In this survey of the increasing Islamic leisure business, The Steadiness presumably refers back to the line faith-based artists should stroll with respect to spiritual strictures. As one interviewee places it: “It’s a must to push the boundaries, however on the identical time you fall sufferer to potential sins, as a result of generally that’s what a sin is.” British film-maker Abrar Hussain’s documentary turns into notably extra involving when, three-quarters of the way in which in, it begins to delve into such non secular predicaments. Previous to this, it’s a cheerleading whistlestop tour by means of Islamic music, movie, social media and comedy that solely fitfully engages with the deeper points.
Typically referring to the “we” of the ummah, Hussain makes the curious option to largely preach to the transformed, whereas selecting reference factors that have to be a bit apparent to them. The Steadiness opens with eulogies to self-taught in style missionary Ahmed Deedat and Muhammad Ali; OK, they have been entertaining, however the movie is obscure on how they relate to a wider business. Moustapha Akkad’s 1977 epic The Message, which informed the Prophet’s story with out depicting him immediately, leads the part on cinema. However as soon as once more, this consultant instance – attention-grabbing sufficient in isolation – fails to convey the scope of all that is happening within the subject. The Steadiness slips too simply into montage and generalities; the part on social media, full of filler about self-obsession and trolling, is weak.
Hussain says that there was no Islamic leisure business till 20 years in the past – however this overlooks the Egyptian, Afghan, Iranian, Lebanese and Turkish cinema and music industries (although it’s debatable how “Islamic” they’re). Solely in a phase on South African nasheed singer Zain Bhikha performing to hundreds in Sierra Leone does The Steadiness step out of a western perspective and start to convey the complete range of the viewers. The part on Muslim standup comedy – pioneered by the US’s Preacher Moss, and which grew to become a significant outlet for cultural self-assertion post-9/11 – is the sharpest. Presumably as a result of this type of comedy feeds most immediately off the intersection of the sacred and the secular that’s the nub for each entertainer featured right here.