Wednesday, June 25, 2014


By Mansor bin Puteh

Muslims only know how to react. We are reactionaries. And reactionaries are normally those who have idle minds and limited intellect, they only know how to follow blindly without thinking.

We don’t lead. We have nothing that we can be proud of; there is no real leadership system in the Muslim World.

We only live to support the development of the west. We support their F-1 races; we copy their beauty contests, entertainment reality shows and so on. And we feel guilty if we do not behave like them. 

We only know how to get angry for nothing without knowing why we are angry. It is energy that is wrongly channeled.

We lack the spirit of enterprise, discovery and adventure. We stick to ourselves and are not brave to face the world.

Yes, we are angry over petty issues and things. We do so because we are weak, not because they are strong, but because we are weaker.

1434 years of Muslimhood has not taught us much, for we read the Koran wrongly and interpret the Prophet’s ‘Sunnah’ to suit our fancies without understanding their essence.

We have betrayed our religion and what it stands for. We allowed the others to trample on us and belittle us on all fronts.

But how could the 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide in 57 countries and all the others can be said to be weak and almost irrelevant to the development of the modern world?

We chose to be weak. We chose not to have our own film, artistic, intellectual, academic, science and technology and media centers as well as the other centers.

The Muslim World therefore does not exist. It only exists in our mind; it is just a figment of our imagination when all else is difficult to contemplate, and it is only when the OIC leaders meet every two years to come up with useless resolutions.

The Muslim World is no doubt a parasite of the west, which had benefited from us for too long, from our natural resources, our expertise and especially, especially our tardiness and disunity.

How long must we allow ourselves be in such a despicable situation? Is it very difficult to break the vicious circle of despair, destitute and paralysis?

No, it is not. There is a way. The way is cheap – dirt cheap – in fact. It is to introduce the Muslim Cinema and develop the Melaka Film City.

This is a gist of the paper I presented in the First International Muslim Filmmakers’ Conference held in Tehran, Iran in February, 1994.

If the Muslim leaders want to do something useful for once, this is what it is. No point in promoting the F-1 races, inviting Celine Dion to cheer us, for it is a temporary diversion. During the races and the concerts, how many Muslims will die of starvation? Do they care?

Let’s have an open forum to discuss this issue.

* * * * * * *

Perhaps the creation of the New Muslim Cinema is what we need. It can finally be able to check the problems of the world, especially between the Muslim World and the West, and promote a more equitable and peaceful world. It may be the only means that we have at our disposal that had not been fully utilized before.

A shocker for a start? Not really.

Just consider this: Diplomacy has its limits. The politicians have proven that. Political wrangling has proven to be an effort in futility as it often muddles the problems and they get even worse the more they wrangle as issues that were previously unattached are now so.

Hundreds of millions of innocent people all over the world suffer quietly. We don’t even know where and who they are. They have become numbers. Even those who had suffered more than half a century ago are still suffering. They pass this legacy of suffering to their off-springs like it had become part of their DNA strain.

Meanwhile political leaders change and new ones appear, often with a lot of fanfare, like they had just descended from the mountains in triumph. The old ones move on to do other things before they kick the bucket, while their successors repeat their errors and statements like they are new to everyone.  

We have seen enough of political ‘shadow play’ or wayang kulit performances in the United Nations already and have gone used to them by now. They are now reruns – nothing special at all. They are just a change of cast with the same dialogue and gestures and venom.  

Meanwhile, we suffer – I mean the whole world suffers. Sadly many in America also suffer. Although they may not be physically affected by what the others suffer, but they suffer quietly and psychologically.  

So, it’s time we did something unusual and unorthodox and even if it may be too far-fetched to comprehend. The cinema may be our ultimate salvation for a world that had been so badly fractured, abused and sadly neglected. And there is light – even one that flickers at twenty-four frames per second!   

It may be a simplistic and a seemingly far-fetched idea, but one that deserves to be tried since all other attempts had failed miserably. What else can we count on now that we had not held our hopes before?

We certainly do not need to have more forums, seminars and conferences and all sorts of peace initiatives. These are all efforts that had been tried.

In fact, the problems of the Muslims and consequently the world, have become worst and this has affected their relationship with the rest of the world, particularly the West. 

