Debut: TLC's "All-American Muslim"

So I'm sure that some of us tuned into TLC's "All American Muslim" debut this evening. After watching the trailer, I wasn't sure if I'd watch it or not, but my curiosity got the best of me and I caved in!!

The premise of the show is documenting (very!) different Arab Muslim lives in the city of Dearborn, Michigan, the most concentrated city of Arabs outside of the Middle East. There's a spectrum of Muslim families in the city, ranging from visibly-Muslim to not at all (i.e. women wearing the hijab, men in traditional clothing), to those who prefer to keep their spirituality within and not advertised on the outside. So in comparison to the rest of the Muslim Ummah in the States and Canada, it does reflect the mosaic of Muslims that exists, so I give kudos to that.

At the same time, the show documents only ONE culture within Islam: Lebanese Arabs. It is very evident that these families are quite well off: BMW X6s zoom by the screen, perfectly botox-ed faces smile and blond locks are flicked, and high end couture litters the screen. Most are first or second generation American Muslims. You have police officers, high school football coaches, and more intriguingly, an event planner who is trying to open a lounge/club and has to break the news to her parents. Yikes, wouldn't wanna be ya!

The premier was interesting in that it showcased a variety of families and showed how they each define Islam within their lives. The main story revolved around a single mother marrying an Irish-Catholic guy who then converts to Islam. It showed the tough situation Muslim women face when they choose to marry outside of Islam, as their marriage is not valid unless the groom first converts.

So while I don't think the show is reflective of Muslims in Canada, it is definitely a thorough look at a very concentrated population of Muslims in the States. Remember, these Lebanese families are well established, well-off, and are dealing with issues that may or may not be within other Muslim families as well. It's obvious that if an Iranian, Pakistani, Sudanese, Egyptian, etc Muslim community was made into a reality show, it would look very different.

Lastly, I just have this feeling that TLC is using the drama these families are facing to hook viewers. Kind of like "I have to tune in next week, so-and-so's marriage is falling apart". There were educational moments about Islam in between the main stories and they were posed as discussions between various family members (which was neat!). So I hope that viewers are learning more about Islam while understanding that what they are watching is a WHOLE lotta culture and doesn't apply to all Muslims :)

P.S. The event planner lady who is trying to open the lounge/club (non-hijab wearing) made a comment that irritated me: "I don't wear a hijab and I'm a strong woman, so people just don't know how to take me". Soooo, you're saying that most non-Muslims look at hijabi American women and think they're weak?! She then goes on to say that she's ambitious, driven, and goes for what she wants...umm, yeah, ok, as much as you'd like to think you're a rare gem, you ain't sistah! Take a number and wait in line!! ;-)

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