Monday, August 01, 2011

"Koran by Heart": a "spectacular" documentary look at a contest regarding learning the Koran

The HBO Documentary “Koran by Heart,” by Greg Barker, gives an intimate look into the world of Islam.

Boys from Tajikistan and Senegal, and a girl from Maldives all enter a contest in Cairo on reciting the Koran, which is actually sung in a strict cadence which would be of interest to voice musicians.

The students memorize all 600 pages and 100+ chapters without necessarily understanding the text. They don’t always even speak Arabic as their home tongue. (See Book Review blog, March 10, 2010.)   After 9/11, the role of local madrasahs, where boys memorize the Koran, had been portrayed in a very negative light by the media. This film might turn that around. 

In Maldives, an iman says that "a man is a single person, a woman is a man's future" and says his daughter will not work and will take care of the home. I understand that "intellectually" but cannot relate to it emotionally.

Another iman talks about the strict rules of the Koran (which seem to guarantee that everybody "pays his dues"), but says that the Koran forbids violence and terrorism. 

The film has spectacular shots of Cairo, Maldives, and Tajikistan and looks particularly sharp in HiDef, like BluRay.

Here is HBO’s official site


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