by Ayman El Hakea
Published on: Jun 25, 2005
Type: Opinions

A couple of weeks ago, I went with my friends Ahmed, Loaïe, and Mohamed, to the Green Plaza cinema complex in Alexandria to watch the new movie: “Kingdom of Heaven.” I was very excited to watch that movie, particularly because it deals with a very sensitive issue, in an already sensitive period the world witnesses nowadays. Moreover, “Khaled El-Nabawy,” a famous Egyptian actor was taking part in that movie. It was one of the fewest times I see a western movie showing parts about the Muslim and Arab culture that were either ignored or deliberately misrepresented in countless of Hollywood’s movies and series.

The film criticized the way the church controlled decision-making in Europe at the time of the early medieval crusades. Ridley Scott, the film’s director emphasized the real reasons behind the crusades, which are not that much different from today: economic interests, hidden behind fanatic religious clichés. Though, the movie did not neglect that good people desiring peace and prosperity existed in both camps: the Muslims and the Crusaders.

The main point in which I disagree with Scott is that scene where the movie star “Balian” expressed his wills that everyone should live in Jerusalem peacefully under the crusaders’ rule. The scene just ignores the fact that the crusaders when they seized Jerusalem from the Muslims, they killed all the people, plants, and animals, without distinction. Another thing is that when “Sebila” the queen of Jerusalem, said to “Balian” that Jesus said: “Choose”, while Muhammad said: “Submit”. This saying neglects countless Qur’anic verses and Hadiths (narrations of Muhammad) emphasizing the human responsibility in choosing one’s faith: (و قل الحق من ربكم فمن شاء فليؤمن و من شاء فليكفر ), إذا لم تستح فاصنع ما شئت كما تدين تدان، و الديان لا يموت) ). The point is that “submit” after you “choose”. Many shots in the movie were either demonstrating a lack of research about Islam and Muslim, or a naïve historical sense. First, when “Balian” was given control on an Oasis in Palestine, he was the first to figure out that wells ought to be dug to get enough water – as if the local inhabitants did not know that. Second, there were several shots showing the Muslim prayer in a funny way; men were scattered in untidy rows each man 18 yards from the following one. The funniest part was when the “Azan/ call for prayer” was going side by side with a whole Muslim army already praying. Any Muslim child knows that first, there is the “Azan,” then the “Iqama,” and then it’s prayer. Another shot showed that the Muslim army had separated a bunch of heads of the crusaders leaders from their bodies, as if Muslims were not different than the armies of Genghis Khan! Scott missed the simple battle rules set by Islam: “never mess with a dead body.” Furthermore, when “Saladin,” the Muslim sultan, was praying to the Muslim dead, he did not complete the 7 verses of “Al-Fateha,” and finished it after only 3 verses.

The most touching part of the movie was when “Saladin,” after capturing Jerusalem, was standing inside a church. He has seen a cross falling on the ground, then he took it carefully, adjusted its position, cleaned it from dust, and put it on a table inside the church. The film was finished by some typed words wondering: “when will be the time peace will find its way to the “Kingdom of Heaven” (i.e. the middle east)? I personally think that this applies not only to that particular region, but to the whole world…..and that day will not come unless people exhibit a major “self-change.”

Overall, the film showed the way Muslims entered Jerusalem, granting everyone safety and freedom, from the way the early crusaders entered the same city, just wiping out every sign of life. I strongly believe that the film emphasized some core values of the Muslim civilization, which are unknown to most of today’s non-Muslim people.

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