Marriage compulsion, violence and terrorism, hatred and war, religious fundamentalism, liberalism, misinterpretation of holy evidence and crises surrounding the post-September 11 era: combine them all and you get “Khuda Ke Liye.” From violence, detestation, coercion, extremism and liberalism to misconceptions, this movie has everything to put forward in terms of dilemmas that have been facing the South-East Asian culture as well as Pakistani Muslims residing in the West for over a decade.
Here we are presented with an irreligious, hypocritical father - X - residing in England who went through an awful divorce and is now cohabiting with a British woman. We are also introduced to his Westernized, British daughter named Mary, who is dating a British boy – Dave, much to her father’s dissatisfaction. Infuriated by this relationship and fearing his reputation in the British Pakistani community, X lies to Mary about permitting her to marry Dave and takes her to Pakistan. Mary is unaware that the trip is an ambush to marry her off to her religious cousin – Sarmad – in the tribal area of Waziristan on Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Mary is abducted, forced to comply with religious teachings and sexually molested.
The movie also displays an issue of religious fundamentalism at the hands of the fanatical Maulana Tahiri – according to whom everything pleasurable is forbidden. He misleads the masses about being too liberal in terms of clothes, listening to music and not keeping a beard and advises them to protect themselves from such sins to score points in heaven. At the same time, he is scheduling for a religious war – jihad – and spreading hatred and terror. He gradually manipulates a singer – Sarmad – into abandoning music for good, preserving the religious dressing and growing a beard. The fundamentalist penetrates into Sarmad’s mindset, which rapidly starts falling under the religious activist’s strong influence.
On the one hand, we have religious extremism and on the other, the complete opposite. Liberalist frame of mind is demonstrated through X who is completely unaware of Islamic teachings and has been living with a woman for several years. We also have Mansoor – a singer – who travels to America to earn a degree in music and instantly falls in love with an American female. Mary is also an example of a liberal British Muslim – which is reflected in her mannerisms, dressing and relationship with Dave.
The movie also touches upon the issues surrounding the post-9/11 era and the strong sentiments that evoked amongst Americans. The abrupt attacks on the World Trade Centre take place and Muslims experience a viciously prejudiced backlash in terms of abduction and atrocious persecution. It illustrates the racist paranoia that is so deeply rooted in the American society which has caused the westerners to regard Muslims with suspicion. It also demonstrates the merciless torture that Muslims, Pakistanis particularly, had to endure at the cruel hands of the American authorities.
In the movie, Mansoor is arrested on account of being involved in the 9/11 attacks. He is thrown into a stinky cell, fed pork, harassed and tortured. Mansoor is an exemplar for those scores of Pakistani Muslims who unnecessarily underwent excruciatingly painful torment and agony in America. It highlights how the lives of Muslims changed forever. The lives of those who suffered anguish in the horrendous cells of America could never be the same again. A lot of irreparable damage was caused physically, mentally and emotionally to those who were imprisoned.
“Khuda Ke Liye” is one of the most successful Pakistani films of all time, grossing over US10 million dollars worldwide, and why should it not be? Shoaib Mansoor has displayed his aptitude at his level best and put forward a thought-provoking movie. It offers a valuable message to the Westerners in terms of their paranoid perceptions of Muslims. Religious fundamentalists have a lot to learn as well so that they can alter their erroneous interpretations of Islamic teachings and spread religion in a proper light.