Saturday, July 31, 2004

TV Series Show ‘Warmth’ Of Canadian Muslims

By Muneeb Nasir
IOL Correspondent

TORONTO, July 27 ( – A new documentary series currently being televised in Canada were chiefly produced to show "warmth" of the Muslim community in Canada and introduce their rich culture to fellow citizens, the director said Monday, July 26.

"I produced the series to please Allah firstly," Michael Milo, a Muslim convert, told in an exclusive interview.

"And as a means to bring Islam in a non-threatening and realistic way to Canadians by showing the warmth of the Muslim community."

The three-part series, "A New Life in a New Land : The Muslim Experience in Canada ," has been running on Canada ’s multi-faith channel, Vision TV, since July 15.

The documentary series examines the cultural and religious lives of Canadian Muslims.

The series host is Dawud Wharnsby Ali, internationally renowned Muslim singer, songwriter and children’s entertainer.

Each episode of the three-part series is 48 minutes and directed towards general viewers of any faith group.

Part One, "The Mosaic", which was aired July 15, tells the story of Muslim immigration to Canada , from the early history of the community to the experiences of recent arrivals.

Part two, "In Faith and Practice", scheduled to go on air on July 22, looks at how Muslims practice their faith in a Canadian context.

It also examines the significance of the Noble Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), and explores the Muslim understanding of issues such as family, marriage, social responsibility and death.

The final episode, "A Warm Welcome", scheduled for broadcast on July 29, highlights the contributions that Canadian Muslims have made to the country.

"We have also created a web site and educator's guide to accompany the series. We hope this will be used by teachers, libraries, government agencies etc.," added Milo , who also produced the documentary.

"We are now developing a presentation kit for the Muslim community explaining how they may use the series in their city. From a dawah point of view, I think the project will be successful if communities pick it up and use it as it is intended to be used."

Multicultural Make-up

Milo further said the Muslim community in Canada is a microcosm of Canada ’s multicultural groups, adding his documentary tries to highlight that diversity.

"At any given mosque throughout the country, you might find up to fifty different ethnic and cultural groups," he added.

"The response has been very positive from both the Muslim and non-Muslim community. It is interesting to see the response of colleagues who have worked on the show and who have seen it. Many comment that they learn things they did not know," he added.

‘Power Of Qur’an’

Milo has worked in the field of educational media production for over 10 years and is currently a media producer at the Division of Media and Technology, University of Saskatchewan .

In the past, Milo ’s independent productions explored pop culture, sub-culture and the beliefs of western society.

This pursuit led Milo to a further study of Eastern cultures and religions with a major focus on Islam.

During this period he came in contact with a Muslim family who peeked his interest in Islam.

"An interesting Muslim family who I got to know eventually lead me to read the Qur’an," he said.

"The power of the Qur’an to speak to an individual directly changed me," he recalled.

Since then Milo has traveled to South Asia and performed Hajj (pilgrimage) to Makkah.

He hopes to continue producing documentaries with Islamic themes.

"The history of Islam is so rich and there is so little produced about it. I am hoping to possibly do a project on the historical sites mentioned in the Qur’an," he told IOL.

In 2000, Milo was awarded the Certificate of Creative Excellence from the US International Film and Video Festival.

He worked in 1996 as a segment producer on a pilot for Vision TV in the US .

The program series, ‘ON SIGHT’, was a documentary news series that dealt with contemporary issues faced by Muslims in North America .

Also in 1996, Milo co-produced a series of Public Service Announcements clearing stereotypes about Muslims, which attracted millions of viewers over CNN.

The number of Canadian Muslims has increased dramatically over the last decade, according to a census released in May last year.

The census attributed the increase to immigration from South Asia , North Africa and the Middle East .

Islam has become the number one non-Christian faith in Canada .



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