Dearborn, Michigan used to be famous for being the auto headquarters of the world. These days, it's better known for producing the extreme poise and class of Team Rima Fakih and All American Circus...we mean, Muslim. Why anyone would expect reality television to explain Islam to Americans in a factual and clear way is beyond our comprehension. Unfortunately, those who are outraged by the show among the Muslim community need some perspective: it's a show about Muslims, not Islam.
All-American Muslim is not a form of propagation of Islamic beliefs due to the kindness of the hearts of television executives. In fact, TLC is rivaled by only MTV when it comes to documenting subgroups of American culture that are entertaining (read: filled with drama) and different. Would anyone watch a show depicting five devout and pious Muslim families? Absolutely not! If the show offends you as a Muslim, then you've got bigger problems with reality than reality TV could ever show you. All-American Muslim doesn't even begin to highlight the problems our community faces. There is merit in condemning the idea it represents Islam, but it certainly provides a snapshot into some of the growing epidemics facing our community.
Event planner Nina Bazzy wants to open a night-club. Considering the way she is dressed and carries herself, was anyone expecting her to open a mosque? As terrible as her portrayal of an American Muslim is, we shouldn't worry about that image. We should be more concerned about the countless number of our youth who partake in haram activities at venues such as night-clubs.
Another slightly ironic situation arises when many in the Muslim community voice outrage at the wedding that takes place on the first episode of All-American Muslim. Well, I'm outraged that you're outraged. Every day in Dearborn, a gender mixed wedding takes place, where women, even those in Hijab, wear formfitting dresses and makeup and dance with men. In fact, Dearborn weddings have constantly been the topic of discussion by scholars who have been offended and frustrated with this community's failure to take a stand against mixed weddings with music, dancing, and immodest dress. Why is it that now this is a problem, and previously no one said anything? Un-Islamic weddings have become such a norm in Dearborn that otherwise practicing individuals find themselves pressured into attending or even incorporating strictly un-Islamic practices into their own weddings.
Perhaps it would be against our interest to realize that many Muslims fall short of the great status God has given us as followers of Islam. The worst part of it all? TLC didn't make anyone act in a way that was untrue to them. The families shown on All-American Muslim are part of our community too, and they are far from the only ones who may disregard Islamic laws. Of course, not all the characters on the show behave in this way. But at the end of the day, TLC has its own agenda to promote. Watering down Islam and making it kosher serves the interest of many parties and powers. However, our interest doesn't lie in fighting a reality show, but rather, making sure that our daughters embrace dignity over the disgrace of immodesty, and making sure our community seeks to reach a more profound level in our understanding and practice of Islam.
In a few years, TLC will find itself a new community to document and edit to its liking, but in a few years, how many more Nina Bazzys will our community have produced?