November 13, 2011
by Arsalan Iftikhar
Exclusive | The Crescent Post
Contrary to what many Americans might believe, it should be noted that not all Muslims are Arabs (nor are all Arabs even Muslims). Even so, although only 18% of the global Muslim population are people of Arab descent; the cast of the new TLC show entitled “All-American Muslim” which premieres tonight (November 13 @ 10pm EST on TLC) are all Arab-American friends and families living within Dearborn, Michigan (the city that most American Muslims know has “the highest Arab population concentration outside of the Middle East”).
First of all, it does not take a brain surgeon to figure out that filming a bunch of Arab-Americans in Dearborn would be like casting a reality show about Chinese-Americans in San Francisco’s Chinatown or filming a movie about Greeks in Greektown in Chicago (think My Big Fat Greek Wedding). Nonetheless, after getting a sneak preview of the first episode of ‘All-American Muslim’ before the rest of the general public, I do have to admit that this show will do more good than harm in trying to humanize the everyday struggles of American Muslims from different walks of life.
The first episode of ‘All-American Muslim’ is called “How to Marry a Muslim” and revolves around the wedding preparations of Ms. Shadia Amen (a single mom of Lebanese descent who is a self-proclaimed tattoo ‘rebel’) and her fiance, Mr. Jeff McDermott (a nice Irish Catholic dude from the southside of Chicago).
Much of this first episode revolves around Jeff’s desire (and process) to convert to Islam in order to marry Shadia (which is made quite clear by her father throughout the episode). Throughout the rest of the episode, they cut-away to different friends and storylines that will be highlighted this season, including:
- Nader and Nawal Aoude- A young 20-something couple who are expecting their first child and this season will show the ups-and-downs of her late-stage pregnancy as she prepares to give birth;
- Nina Bazzy- A blond fashionista (think ‘Real Housewives’ type) who currently works as an ‘event planner’ but wants to open a nightclub in Dearborn and finds challenges as an Arab woman in this industry within the community;
- Fordson High School football coach Fouad Zaban- One of the main subjects of the new documentary called ‘Fordson’ which chronicles the season of a Dearborn high school football team that is 95% Muslim (and that has to learn how to play competitively while fasting during the month of Ramadan);
- Mike Jaafar- A father of four who works as a police officer with the Wayne County Sheriff’s Department and who has had to deal with post-9/11 challenges as an American Muslim officer of the law.
Although this new TLC series is far too Arab-centric and a wee bit culturally sophmoric in its focus on Dearborn, Michigan (meaning that you see no diversity within the American Muslim community across the country), this reality show will probably advance our national conversation on Islam and Muslims since this is the first network television show to ever focus a television on our community; one that does not revolve around terrorism.