Monday 14 April 2014

‘Jinn’ – Shadows in the Night May Bring Islam, Muslims to Light

 Figures in the corners of your eyes, strange noises in the middle of the night, the feeling of being watched - have you experienced any of these? Yes?

Your heart races, adrenalin pumps through your veins and fear creeps into your mind - is it just your imagination? No? We know what the answer is. It's a jinn.

Since we were children, Muslims have told stories from generation after generation about the third being living on earth. With certainty and resolve, we know that it is exists, and we know that it's the answer to the fearful question of "What goes bump in the night?"

Now, the rest of the world will learn about what we've known about for years - the jinn. God creation made from smokeless fire, jinns live in the unseen world, in dimensions beyond our visible universe. 

On April 4, 2014 "Jinn," a true labor of love written and directed by Ajmal Zaheer Ahmad and much-anticipated by Muslim audiences, will open in theaters across the country. "Jinn" is the thrilling tale of Shawn, an automotive designer with a high-powered job, who appears to have the perfect life until one day when he receives a message that he will soon incur the wrath of a generational curse. When a series of nightmarish events reveal the ominous warning to be true, Shawn seeks the help from the mysterious Gabriel (Ray Park of "X-Men" and "Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace") and tortured mental patient Ali (Faran Tahir of "Star Trek" and "Iron Man"), who knows about otherworldly force that is reaching out to him.

"Jinn" is a fun, family film that explores ideology never seen before on the big screen. Last weekend, the movie was screened to well-known and respected imams, who clapped at the end of the film and congratulated the producers on doing a good job at authentically telling audiences about jinns. 

"We made this film with the intention of creating a project that would make Muslims feel proud and not compromised," Ahmad said. "Though we did fill in the gaps with our imagination, we did a lot of research and were very careful not to make any missteps. This is no ordinary tale. We wanted created a film about good fighting evil and about people coming together to fight a common foe. This movie transcends the horror genre; it is a cool, action film."

A native of Michigan, Ahmad said the idea came to him at age 9 and said the concept for the whole idea may have come from jinn. Yes, you heard that right. There may be more to the film and the education of this inter-dimensional being than we know. 

"The reality is that the story of jinn also is a fresh and old concept," Ahmad said. "It's the best of both worlds. It's fresh to new audiences and appeals to an audience that has been waiting for a story about this for a while." 

However, beyond just being a fun movie, "Jinn" producers, who have poured millions into the project, said their ultimate goal is to create change.

"If you believe that there needs to be a change in the world about how minorities are depicted on the screen, then [seeing this movie] is the first step you can take to make that change," Ahmad said. "We are not doing this for money. We are doing this for the community."

These words may unfortunately ring true for a movie that is opening the same weekend as projected-blockbuster "Captain America: The Winter Soldier." However, if history is any kind of indicator, "Jinn" could be the perfect counterprogramming and sneak away with good numbers and a positive message for Muslims.

"It is important for us to create this type of content and to make these kinds of projects," Ahmad said. "We've seen the ramification the depiction it has on young people. We want them to be inspired to create this content, get involved in the media and find careers in the industry. This is the first time, we are seeing a hero on the screen that looks like us and shares our background." 

Filmed and produced in Michigan by Exxodus Pictures, the producers said they have a deep love for the state and the city of Detroit. Their intention was to shine a light on their home state in addition to telling an authentic tale.

"We filmed in Michigan because we want to help with the state's revival and the city's resurgence," said Shahid Syed, Partner & Executive Producer of Exxodus Pictures. "We received amazing support from Michigan, and the film has been welcomed with open arms"

The film crew said they were able to shoot in amazing places that others have not had access to before such as the Highland Park Ford Plant, the birthplace of the Model T; Turnip Rock in Port Austin, Michigan; and Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary in Monroe, Michigan.

"We are looking forward to celebrating the release of 'Jinn' with the people of Michigan," Ahmad said. "This weekend, we will be attending many screenings and enjoying the experience with the audience. This is an incredible opportunity for our community to say that our narrative is important, and we hope Muslims nationwide will mobilize. If you cannot support a movie that is made about us with the first line in the film being 'Bismillah,' then you can never complain again about not being counted." 

Exxodus has lofty goals for this weekend's release, saying that if just 10 percent of the American Muslim community made it to the theater, the industry would change overnight.

"It is imperative and our duty to mobilize as a group to watch this movie in the theater," Syed said. "On Monday morning when the box office tabulations come in, we want Hollywood and the Western world to take notice of the power of our community at the box office."

One thing is true: Religion is a hot commodity at the box office. From "Noah" to "God's Not Dead," Hollywood is taking notice of religious-based stores. It is now up to movie-goers to keep the momentum going and show that the box office might also include Muslims. 

Source: Marium F. Mohiuddin

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