#BoycottMovieofProphet: What is it and why is it trending?
Recently #BoycottMovieofProphet is trending in India even though the movie in concern, “Muhammad: The Messenger of God”, was itself released in 2015 in Iran itself. The film, according to Islamic traditions, was based on the real-life messenger of God Prophet Muhammad.
After 5 years of its release in Iran, speculations are being made to release the movie, “Muhammad: The Messenger of God”, in India. The movie will either be released on online platforms or in theatres. But even before its release, the movie has already garnered a lot of negative attention with #BoycottMovieofProphet trending in India.
There are a few reasons as to why the movie has already landed in hot waters even before being released
- Subjects like displaying some art form of Prophet Muhammad isn’t taken lightly in the Sunni branch’s Islamic faith.
- The movie went on to showcase Prophet Muhammad’s real-life activities, until the age of 13 in Iran as it is a predominantly Shia country with about ninety-five percent of the population being Shia while on the other hand, India has a Sunni majority with the Sunni’s constituting about eighty-five percent of the Muslim population and hence already released a fatwa in 2015 against the filmmakers.
And when the news about the release on the OTT platform in India came out in public, Indian Muslims exploded on Twitter demanding a complete ban on the film, giving birth to a new trend called #BoycottMovieOfProphet on Twitter.
It is a 2015 movie directed by Majid Majidi and co-written with Kambuzia Partovi on the Islamic faith. The movie is set in the sixth century when the plot revolves around the Islamic prophet Muhammad’s childhood. The film is the biggest-budget movie in Iranian cinema as of yet. The development of the movie began in 2007, and Majidi wrote the screenplay’s first draft by 2009. By 2011, the majority of the film was ready for a colossal set built-in Qom city near Tehran. In South Africa, different scenes have been filmed.
Throughout the filming process for accuracy purposes, the director worked closely with historians and archaeologists. Post-production works started in Munich in late 2013 and finished in 2014. Vittorio Storaro does the cinematography and a composed film score by A.R. Rahman. The film was announced at the 88th Academy Awards as Iranian entry to Best Foreign Language Film.
This film portrays pre-Islamic Arabia as seen through Muhammad’s eyes from birth until age 13. An assault is launched to destroy Kaaba by the King of Habasha. He leads thousands of troops, horses, and elephants in a well-equipped force. The elephants stop and refuse to proceed because of the divine order. Millions of small birds then unleash a shower of stones on the armies of Abraha and the army is annihilated followed a month later by the birth of Muhammad.
The controversy surrounding the movie
The movie has landed in hot waters in India because it showcases the life of Prophet Muhammad and the display of his life in any art form is strictly restricted in the Sunni branch of Islam faith and India being a predominantly Sunni country has the majority of the Muslims expressing their backlash over the release of the movie.
The most common argument made by the people is that in the Islamic faith, the divine force prohibits filmography and a movie isn’t needed to showcase the refined manners, mercy, and sublimity of Prophet Muhammad and a movie could never do justice in portraying him with accuracy.
This isn’t the first time a movie has faced backlash for ‘hurting the religious sentiments’ of a particular group. India is a diverse country and whenever a movie revolving around religious beliefs is portrayed, it is always at the risk of not being accurate according to the people because of the complicated and rich history India has.
A significant portion of the population is religious and takes issues regarding religion very seriously and hence movies and books regarding religion are always at the risk of facing a backlash. One such example is the movie,’Padmavat’, where not only the makers had to change the name of the film but also received multiple death threats along with the actors of the film because the Hindu Rajput sect found the movie to be disrespectful towards their legacy and religious sentiments.
Hence in India making and releasing a religion movie is a surefire way to trouble in court. It’s a sensitive subject, one that needs to be delicately handled, lest a filmmaker spurs the wrath of millions of believers around the world. Others can handle it with ease, while others end up faced with a lot of harsh feedback.
If a movie revolving around people’s religious beliefs is made, it should be handled with great care and efforts to make the movie as historically accurate as possible should be made while trying to not shed a negative light upon the story and the characters to avoid damaging the sentiments of the people.