Designed to introduce children to the origins and core beliefs of Islam through the life of its founder, Muhammad, this simplistic animated feature falls firmly within the long tradition of bland, upbeat and earnest religious instructional films. Disney-trained director Richard Rich's company, RichCrest, has specialized since the mid 1990s in shabby-looking, direct-to-video animated films. The film opens with a framing story: Malek (Brian Nissen) and his family are en route to the market in Mecca when they come across a poor and friendless man in the street. Malek's small daughter is excited about their excursion and wonders why her parents abandon it to help a stranger, so Malek tells her the story of his conversion to Islam. When he was a younger man, Mecca was crowded with false idols and rapacious merchants who amassed great fortunes fleecing religious pilgrims. Drunkenness, slave trading, gambling, usury and all-round immorality flourish. Representatives of Mecca's ruling Quarysh tribe protect the interests of the wealthy, who abuse and exploit the poor. Only the strong moral stance of Abu Talib (Eli Allem) helps offset the Quarysh's brutally self-serving attitudes. Abu Talib has a grown nephew named Muhammad, whom he raised after the death of the child's father. Muhammad, a contemplative man, prays regularly in the caves outside Mecca, where the angel Gabriel appears to him (the film steers clear of dates, but history places this event circa 610 AD) and commands him to spread the word of "the one God of Abraham, Moses and Jesus." Muhammad preaches to the poor and disenfranchised, first in private, then in public. His teachings that all men are equal in the sight of the one true God, Allah; women should be respected; people must treat each other fairly and care for those in need alarm the ruling elite, and Muhammad's followers Muslims are persecuted, martyred and dispossessed. Muhammad himself moves to Medina then Yathrib after a Quarysh-backed attempt on his life. Clinging to their faith and enduring great privation, the Muslim converts eventually prevail and return to Mecca in triumph. In keeping with Muslim tradition, Muhammad is neither seen nor heard; sequences that require his presence are presented from his point of view and a narrator reads his words.
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- Released: 2004
- Rating: NR
- Review: Designed to introduce children to the origins and core beliefs of Islam through the life of its founder, Muhammad, this simplistic animated feature falls firmly within the long tradition of bland, upbeat and earnest religious instructional films. Disney-tr… (more)