Thursday, February 16, 2012

DOES THE MUSLIM WORLD EXIST? – PART II. …OR DO MUSLIMS SUFFER FROM AN IMAGE-DEFICIT?

By Mansor Puteh


As someone who is trained in film, I believe by creating a New Muslim Cinema will finally have a miraculous effect on the Entire Muslim World. And it is not going to be just a film industry which cater to the puerile tastes of the viewers, but one that has a mission. It comes with a more profound purpose.

It will also be the industry that is able to create creative, artistic and intellectual leaders amongst the Muslims and other Muslims, especially those who are also involved in its development and expansion - so they can become better recognized and influential for their intellect, creativity and ingenuity, in the country and in the Entire Muslim World.

The center for the New Muslim Cinema can be in Malaysia. There are many good reasons that can support such an establishment.

We can have this multi-billion-dollar film industry that can become the core industry in Entire Muslim World around which the other industries, such as banking, airline, automobile, travel, education and publication, and so on, can further develop.

Those who are the major players in these secondary industries have been drawing too much attention for themselves for too long without serving the more profound cause of promoting greater understanding amongst Muslims and between Muslims, other than to want to make more money and expand his company. So it’s time they are shown where their places are in the real context of the development of the Entire Muslim World.

It can further enhance of Islam and Muslims in the West so they are able to relate with us better - since we now do exist.

It’s too bad that the Islamic Development Bank 1440 H Mission that was recently launched with a lot of fanfare in Kuala Lumpur is both weak and badly flawed. It has failed to include the need to create the New Muslim Cinema - a term I am introducing - as one of its main goals to achieve. No filmmaker was been consulted and asked to offer suggestions to include in it.

They think they can come up with all the brilliant ideas that serve the needs of the Muslim World. But haven’t they tried that before and failed? Haven’t they studied carefully all the 170 resolutions that were passed in all the sixteen OIC Conferences over the last few decades that didn’t mean anything to the Muslim World and Muslims? 

What is the Entire Muslim World? It includes Muslims who live in non-Muslim countries.

I hope the 57 leaders of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) won’t feel inferior if they get to read this as none of the 170 resolutions that the OIC has been implemented. The reason is these resolutions cannot be implemented and they know that. As such many feel the OIC resolutions are better off if they are written on used toilet paper!

Perhaps all of the OIC leaders should know that the Entire Muslim World is an incomplete entity because we do not have a cinema to call our own. We not only do not have a film and television center, but also do not have a media, banking and other important centers that when connected will ultimately create a semblance of our own world.

And because of this there is no focus and the social, cultural, artistic and economic development of the Entire Muslim World cannot be gauged. We only have some activities in all fields. And they are at different levels of development, neglect or disrepair.

And for as long as we do not have these centers at different parts of the Muslim World, there is no chance for the Entire Muslim World to be developed and its people be so recognized and accepted as part of the world.

We will be fractured by our differences because the differences amongst us are not taken full advantage of. In fact, we have not even attempted to take advantage of our commonalities! Worse, we will find the militants hiding in some of the fissures.

The number of these so-called Muslim militants will increase in number if the fissures become larger until they are able to create cracks that will drive the World Muslim Ummah against each other, if there is no attempt to close these fissures. I’m afraid this is what is slowly happening now.

* * * * * * * 

I am afraid the many Harvard-trained economists that we have, have failed to realize that we can create a new and exciting film industry that acts and further enhances the nation’s economic, social, cultural and political development while helping to bridge the wide social, cultural, political and religious divide that exists in the country as well as between the Entire Muslim World and the West.

And it can also be a major contributing factor to the growth of the economy of the Muslim World and beyond. It can be a major source of employment that can absorb many of the unemployed graduates that we have today since to have an important film industry we need highly qualified people and not those who are not well trained or who are school dropouts.

Our historians too have failed to highlight this matter. Don’t they know that the film industry has been in existence for more than 112 years, yet they do not know how civilizations and cultures, especially Western culture was developed and expanded - by the existence of their cinema? What is America without Hollywood? America will be much like Lesotho

It’s too bad that even our philosophers and thinkers, too - if we have them - and our political leaders, have failed to highlight the fact. That we need to have a vibrant cinema that produces hundreds of meaningful feature films on the beauty of our religion, countries and peoples, and thousands of films of many types, including documentaries, etc, so that we can share them amongst ourselves in the Entire Muslim World. In the end we can become self-sufficient and be able to promote greater goodwill and understanding amongst ourselves and with the rest of the world.

Once we have a vibrant and productive film industry that serves the need of the Entire Muslim World, we can also recapture our television from having been taken away by the outsiders who provide us with cheap programs. These programs are brought in proudly that our stations that cannot produce sufficient shows and these programs often promoting alien values that many of our young are accepting without questioning.

And the press in Muslim countries, too, has failed to highlight this fact.

The cinema may be our only salvation to create the bridge that lasts between the Muslim World and the West for long-term benefits for all. 


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