Monday,18 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1192, (10 - 16 April 2014)
Monday,18 December, 2017
Issue 1192, (10 - 16 April 2014)

Ahram Weekly

Noah fights another flood

Could it be that only a giant flood can wash out the decadence and depravity that has pervaded our earth?

It sounds like a formidable idea, but it is only happening on film screens around the world.  Hollywood’s latest chock-full extravaganza retells the story of Noah in modern terms, using state- of- the- arts technology and supreme CGI (Computer Generated Images), that leaves you stunned and stupefied.

Critics are blown away by this magnificent piece of work. They promise: “You have never seen anything like it”, but at present, many viewers of the Muslim and Christian faiths are prohibited from seeing it.

Long before the film hit the theatres, hundreds of Christian groups including the Vatican, the Anglican Church, have boycotted the film, because it is not true to the religious text and that the creative license has been pushed too far by director Darren Aronofsky.

Voices from the Muslim world have arisen in protest, resulting in a direct ban of the movie in several Muslim countries, such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar, citing the prohibition of the depiction of the holy prophets.  Cairo’s Al-Azhar, historic centre of Islam, issued a “fatwa”, an Islamic persuasion, in early March, urging Muslims not to see the film.  Indonesia, (215 million Muslims), banned ‘Noah’ last week, a move which angered director Aronofsky. “People judging the film before seeing it was bordering on stupidity”, cried Aronofsky.  “Those who have seen it have seen how respectful and how potent it is.”

The zealous are unable to differentiate between an artistic creation and its historical or religious source. The controversy has only helped drive ‘Noah’ to the top of the charts amassing more than the film’s cost of $120 million, worldwide.  Such was the case with Dan Brown’s book, “The Da Vinci Code”.  When will they ever learn that prohibition renders an object even more desirable! Blacklisting a film, such as Mel Gibson’s “The Passions of the Christ”, increases its appeal and makes it available illegally.

While there is nothing in the Holy Qoran that forbids the representation of the Holy Prophet Mohamed, early Muslim scholars based their theory on the ‘Hadith’, (a collection of sayings and actions attributed to the Holy Prophet). Their reasoning is that could lead to object worship, a form of idolatry.

Undaunted by the negative campaign, Aronofsky refused to cut any parts out, and the film has already been dubbed in Urdu and Turkish, besides English, therefore it is certain that it shall be seen by Muslims and Christians alike.  Overreaching is the ambition of all creative minds, and Aronofsky has not only weathered a sea of controversy, but has exhibited a mastery of his craft, and produced a story that all can relate to.

Muslim countries have previously produced works depicting holy prophets such as Omar Ibn Al- Khattab,  Abu Bakr Al-Saddiq and Al-Hassan and Al-Hussein, the Holy Prophet’s grandsons and sons of his cousin and son-in-law, Ali Ibn Abu Taleb. These works received support from several intellectuals and critics.  The late Syrian filmmaker, Mustafa Al-Akkad, an observant Muslim avoided showing the Holy Prophet’s face in his celebrated 1976 film “The Messenger”.  There is ample room and verge enough for creative interpretation of holy stories, so long as a strong sense of delicacy and taste prevails.

The story of Noah is one of the most dramatic, most compelling, in the Holy Books.  No doubt it must be treated with dignity, propriety and splendour. It would be a gross error in judgement to do otherwise.  Depicting the past in our times however, cannot be restricted to simple story-telling. Though true to the core of the story, Aronofsky utilised every means of modern technology to help the viewer visualise the immensity and grandeur of God’s might.

In order to save a society plunged in depravity and sin, a wrathful God decides to wipe the evil out by flooding the earth for 40 days and 40 nights. He charges Noah to build an ark of cypress wood and there to take his wife, his 3 sons, their wives and a pair of every kind of animal on earth. Noah was 500 years old when he started following God’s instructions.  When the floodgates of the heavens opened, Noah, now 600 years old, entered the ark to escape destruction. When the earth had dried, he returned to land and lived for another 350 years.

The laws of God forbid man to violate humanity: “Whoever sheds human blood by humans shall their blood be shed, for in the image of God has God made mankind”. But these words of the Holy Book of Islam have been ignored by so-called Muslims, who continue to violate humanity and disobey God’s holy laws. Do we need another flood to wipe out this Satanic evil and wickedness from amongst us?

Ghosts of the fallen victims fill us with shame and sorrow. How do we expel all darkness from our minds?  How can we not be perturbed about the present, in doubt about our future, when such wickedness lingers among us!

From this deadly gloom should we wish for Noah’s ark, or Noah’s floodwaters?

Reverting to our Holy Books we find rapture and redemption, which caution our minds and save our souls from God’s wrath, and may be even from the disastrous floods from which Noah himself was saved! 

Historic continuity with the past is not a duty, it is only a necessity.”

               Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr (1809-1894)

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