Created by independent Canadian filmmaker, Maaz Khan, Two and a Half Muslims, puts a spiritual twist on a comedic classic. This educational, comedy drama series makes you laugh, challenges preconceptions of Islam in the west, and reminds us all how to be Muslim!
by Sarah Khurshid
Two and a Half Muslims is the Muslim answer to the hit American sitcom Two and a Half Men (minus the scandal!). The six-episode series revolves around Daniel, a revert living with the comfort of his two humble, good-natured and proud Muslim buddies: clumsy Karim and intelligent Ibrahim. The series follows Daniel as he learns to be a practising Muslim whilst confronting his inherent negative bias toward Islam.
The director, producer and writer of Two and a Half Muslims, Maaz Khan, had the creative freedom to dissect Islamic values and behaviours in each episode. For example, the first episode follows Daniel as he ponders over how many wives he can have as a Muslim, circumcision and the nature of Jihad. Karim and Ibrahim act as teachers in each episode and are prepared to educate Daniel on what it takes to be a practising Muslim. The other five episodes revolve around Daniel challenging his preconceived beliefs about Ramadan, the five daily prayers, modesty, Islam as an identity and terrorism.
It is hilarious to watch Daniel as he innocently finds modest outfits to wear, picks his new Muslim name and jugs a bottle of water before the Fajr prayer during Ramadan (been there, done that!). Karim and Ibrahim’s Islamic wisdom educates Daniel – and the audience – about Islam. This narrative approach is advantageous because it highlights the significance of trustworthy leaders and safe communities to guide and influence Muslims to practice Islam authentically and ethically, especially in the west.
On average, each episode of this ambitious series runs from four to seven minutes. The bite-sized episodes and comedic premise allow the series to be easily digestible to a varied audience. Karim, Ibrahim and Daniel are simple, disciplined and kind hearted whilst maintaining their individualism. The show emphasises playfulness, open-mindedness and kindness whilst promoting religious devotion. It is perfect for a younger audience, as it raises awareness of the importance of inclusion and equality for Muslims born into the faith and reverts.
Furthermore, the show illustrates sometimes overlooked aspects of the Muslim revert experience. Episode Four, for example, hilariously highlights modesty for men. The modesty requirements for men are undervalued, and Khan’s creative decision to focus on this critical aspect of Islam is welcome. Two and a Half Muslims reinvigorates the importance of understanding Islam wholly and is a fantastic show to reaffirm the justifiable reasons for various Islamic behaviours and values.
Two and a Half Muslims began life as an independent web series and Khan’s ability to produce informed Islamic content brings to light the challenges and benefits of independent filmmaking. On the one hand, independent filmmakers rarely have the advantage of a hefty studio budget or the technical support offered by a production company. This makes it hard to get that professional slickness that commercially led series always have. On the other hand, independent filmmakers have the freedom to pursue passion projects and work with people they trust. This not only means that quirky and unique shows like this get made at all, but that they are produced unashamedly and lovingly with specific goals, audience and community in mind. Moreover, independent filmmakers don’t have the intense pressure to recover revenue for the company that produces and distributes the film, or to tweak the message to be more commercial. That said, generous or any support is always welcome!
Two and a Half Muslims is a binge-worthy delight, with plenty of relatable jokes and well-intentioned morals. The show is a fun-sized burst of laughter for young people and a spiritual reminder for us all. It was a massive achievement for Maaz Khan and the team and we are delighted to hear that they are now working on Season Two, factoring in all they learned from the process of creating Season One. We are really looking forward to it!