30-Day Muslim

This is remarkable television: Morgan Spurlock's TV series 30 Days invited Dave Stacey, a 33-year old insurance salesman from West Virginia, to "be" a Muslim for thirty days. A devout Christian, Stacey moves to Deerborne, Michigan, to live with the Haques', an American Muslim family of Pakistani descent. Ground rules: he must observe the religious practices of the family--eat what they eat, pray when they pray (five times a day, starting at 5:30 a.m.), and grow a beard.

It's a remarkable journey the very game Stacey goes on. He's open, yet firmly Christian, and while he joins in for prayer, he resists reciting the Arabic prayers because he doesn't know what they mean (when consulting with an imam, he's told about his reservations, "You're here to learn, not to believe."). When he learns what they mean, he still hesitates, not wanting to betray his own faith and heritage. He--and I watching along--learned so much about Islam, its relationship to Christianity and Judaism (the hijab is part of the Jewish faith, Mrs. Haque tells him), and the five pillars of the faith (belief in one god, prayer, charity, fasting, pilgrimage).

Learning Arabic, studying the Quran, even touring a Halal meat processing plant, he learns about Islam. He sees discrimination and suspicion. By the end, Stacey isn't converted to Islam, but he is, perhaps, to humanism. His hosts give him a send-off party, complete with a decorated cake bearing the phrase, "Let's agree to disagree." Still, as "reality" TV, it only goes so far. As a CAIR lawyer tells him:
"Over thirty days, you can get a little bit of flavor. But you know at the end of the day, after 30 days, you know you can home to your wife and kid, shave off your beard and go back to being a white, Anglo-American Christian. I don't have that luxury. I know inside they hate me for who I am."
Another excellent find by Peek.

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