Saudi Arabia: The Infidel

Infidel:  According to Wikipedia,

Infidel (literally “one without faith”) is a chiefly archaic English noun, meaning one who doubts or rejects the central tenets of a religion other than one’s own or has no religious beliefs; especially in reference to Christianity or Islam.

Can you imagine that you thought you knew who you were; where you came from; and what you believed in, then one day what you thought, knew and believed is shattered. In the movie, The Infidel, that is what happened to Mahmoud, a Muslim who lived in the United Kingdom.  He was not necessarily a perfect Muslim but he was comfortable with himself.  He was a family man, married with a loving wife, son and daughter.  His mother passes away and as he is going through documents in her home, he discovers that he had actually been adopted.  A Muslim…adopted?  Mahmoud becomes curious and begins an investigation on who were his birth parents that leads him on a journey he had never envisioned.  His birth parents were Jewish.

As a result, Mahmoud is torn and has conflicting feelings and emotions. He begins to look into his life and probe himself.  In some ways he becomes more Islamic going from wearing Western clothes to the shalwar of his native Pakistan.  Yet, what about his Jewish side or rather the Jewish blood?  Who were his family?  Towards finding answers he starts to know a Jew in his neighborhood, a local taxi driver.  Where prior there had been enmity, a wary friendship starts to form.  Mahmoud begins to learn some of the traditions and expressions of the Jewish faith.  He keeps his discoveries secret from his family and his wife begins to suspect Mahmoud is having an affair or thinking of taking another wife.

The story is portrayed as a comedy yet it does illustrate the mass confusion and upheaval of emotions in a search for identity.  The language used in the film is atrocious and really not necessary nor adds to the story.  Overall I found the Infidel interesting from an analytical standpoint.  I think the producer did a fair job in tackling the sticky issues and perceptions of two faiths which have some similarities yet both sides tend to have strong resistance to the other.

While I am not personally aware of any such relationships, Muslim men are not prohibited from marrying Jewish women in Islam.  However there are so many political differences and social perceptions from both sides, it is difficult to envision a marriage between a Saudi and someone of the Jewish faith.  I should also add that it is also unusual to have adoptions in the Muslim world or at least within Saudi Arabia.  An orphan may be taken in to a home or cared for but it is rare for a formal adoption to take place.

The Infidel gave me a lot to think about.  It was a matter of birth and God’s hand that I happened to have born an American and in America.  I was raised Christian (Catholic).  I was not adopted and raised with a stronge sense of self-being and knowing who I am.  What kind of reaction do you honestly think you would have if you discovered, like Mahmoud, that your heritage from your birth parents was the complete opposite of the life you were living?  Would you try and learn more of your heritage that your birth parents had?  Would you simply keep that door closed just like a closed chapter?  Do you know of anyone who has experienced a similar situation?

Of course this post would not be complete without a clip from the movie itself:

11 Responses

  1. I think at some point in every persons life, especially as self absorbed teens…we insist we are NOT from this family and invision ourselves as probably adopted or stolen as a baby…just to explain why we feel we dont belong…or cause our family treat us badly etc. So I can relate to a certain extent about suddenly discovering your not who you think you are…having come from an abusive home…I dreamed I would discover that actually…just to find a reason for what was happening to me…

    Anyhow…the movies plot seems based on one thing…we are who we are cause of our parents raised us that way…to a certain extent. So you can take that one step further…children born to religious parents are “religious” or believe in that religion simply because that is what their parents have raised them to believe.

    Given another choice…or discovering they “came from different parents” might actually draw them in a different direction…or go looking for answers somewhere else.

    its all good far as Im concerned….as long as the end result is…your comfortable with who you are.

  2. I’ve just put it on my netflix queue…when it becomes available.

  3. One thing I have come to believe in recent years is that the most important sense of belonging one can have is the sense of belonging to oneself; that you love yourself for who you are. Also, that others are to be respected and loved for who they are. It is important to have a sense of belonging in a social situation as well, but this does not have to be based on a common culture or religion. It can simply be a shared sense of respect and love for each other. Although, sharing things in common, such as interests, religion, culture, etc. and/or being open to new experiences in one or more of these areas does seem to help.:)

    Sounds like an interesting film!

  4. I’m posting the following at the request of a reader who wishes to share but as one will understand when reading her comment, wants to remain anonymous:

    Dear Carol and American Bedu readers,

    Todays post hit very close to home today. I’m not adopted like Mahmoud, but our stories parallel each other. Both of my parents come from extremely traditional families. My mother comes from an aristocratic catholic Spanish family in the Philippines. Her family comes from a long line of Spanish founders dating all the way back to when the Spanish colonists arrived in the country, many of them are now working in various parts of the government and army over there. My father is also Spanish, but his family came from the Spanish Moorish group of traders that migrated there for business. My mother was expected either join a convent or marry a son from one of the founding Spanish families. My father wasn’t allowed to marry anyone outside of his province (he came from the South and my mother was from the central North). They both met at uni, fell in love and eloped. Their parents found out, they were given an ultimatum, leave your wife/husband or never come back. So they choose to migrate to Australia. My older sister was born and from the stories I hear from my uncle (he came with my mum when she left for Australia), life was great. They were happy even though they were cut off from their family – they could be free from their parents expectations.

