Friday, January 4, 2008

Hours to go....

With just hours to go and we are at the point of no return, I thought I would reflect a bit on the journey of how we got here.

Virtually everyone I spoke to about this film at the idea stage said it was a great idea and it needed to be done. But they were skeptical. They were skeptical that Western broadcasters were more interested in showing documentaries that show violence and terrorism in the Muslim world. And they were skeptical that the Secretariat of the Aga Khan would never participate as they are not known for being open and engaging. There is a reason this is the first documentary of its kind and it is NOT because this is a novel ideal.

We were caught between a rock and a hard place with no funding and no access. What I saw next in the journey was amazing and moving. One that I will never forget. People put aside their skepticism and they did what they believed was right, often guided by the ethics of their faith. They replaced fear with hope, negativity with optimism. They believed.

They believed in standing up. Standing strong. And standing united. Together, they believed, we can overcome barriers and challenges. For the so many of you around the world - I thank you. We did this together. Islam is not a monolith but a mosaic and this is a side of Islam that needed to be told. In the history of Islam, there has been many silenced voices - we did not want to be one of them.

Making documentaries is not about getting everyone to agree with everything you say in the documentary or leaving everyone feeling happy. That is the job of a corporate video. A film is about informing, sparking thought and encouraging discussion. It is based on the premise of dialogue - a fundamental ethic in my faith of Islam, and many other religions. Through dialogue and discussion, goes the belief, we can spotlight the important issues of our time, rise to the challenge, and hopefully move people into action rather than passivity.

Look at Nobel prize winner Al Gore and his An Inconvenient Truth - a documentary about the environment crisis we face today. Many people love the film but not everyone. Yet this film has provoked thought, discussion and dialogue. This film is one of the main catalysts for the enlightening of people's and government's consciousness as to the dire state and the looming crisis facing our generation and generations to come.

I leave off with words that really hit home last night when I watched the victory speech by US Presidential-hopeful Barack Obama:

"We always knew that hope is not blind optimism. It's not ignoring the enormity of the tasks ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path.

"It's not sitting on the sidelines or shirking from a fight. Hope is that thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us if we have the courage to reach for it and to work for it and to fight for it."

Full speech:

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