Gay Muslim movie ‘Naz + Maalik’ raising funds for post-production

They are doing so via Kickstarter. Click here to learn more about the campaign.

The movie by American production company Pecking Wilds is set in Brooklyn, New York City. A description from their Kickstarter page:

NAZ + MAALIK, an independent film 

A decade into the War on Terror, two first-generation Muslim teens – friends, classmates, business partners, lovers – spend their Friday hustling the streets of Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn. While deciding whether to tell their community about their homosexuality, Naz and Maalik’s ambiguous and secretive relationship unknowingly sets an FBI agent on their trail. As the agent grows convinced that the boys are engaged in “violent radicalism,” her pursuit becomes increasingly menacing and the stakes surrounding the boys’ hapless hustling and lies grow. What began as a struggle to protect their sexual identities evolves into a crisis much larger – a fight to stay alive.

I first read about the movie via the Facebook page Muslims Against Homophobia and LGBT Hate.

That led me to a Huffington Post article by Yasmine Hafiz, who wrote that the movie is by director Jay Dockendorf. After hearing about the FBI’s programme of secret spying on mosques in Brooklyn, Jay wanted to speak on this issue via a movie that tells the story of how two closeted Muslim teens are affected by FBI surveillance.

Yasmine also wrote:

Dockendorf was appalled by NYPD and FBI tactics, which cast suspicion on perfectly innocent groups of people without cause. He says, “Mosques and prayer and devotion and love are beautiful things. Per NYPD rules, though, a business can be labeled a location of concern if police can expect to find groups of Middle Easterners there.”

“Mosque-goers are not committing a crime. How can you not take issue with the government spying on its own people just because they’re praying in a mosque?” he asks.

… Though the American Muslim community is becoming increasingly diverse, the problem of ignorance and bigotry towards Islam is still an issue. In that sense, American Muslims share a history of prejudice with the black and gay communities, which all intersect in this film.

“The film considers Islamophobia through the lens of homophobia and homophobia through the lens of racism,” comments Dockendorf. “I know they’re very separate issues, but for some people, real people on whom these characters are based, they’re completely linked and the balance is delicate. “

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Image by Pecking Wilds / Jay Dockendorf. From kickstarter.com. Click to go there.

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Islamic Fashion Fair: lovely idea, but I think a different name would be nice

I came across articles on Indonesia’s Islamic Fashion Fair (IIFF) 2013 which was held from 29th May to 2nd June in their capital Jakarta. That was interesting to me, that there is such a thing. An article about it as well here, a Huffington Post piece with lots of photos of the gorgeous outfits featured.

The first thing that struck my mind was, ‘Islamic Fashion Fair? What does Islam or any other religion have to do with fashion? It just seems strange to me to have those two words together: Islam and fashion. Inappropriate is the word I’m thinking of. To use the name of Islam to sell stuff like fashion.

I guess it refers to the ‘modest clothing’ worn by Muslim women, mostly the hijab I think. Islam.about.com explains hijab as:

a word sometimes used to generally describe a Muslim woman’s modest dress. More specifically, it refers to a square or rectangular piece of fabric which is folded, placed over the head, and fastened under the chin as a head scarf.

The IIFF 2013 is the fourth one for the Jakarta organisers, and apparently it is not the only such fashion festival in the world. It’s been going on for years in many cities around the world. I don’t know if they all feature the word Islamic in their name, but I came across a few that do including a 2010 one featured in this video below, that was held in Monte Carlo and put together by Malaysian organisers, I think.

So, modest clothing worn by modest Muslim women = Islamic? Err, okay. But what if it’s not so modest anymore? As in, the outfit covers up the lady but it’s so striking and fabulous and attracts attention and admiration. I mean, hey, that’s a good thing, but modest?

Here in the streets of Singapore, and in Malaysia, I have seen so many different styles of the tudung headscarf worn by Muslim women, and creatively put-together outfits. I think it’s great that these women are so stylish. Modesty doesn’t have to be a sombre or boring affair. It’s great that these women have turned what they believe is an obligation into something as fun and delightful as fashion.

I mean the primary purpose is for religious obligation, right? I think. I don’t know if this is the case for all of these women, because I’ve come across some outfits that are really bright and eye-catching, not just in colour and prints but also in its embellishments. Including that bling-bling-looking thing, what is it called? Labucci? Haha.

Then there are the girls I come across sometimes who wear the tudung but also wear tight jeans (like the still trendy skinny jeans thing), with the curves of their butt exposed, instead of, say, have a long loose blouse to cover that area. Or with faces caked with lots of make-up. Now, I love looking at these girls and appreciate their style and effort and I am actually pleased for them that they look great. But to be honest I also become curious and wonder at the same time: so what’s your point of wearing the tudung? If your outfit is meant to indicate modesty but it’s kinda flashy, isn’t it?  Of course I never say that out loud. Nobody wants to risk getting a tight slap on the face, especially in public.

