A Jihad for Love

A Jihad for Love

2008, NR, 81 min. Directed by Parvez Sharma.

REVIEWED By Marjorie Baumgarten, Fri., Aug. 8, 2008

Certainly, it will come as no surprise to viewers that homosexuality is forbidden in the Muslim religion. Sharma's documentary, which visits 12 countries and several dozen gay Muslim men and women, is a brave study of what it's like to live and love under such conditions. Tellingly, a great number of those interviewed are refugees from their countries of birth, having fled in order to live more freely elsewhere or to escape more literal imprisonment. The filmmaker and his subjects are to be commended for their honesty, yet there's an overwhelming sameness to their stories that impedes the film's dramatic value. Moreover, a great many of the faces are blurred to protect the speakers' identities, a tactic that further desaturates the film's personal impact. Still, stories of gay persecution like that of the Egyptian man who escaped to France after being in prison for three years, the Iranian who received 100 lashes, and the South African imam whose children say they would dutifully stone their father to death as instructed by their religious teachings, are unshakably sad. What's most striking about the individuals in this documentary is their struggle to reconcile their sexuality with their religious faith. From the outside, it might seem that the struggle for coexistence is a losing cause, and those who pine for it are stuck spinning their wheels in this personal jihad. In this regard, the film resembles Sandi DuBowski's Trembling Before G-d, a documentary that examines the conflicts between gays and the Orthodox and Hasidic Jewish communities. DuBowski is the producer of A Jihad for Love, and this strategy of questing for acceptance from the religion's fundamentalists by those who do not wish to stray from their faith is similar. Technically, Jihad's images and assemblage seem on par for a first-time filmmaker, though the film's message is a moving plaint.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Films
Tom and Jerry
Your favorite cat and mouse duo are back and in NYC

Richard Whittaker, March 5, 2021

Raya and the Last Dragon
Disney's new Southeast Asian fantasy is a landmark, but loses its way

Richard Whittaker, March 5, 2021

More by Marjorie Baumgarten
Nomadland
Story of America's itinerant population wanders too much

Feb. 19, 2021

The Reason I Jump
Poetic insight into autism, based on Naoki Higashida memoir

Jan. 8, 2021

KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

A Jihad for Love, Parvez Sharma

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle