By Jeff Walsh
As it starts, "A Jihad For Love" has a familiar feeling for anyone who's ever seen movies about issues of sexuality and spirituality. We learn that the only reference to homosexuality in the Qur'an is about Sodom and Gomorrah. And that, though not part of the Qur'an, several Hadith (sayings attributed directly to Muhammad) directly condemn homosexuality. So, we're in familiar ground here, in a debate that continues about how to rectify sexuality and spirituality.
From the beginning, if you interchanged the words Qur'an and Bible, it would seem to make a lot of the same arguments with which many Americans are familiar. But as the film plays on, the familiarity washes away. People are imprisoned. Their backs bearing the marks of 100 bloody lashes. They leave their home and wait as refugees seeking asylum from a country they love, families they miss, and a religion that is still an important and meaningful part of their lives.
Muslim filmmaker Parvez Sharma isn't out to poke holes in Islam, or quote scripture back and forth with scholars (in fact, every scholar in the movie without fail just says homosexuality is wrong). But he is clearly interested in showing the depth of purpose that many gay Muslims feel, and the disconnect that causes with their culture. Sharma is also showing many sides of Islam, but none resembling the Al Qaeda caricature we usually see.