I think that’s the crux of my issue. Having the word ‘Islamic’ in something so flashy, so ‘out there’. Hence I don’t think having ‘Islamic’ with ‘Fashion Festival’ is appropriate. But that’s just my opinion, of course. *shrugs*

Why not just call it, and here are just two suggestions:

1. ‘Modesty Fashion Fair/Festival’. Sounds awkward or boring? Eye-roll inducing? Or,

2. ‘Hijab Fashion Fair/Festival’. Something like that

Also consider: if you don’t use the word Islamic in it, the fashion fair might perhaps reach out and interest more non-Muslim women as well. Just as there are markets for different non-mainstream fashion, for example the plus-size segment, there is a market for non-Muslim women who choose to dress conservatively, so why not explore the option of including them. Sure, they’re not as covered-up as Muslim women in general perhaps, but they might still appreciate the ideas, minus the head scarf, of the dresses and accessories from the Islamic Fashion Fair designers. My Herculean effort of a few seconds worth of typing ‘modest fashion‘ into Google search, garnered a lot of blogs and other sites specialising in that, and not just from Muslim and Christian girls.

And now writing this it just occured to me that wouldn’t it be great if, for starters, a group of Muslim and Christian girls who are into modest clothing, get together to organise a fashion fair together. Like in a uni campus, for starters. In Singapore, hopefully? Or maybe this sort of thing is already happening?

Anyway, I’d like to end this post by writing that I don’t mean any offense or disrespect to any woman observing the hijab, whether those involved in the Islamic Fashion Fair in Jakarta, or in general. I am aware and understand that as it is they may already have to put up with crap from other people who may insist on thinking or saying that they are oppressed or forced or whatever into covering up. I’m happy for all these women who don’t give a shit what other people think, and just go about their own lives wearing the hijab, whether plain conservative ones, or more fashionable and dazzling ones.

And oh here are some stuff I came across on  Tumblr. Not related to the topic in the title of this post, but I just find them interesting and want to include them here. Click any of the images to go to the sites where I got them from.

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Image from: faithpeaceismyname.tumblr.com.

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Image from: perksofbeingjuicy.tumblr.com

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Image via: takealookatyourlife.tumblr.com

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Image from: florahl-soul.tumblr.com

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Update 3rd July 2013: Illustration by Yaz Raja. Click image to go to the fascinating blog of this talented artist.
Click here to go directly to her post where this illustration was featured.
(Image formerly credited to: islamicartdb.com, via itsmaiiso.tumblr.com, where I first saw it.)

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Image from: themuslimrevert.tumblr.com

Update 4th July 2013: Added the following links.

Update 7th August 2013: Added the following link.

Arpad Miklos

Arpad Miklos

Arpad Miklos (born Péter Kozma) (1967-2013). Image from the Tumblr site V(anity)H(air). Click to go to source

Last week I read about the death of porn star Arpad Miklos on huffingtonpost, and on the dailymail, which made me sad because I like him. What’s even sadder is that apparently he committed suicide. Gosh I just noted Aaron Swartz last month who ended his life too.

Arpad passed away on February the 3rd in New York, at the age of 45.

His real name is Péter Kozma. He was born in Hungary, where he worked as a chemist before being discovered by director Kristen Bjorn. Arpad appeared in both gay and straight porn videos.

He also appeared in the Perfume Genius video ‘Hood’ just last year, which I absolutely love and noted in this post. Heck I’ll just put up the video again here; it’s incredibly cute and funny and hauntingly beautiful.

Fellow porn star Colby Keller wrote a beautiful tribute to Arpad on his blog (link NSFW) which include the following words:

While I don’t pretend to fully know the rationale behind his decision, I can say that I’ve struggled myself with depression and suicide.  Like any physically-demanding, socially-vexed form of labor, sex work isn’t easy work– not least because of the stigma and meager income.  You give a lot of yourself for what can seem like very little in return.  It can take its toll emotionally.  The naked body is a vulnerable body after-all.  We should remember to celebrate Arpad, the sexy man behind the scenes and in front of the camera who gave so much of himself for our desire, and not condemn a choice privately considered and personally significant enough to result in such extreme measures.

Stigma. Yeah that’s life we generally look down on sex workers like porn actors and prostitutes, and I think that’s terrible. I don’t celebrate porn stars but I don’t condemn them either. That would be hypocritical as I jerk off to them sometimes. Sorry, I know that’s over-sharing, but I think it’s just so ridiculous when people *automatically* look down on a prostitute but *automatically* look up admiringly to any rich guy in a suit. Lawyers, bankers, politicians, etc, even doctors; sometimes we forget not all are noble and they can be screwed up as hell too. I think that as long as the sex worker practices safe sex and is in the industry out of his/her own free will, not exploited or forced to out of circumstances like poverty for example, my opinion is that it’s fine.