Zarqa Nawaz and ‘Little Mosque on the Prairie’

Posted on January 13, 2007
Filed Under >Adil Najam, Humor, Pakistanis Abroad, People, Religion, TV, Movies & Theatre, Women
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Adil Najam

The Pakistani community here in USA is abuzz with talk of Canadian Broadcasting Service’s (CBS’s) new comedy series Little Mosque on the Prairie.

Everyone seems to have an opinion, but few seem to have actually seen it yet (since it appears on Canadian TV and the first episode was aired this week). We at ATP wanted to change that and give you all a chance to view the first episode of the comedy program and comment on it. The show – for its subject matter as much as anything else – is causing ripples across the world’s media and has generally, but not always, generated good reviews.

The program’s website describes the program:

Little Mosque on the Prairie, an unabashedly comedic look at a small Muslim community living side by side with the residents of a little [Canadian] prairie town. At its heart, Little Mosque on the Pararie is a humorous look at relationships, family, love, the generation gap and balancing Muslim beliefs and traditions in a pararie setting.

The show and its humor is decidedly post 9/11. At its roots it is as much about the West’s paranoia as it is about the foibles of Muslim communities in the West. More generally it is about the immigrant experience, especially the Muslim immigrant experience. And all of this is done through the lens of humor. Laughing at – so that we can think about – where we are and where we have come to.

The show is written by Liverpool-born, Canada-settled, Pakistani-origin writer Zarqa Nawaz, who according to one write-up:

…has acquired a cult status with her films, which examine and demolish stereotypes associated with Muslims as terrorists, wife abusers and religious extremists. And that too with loads of wit. The name of her production company “FUNdamentalist Films” reflects her satirical bent of mind, and this streak is evident in her film trilogy – ‘BBQ Muslims’, ‘Death Threat’ and her first feature ‘Real Terrorists Don’t Belly Dance.’

While the motto of FUNdamentalist Films is to put “fun back into fundamentalism” the trilogy is what she calls “terrordies”, or comedies about terrorism. The films have been widely acclaimed, and requests have been pouring in for copies. So much so that Nawaz quips, “I could spend my lifetime at the post office, mailing them (the cassettes) out.”

There are plenty of Pakistani connections to the show, including the lead character – a clean cut Toronto lawyer played by Zaib Shaikh who comes to the little town to be the Imam of a makeshift mosque.

Indeed, post 9/11 there is a real thrust of young Muslims in general, including young Pakistanis in the performing arts trying to build inroads into their host communities that earlier generations of Muslim, and Pakistanis, had so neglected to build (see ATP write-ups on Pakistanis abroad doing so in the theatre, in music (also here), in documentary film-making).

So, here is the first episode. What you think of it:

P.S. Thanks to Azmi and the blog Qiyas for directing us to the video.

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33 responses to “Zarqa Nawaz and ‘Little Mosque on the Prairie’”

  1. Daktar says:

    Had been hearing a lot about this the last week so good to be able to see it.

    Quite well done. Funny and also some serious messages. I think it has done a good job of keeping it interesting for Canadian audiences while also sending some serious messages.

  2. TURAB says:

    makes me proud of being a pakistani canadian due to the diversity and tolerance that exists here… awesome show and highly recommended……

    PS: its a funny show.. nothing serious… thought i would just remind one last time!

  3. Kabir says:

    LoLzzz very funny…

  4. Moeen Bhatti says:

    Adil: Thanks for posting this. Great show and very funny. How can we watch all the episodes here in the US?

  5. A. says:

    FYI – Americans living in states that border Canada e.g. Michigan, can get the show on their own cable network.

  6. ayesha says:

    Loved the humor!

  7. Saadia Khan says:

    I read about this program once on CBC and now its on net, thats great! …thanks for the video Adil.

  8. Saadia Khan says:

    ok, back after watching 1st episode of 20 mins, honestly, I liked the trailor better. The program lacks pretty much good/professional sense of humour. I thought Zarqa would bring some British sense of humour and the program must be excellent/professional. naah! I am very disappointed, atleast the 1st episode looks disaster. Perhaps, I was comparing it with “goodness, gracious me” (a comedy from BBC UK). They had also some clips on Pakistanis and muslims but one cannot compare those with this program…hmmm it needs alot alot alot of improvement!!!

    CBC has a good name, I am big fan of their local (live on net) radio channels, they broadcast so professional reportage and I think this unprofessional comedy program (atleast 1st episode) is not for the prime TV channels like CBC.

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