But aren’t all the problems faced not only by Muslims and the others are simplistic, if one cares to look at the whole equation in the widest possible perspective and all angles, and not just listen to officials from both sides give their own accounts of them?

Some say it’s all about O-I-L. Others say its hegemony. But isn’t the world huge enough to entertain their lofty and useless ambitions? Otherwise, the outer space is there for them to partake whatever they want for their continued sustenance! 

If you do not have oil to cook food, you normally get it at the supermarket. Or you can smile and put out your hand and get your neighbor to offer some to you. But you just don’t break into your neighbor’s house and grab his stock of oil leaving him without anything to cook food for his family.

And now you are forcing him to rearrange his furniture and tell him his ways are wrong and yours are right and you want to help him improve his lot and that of his family. But he was doing okay before you wanted his oil! He may not have as much wealth as you have, but he was doing okay. And it was enough for him to get by.

May be the filmmakers and the cinema can finally neutralize everything and reverse it. Or, at least try to halt the further escalation of the problems before it continues to spread in more countries and areas in the world and turning it to pieces, and make the political leaders realize their folly.   

We have also seen how the same international political leaders from both sides of the divide have squabbled and often they returned to their respective countries not being able to do anything.

Meanwhile, those who suffer are the ordinary folks who are mostly Muslims. They might not even know if a war had caused them to suffer – or if it was really the end of the world? The two seem to be alike to many of them especially for those who live in remote areas and who do not have proper communication and do not watch television and who listen only to their tribal leaders, sages and warlords.

The Muslim World which is defined as all the 57 countries which are members of the Organization of Islamic Organization (OIC) is vast. Unfortunately it is devoid of life. And the so-called Muslim World may not even exist as an entity.

Nothing interesting is happening in it. Muslims living in it find it a drab. We do not have many things including a cinema that we can call our own. We also do not have much of a media organization to serve our special needs, without having to depend on those that had been existence all this while. Muslims generally lead a parasitic existence.

There is also a problem of image-deficit faced by Muslims and Islam. 

And the kinds of news we ‘make’ as reported by ‘them’ seem to be the kinds that made us look and seem helpless and the Muslims are constantly standing looking lost in front of somebody else’s guns or tanks.

Stories of the death of scores of Muslims do not make Muslims in other parts of our world feel agitated anymore. They are just news. Even the television stations and newspapers in most Muslim countries now prefer to give more space to films and modern Western culture than the deaths of Muslims.

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 caters to the puerile tastes of the viewers, but one that has a mission. It comes with a more profound purpose – to stabilize our senses to make them more attractive to the idea of promoting peace than to be agitated by the intense desire to be engaged in a war.

It will also be the industry that is able to create creative, artistic and intellectual leaders amongst the Muslims and other non-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.

If this does not happen, chances are some will find it expedient to turn the knowledge that they had acquired while studying at prestigious universities in America and the West for other nefarious and counterproductive purposes. 

The center for the New Muslim Cinema can be in Malaysia – a non-Arab, Asian Muslim country which can help to shift all the paradigms and stand in between the Middle East and the West. There are many other better 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.

Hong Kong with a population of a mere six million produces 120 feature films each year for the World Chinese market. So surely, we as a world of 1.5 billion people can come up with hundreds and possibly a thousand interesting feature films to share amongst ourselves and with the others.  
It’s too bad that the Islamic Development Bank – IDB 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 had been consulted and asked to offer suggestions to include in it. They always think only politicians and economists can come up with all the brilliant ideas that serve the needs of the Muslim World.

But haven’t they all 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 fifty-seven 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 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 and for the West to relate to. 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 – even if the light that it creates is one that flickers at twenty-four frames per second! 

1 comment:

mohdsyazwan2010 said...

I agree that using music and film can create better understanding about Islam either for Muslim or non-Muslim

I propose we create music and film for the entertainment of 1 billion muslims

When we think about it, Muslims probably have a lot of differences, but most of them still listen to Hollywood-fed music and film, whereas most of them that come to muslim world is actually bad, but there is a lot of good music and film that yet still to be discovered in the western world

This good music and film should be the example for Muslims to try to emulate, not the bad one