    But things changed when I was born. My mother died whilst giving birth to me. My uncle says that my father was beside himself with grief. For over a month, I didn’t have a name, the person who checked me out of the hospital and gave me a name was my uncle. He and my aunty took care of me as if I was their own child. I’ve never felt that I wasn’t loved when I was a child because of them. From as long as I can remember my uncle would tell me about who I am and explain what happened before I was born. I don’t know much about what happened in my childhood with my father, all I know is that he reconciled with his family and remarried to a woman that they approved of – now my current mother. My stepmother treated me and my sister like we were her own children. In fact my sister is very close to her. I think my father blames me for my mothers death or maybe it’s just too painful for him to have me around, because I spent my childhood in the care of my uncle and his wife. They became my family. When my mother died, my uncle forced my grandparents to acknowledge me and my sister. When I was old enough, my grandparents sent me to a convent boarding school for girls. During the holidays sometimes I would spend time with my father and his family, there was always a family reunion for Christmas and New Years at my grandparents, all the other times I’d go home to my uncles house. So I guess the sisters at the boarding school that I went to, partially raised me.

    I’m thankful because I was blessed with an uncle who loves me, even though I was the reason for the death of his closest sister. For as long as I can remember he would tell me stories about my mother and how much I look like her, what she was like and he would tell me of the expectations that she lived through and what kind of things my grandparents would expect from me. Why they choose to enroll me at the school I was going to – because all the girls in our family gets enrolled in convent schools and finishing school for girls. That afterwards I’d be expected to study in a certain university outside of Australia and that my grandparents have practically mapped out what they think my life should be like. He would also talk about my father and what he was like before and why he is the way he is with me then. I don’t think he was excusing my father for abandoning me, he was just telling the story as it happened.

    I thought I knew who I was, but as I got older I started to question things. I wanted to fit in. At first I thought that if I was successful in my studies, my father would notice me. I didn’t really fit in with my cousins because my blood was ‘tainted’. I’m too Australian/independent to be one of them and I don’t have the pure Spanish founders blood running in my veins so I wasn’t good enough – I was inferior. But when I started to excel in my studies my grandparents started to notice me and accept me. So I decided to be the daughter that my mother wasn’t for them and make up for her mistakes. But I got older and I realised that hiding behind their religious practice was traditional social practice. It was the same with my fathers family – I was either the Catholic one or the reason why my father went back to the family.

    This is just a summary of the last thirty years of my life. It’s been a very long and hard journey to get to where I am now. Now I accept that I’m different. I’m proud to be an Australian and I’m proud to be different. Now I know that tradition or religion aren’t the sole ingredients that make up a persons identity. It’s a complex mix of ones environment whilst growing up in the early stages of life, ones own history and experiences that make you who you are. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t a mix of three things, sometimes I wish I was just like everyone else. At school I never fit in well with the other kids because I was different. It’s taken me a very long time to be grateful of who I am and my uncle, because honestly, if I didn’t have him to love and care for me. I think I’d be an extremely different person to who I am now. Sometimes when I’m caught off guard, it hurts to know that the only family I can count on is my uncle, my aunt and my cousin. These days I try to make up for the time I missed out on with my older sister and younger brother. I never got to grow up with them and have a proper relationship with them. It’s really slow going, but hopefully it’ll grow to something beautiful.

    After the experience I’ve had with trying to be part of my mothers family, I don’t think I have the capacity to go through any more emotional trauma like that again. It doesn’t mean that I won’t later in life, I’m not sure. Right now, I’m content with knowing who I am and knowing that other peoples perceptions of who I am don’t really matter at all that much, because it’s what I think I am that counts.


  5. What a moving story Anon shared with us; thank you very much for sharing. :^)

  6. Thank you for this very interesting article on the ‘infidel’. Allow me to add a couple of observations:
    first. Judaism is a religion as Christianity and Islam, of middle eastern origin. Originally it is a belief more than a being a race, and hence should be considered in that light. Marriage amongst all three religions has been going on in the middle east for centuries, since actually those of one country are mostly of the same culture, so there is no real difference or problem there.
    The prophet Mohammad had married a Jew and a christian, so to them there exist no animosity there.
    To go to a more political issue, the real animosity that may confuse an outsider is the view of the Zionist movement as a Jewish one, and not just a force of occupation as it is seen by the middle eastern. The conflict between the occupation and the native Palestinians has been portrayed by some as a conflict of religions instead of just a struggle for independence from Israeli occupation forces. During the Spanish inquisition, the Jews were welcomed and given sanctuary in the Ottoman (islamic) empire, and you will find many jewish families had lived prior to establishment of israel in all the arab countries and many had married from muslims there.

  7. i watched this movie a few months ago. i found it very funny and hillarious!

  8. The first ten minutes were slow in my view but I kept watching and other than the language, I really enjoyed the theme.

  9. This film reminded me of one of my children’s English teachers in school in the states. One of his parents were Christian and the other one was Jewish and he was a Muslim. They must have had very lively discussions about religion, don’t you think?

  10. makes you wonder if the student chose Islam due to differences of his parents religions!

  11. hi. i just saw this article under top posts. after seeing the infidel trailer here, i searched youtube and found the full version. it is about hour and a half. fascinating movie.

    it does get one teary eyed in some spots but then it has some funny parts too. a must watch movie! blessings ….

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,293 other followers

%d bloggers like this: