IHRAM.CO.ID, ISLAMABAD — Renowned British-Pakistani filmmaker Abrar Hussain offers a rare glimpse at Islam’s holiest sites through a documentary. He produced documentaries about the Grand Mosque and Al-Aqsa Mosque, which aimed to counter anti-Islam narratives.
As reported Arabic NewsHussain said his films aim to counter anti-Islam narratives by offering rare glimpses into the religion’s cultural heritage.
Born in Islamabad, Hussain moved with his family to London in the late 1970s less than a year after his birth. Prior to becoming a documentary filmmaker, he worked as a serial producer on the Islam Channel, and directed and produced the popular TV shows “Model Mosque” in 2007 and “Faith Off” in 2008.
In 2017, Hussain then released his most famous work, “One Day in the Haram.” The film offers a glimpse inside the Grand Mosque in Makkah, showing how the world’s largest mosque is managed and what daily routines are like inside.
“After 9/11, there was a lot of media backlash against Muslims, especially in the UK and in Western countries, and I know this is not a true depiction of Islam,” Hussain told Arab News in an interview.
In one photo, Hussain is seen taking an aerial shot of the Grand Mosque, Saudi Arabia, in October 2017. He uses his skills to explain the real Islam.
“I really feel that I need to use my creative skills to do something to combat this. So, I started doing Islamic productions and I was very successful,” he said.
Hussain’s new film, “One Night in Al-Aqsa,” premieres in London in early February 2022. The film this time shows Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque during Lailatul Qadar, a festival that commemorates the night when the first verses of the Koran were revealed to the Prophet Muhammad.
“Our film is about promoting a better and more tolerant understanding of Islam,” said Hussain.
In a review, the Guardian newspaper wrote that the film “weaves stunning aerial footage of Al-Aqsa with intimate photos of the faithful”.
“This documentary is a precious window that Palestinians have to go through just to celebrate their faith,” Hussain explained.
This documentary was made on a budget of 200 thousand Pounds Sterling or around Rp. 3.8 billion in about 18 months. In making this film, Hussain also got an extraordinary experience.
“An extraordinary and phenomenal experience to preserve Islamic cultural and historical heritage,” he said.
“This is one of the most important places (in Islam) and a sense of pride for Muslims,” he said, adding that the aim of the film was to encourage people to come to Al-Aqsa to worship and stand in solidarity with Muslims, especially the Palestinians.
Funds raised from the film have been donated to Penny Appeal Palestine, an international humanitarian charity, which also contributed to its production.
“Through this fund, they will support other projects like this one, and provide health care, food and other essential aid to the Palestinian people, mostly in Gaza,” Hussain said.
He added that his documentary has been watched by millions in theaters, on airline entertainment systems and on video on demand platforms. “One Day in Haram remained on Amazon Prime for two years and has now transferred to another platform in the US, called USHUB, which streams films in more than 200 countries around the world,” explains Hussain.
Film One Night at Al-Aqsa has been screened in 12 countries, with great success in the UK, US, Canada, South Africa and Australia. It was also featured in Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Turkey.
“Muslim audiences appreciate that someone went through all the trouble to make this film,” said Hussain.
For the next project, the filmmaker will return to Saudi Arabia. “Another big project that we are currently working on is A day in Medina,” he said, adding that the project would feature the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina, Islam’s second holiest city.
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