but wonder if I shouldn’t give reviewing LMOTP another try, especially since this episode is all about moderation and humility – two key ingredients in my writing a successfully short-ish and blog-friend review.

And so it goes.

While the theme, moderation and humility, doesn’t seem to bode well in a show that is meant to be lighthearted and funny, you’d be surprised at home the writers have managed to broach the subjects, slipping them gently and inconspicuously into the script. And they also manage to cover the subjects of segregation, propriety and friendship in there, too – plus a pretty funny wedding planning joke.

What more can you ask for?

The theme that struck a particular chord with me is that of propriety and segregation. I think we can all agree that propriety isn’t very present in today’s world. And while many might miss it – especially those of a certain non-teenage age – it doesn’t mean they have the right to impose restrictions in the name of propriety. More specifically, adults shouldn’t bind young people down with ridiculous rules in the name of propriety. This raises a very interesting question for all concerned parents: how do you teach your child propriety in today’s les than proper culture without resorting to tactics worthy of the 19th century?

Don’t ask me, I have no idea; my initial tendency would be to buy an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, move there with my husband and twenty other couples and live there, à la The Village (the movie by M. Night Shyamalan) which is, needless to say, a totally ridiculous idea (quite unfortunately). However, I do know that many of my friends, who have recently become or are thinking of becoming parents, continuously ask themselves this question. One of my friends in particular had extremely strict parents; while their intentions were good (my friend is the first to admit that his parents are loving and sacrificed everything they could for their four children), they also managed to send their children, all four of them, into years of rebellious and hair-rising behavior that got them into some serious trouble (including a stint in juvie and some liver function problems). In retrospect, my friend realizes that his parents were right about most things; but them imposing their rules on him, without in-depth explanation, discussion or consultation, made it next to impossible for him to accept. He told me that the only way he was able to accept them was to go totally the other way and when he realized that things weren’t working, he came back under the umbrella of his parents’ beliefs.

The storyline in this week’s LMOTP is seemingly simple, yet weaves in it many layers of thought provoking situations that relate to the previous paragraph. Baber, pressured by Fazel to show that he isn’t a ‘liberal’, creates a women’s only entrance to the mosque so as to ensure that his daughter Leyla’s doesn’t flirt with boys at the shoe rack. He is hoping that by segregating the men from the women, he will be able to basically force Leyla into being proper. However, there is no money to build a second entrance at the front of the mosque, and so the women’s entrance is relegated to the back of the mosque – where the garbage area is.

The women, offended at being segregated, decide to boycott the mosque, and Fatema changes her café to a women’s only café. Trying to defuse the situation, Amaar (the imam) brings the men and the women together for a meeting; he tries to use reverse psychology on the men by suggesting they should use the back entrance so that they can show that this segregation is an act of respect towards the women, who will now be allowed to use the front entrance.

Now while I refuse to tell you how this episode ends, I will tell you that Rayann had a very interesting comment for Amaar after his plan to use reverse psychology on the men backfired. She tells him that using the front entrance isn’t what this is about; because whatever door the women are using, they are being segregated against, and that is unacceptable.

Which brings me back into the whole propriety versus segregation debate: while this example might seem obvious, more often than not it isn’t so. In a world that is falling apart, it is only normal that we want to stick to rules and regulations that make us feel safe – but we have to be careful not to let these rules and regulations run amok and become irrational and erratic or, even worse, fundamentalist in nature. And fundamentalism has nothing to do with any religion in particular, but rather with human nature in general. As we try to understand what is going on in an increasingly crazy world, we tend to dig into what we know to find an answer.

Fundamentalism is the interpretation of every word in the sacred texts as literal truth. While many find their peace by digging into religion and trying to create forced harmony through a fundamentalist application, I would say that the ‘religion’ that is the most fundamentalist in this day and age isn’t Islam; rather, it’s materialism.

Think about it for a second.

Materialists are trying to create a forced harmony in the world that is centered on material things. Therefore, everything becomes about creating those material things and getting them to people at whatever cost.

And boy, have we been paying the cost of fundamentalist materialism. Because of its consequent feverish pursuit of things, materialism has brought together the disregard of human life (through the use of sweat shops), the disregard of life (through the incredible quantity of pollution making all this stuff creates), the disrespect of honor (through the accumulation of incredible amounts of debt to purchase more things, debts that can’t be paid back) and the creation of an unequal system (in which 1% of the people in the world own 99% of the world) in which we seemed destined to be stuck in unless we change things.

And, after watching the last episode of LMOTP, I have come to the conclusion that the most fundamentalist religion on earth in the 21st century is materialism.

Why don’t you watch it for yourself and see what conclusion you come up with. After all, the best cure against fundamentalism is an open mind maintained through respectful discussion, isn’t it?

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

For more information, visit the official website here. For a frequently updated list of LMOTP-related activities and events, go here. Enjoy!

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3 thoughts on “Review: Little Mosque on the Prairie, Season 3, Episode 18

  1. I love Little Mosque and I’m really glad you’ve done a blog entry about it!
    I like the way that the show discusses ideas like propriety, segregation, racism etc. It is subtle but that’s how it is in real life. People are easy to turn away from what is right, especially when what is wrong is so much easier.
    I read a book for my English class called “The Reluctant Fundamentalist”. The book talks about a young Pakistani man who moves to the USA to study. He gets a high paying job and lives a good life for a while, until the 9-11 attacks happen. Afterwards he feels prejudice and hatred from the American people, simply because he is Middle Eastern. He is angry with the USA because it is not what everyone expects of it. It is focused on one principle: itself being on top. Anywho, it’s a good read and it talks about a lot of the subjects you talk about here.

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