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May 8, 2010

Movie Director

Canon EOS 7D | Canon 35mm f/1.4 | Available Light
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Highland Park is a city within the city  limits of Detroit proper. In addition to  being home to Henry Ford's first assembly  plant (now defunct and abandoned), it is also  home to a sizable, mostly African-American,  Sunni Muslim community.

I was inducted into that community when my  family converted to Sunni Islam when I was around 8-years-old.

Qasim was associated with the community in Highland Park. He is also the director of Mooz-Lem: The Movie - a locally-filmed movie that is still in development . It features Danny Glover, Nia Long and quite a few other impressively notable Hollywood cast members.

Its good to see a member of my old Ummah doing his thing. Neither of us could remember if we knew each other  growing up.  We do both know a young man  named Kareem.  I happened to bump into Kareem and Qasim a couple of weeks back and they were gracious enough to let me make a couple of frames of them (Kareem, you're next).

That said, I'm no longer a member of the Highland Park Islamic community. In fact, I've removed myself from the larger  intellectual community of religious believers  altogether.

I've always had a distrinct aversion to  fanticiful thinking - no matter how  reassuring and comforting.  When I was in 1st  grade, before my family converted to islam, a  classmate opened a bag of chips, crushed them  in his hand, turned toward me, started to  wiggle his backside and sing an impromptu  schoolyard nursery rhyme/taunt:

"I've got more! I've got more!..."

I remember calmly looking at him, shaking my  head and saying,

"No you don't. They are just in smaller  peices..."

He broke into tears and  tried to fight me.

Sorry, kiddo. But the facts are facts.

Though I was devout through  my high school years (at Highland Park High  School, I'd stop in the middle of Mr. Wojinowski's Chem class  to make the afternoon iteration of the 5  daily prayers required of Muslims),  the religious explanations for how reality worked became exponentially less convincing with each passing year; and with each passing grade in biology, geology, and  history.

The religious explanation simply did not accord  with the facts. As much comfort, solace, and  certitude my religious faith had provided me in  trying circumstances, I found myself  increasing unable to abide them.

Sorry, kiddo. But the facts are the facts.

By my second year of college I was more or less bereft of all superstitious belief.

I'm not sure what the tone of Qasim's  finished movie will be. It's my understanding  that the main character has a crisis of faith.

If nothing else, I hope that his movie will encourage people to take another look at their bag of potato chips.

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