Thursday, January 17, 2008

I have a crush on a boy in my Qur'an class

I thought since I haven’t written about Little Mosque on the Prairie for awhile, why not now? Last night’s episode dealt with crushes. Layla, Baber’s daughter, has a crush on a boy in her Qur’an class. She confides in Rayyan and Amaar on the condition that they not tell her father. Amaar wants to inform Baber whereas Rayyan thinks they should let it be and not say anything unless it gets serious. ( I wonder if him being a man and her being a woman had anything to do with their opinions?) Jokes are thrown around about the consequences of Baber finding out – he’d send Layla to Pakistan or force her to wear a burqa. However, Baber over hears Rayyan and Amaar talking about it but thinks that they have a crush on each other. And the antics follow.

The fact that LMOTP tackled the issue of Muslim teenage crushes, especially that of a teenage daughter of a conservative fundamentalist, is noteworthy. As I was watching, I could not help but think about the latest stories we’ve heard of Muslim teenage daughters being killed or punished severely by their fathers for not being traditional enough. Of course, on the show they could easily joke about the possible consequences that Layla could face if her father were to find out she had a crush on a boy. But what we have seen in the media are not things to joke about. However, they are also not the norm. By making light of the father-daughter dynamic the show did demonstrate father-teenage daughter tensions as similar to those that occur in non-Muslim households. Yes, there are disagreements; yes there are punishments for behaviours deemed inappropriate by the parents. But usually there are no beatings, no threats, no murder. Just like a Muslim household. LMOTP has been trying to show this Muslim father-daughter relationship as the “usual” father-daughter relationship, but with some specific Muslim issues (hijab, male friends, sinful crushes).

As many will have figured out by now, LMOTP portrays a certain group of Muslims who follow Islam in a certain way. Although many Muslims may agree with most of the message, the message is still a conservative one. With Amaar’s concern about Layla’s crush the show tells its viewers that this is something worth concern. I mean, if an imam sees it as telling-a-parent-worthy, then it’s serious. This may be a point of contention for many. What the big deal with a crush after all? Even Rayyan felt there was no need to tall Baber unless it became serious.

But why was it serious for Amaar? What is LMOTP trying to tell us about Muslims and crushes? The most obvious answer which comes to mind is that having crushes is wrong. Wrong because it’s a dangerous road. Crushes in and of themselves are fine. But it’s what they can lead to which must be monitored and prevented by parents. Now, I am not saying that this is bad or good. This is up to the reader/viewer to decide according to their values. However, the sinfulness of crushes certainly did seem to be portrayed in the show. It seems LMOTP continues to tell us how we really should be thinking. Again, you decide what you think of that.