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Top 6 Documentaries To Watch That Were Directed By Muslims

The pursuit of knowledge is a duty upon us all – so here are just some of the most important documentaries to watch, all directed by Muslims!

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The pursuit of knowledge is a duty upon us all – so here are just some of the most important documentaries to watch, all directed by Muslims!

Documentary filmmaking remains one of the most striking ways to fuse entertainment with knowledge – the visuals, incredible footage, and groundbreaking investigations open up another world for us to discover. In a world where quick news and flashy headlines seem to dominate, documentaries are increasingly important to tackle issues in a deeper, more profound way.

So here are just six of some of the most incredible documentaries to keep you engaged in the pursuit of knowledge – with the bonus that they were all directed by Muslims.

1. For Sama, co-directed by Waad Al-Kateab

An incredibly powerful and deeply moving documentary, For Sama was nominated for an Oscar and won the 2020 BAFTA award for Best Documentary alongside numerous other nominations and awards. Following the life and journey of Waad Al-Kateab and her daughter Sama alongside her husband, this documentary follows their lives for five years during some of the most horrifying atrocities of the Syrian civil war. Gut-wrenching, this documentary will be impossible to forget amidst the tragedies that continue to this day in Syria’s war.

2. White Right: Meeting the Enemy, directed by Deeyah Khan

Directed by Deeyah Khan, a Norweigan of Pakistani and Afghan descent, this documentary is arguably one of the most important in our world today. Tackling white supremacy, neo-Nazism, neo-fascism, and deeply embedded racism, this documentary is shocking to say the least. Khan fearlessly throws herself into situations and conversations that have the viewer fearing for her life, but with a deeply troubling and important message: we cannot ignore the rise of far-right extremism.

3. Lost Warrior, co-directed by Nasib Farah

Directed by Nasib Farah, a Somali filmmaker whose incredibly powerful work touches on everything from radicalization to Somali youth in Europe, this documentary is one of his finest. Following the struggle of a former Al-Shabaab member, this documentary takes a heartbreaking look at the life of a UK citizen stuck in Somalia – with his past stopping him from returning to the UK and his former membership stopping him from having any sort of safety while in Somalia. This documentary will have you rethinking radicalization, the “war on terror”, and what it means to be human in an age of extremism.

4. Saving Face, directed by Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

A 2012 documentary but just as relevant today, this remains one of Obaid-Chinoy’s most celebrated documentaries, winning her an Emmy Award and the 2012 Academy Award for Best Documentary Short Subject – making her also the first Pakistani to win an Oscar. Documenting the struggle of two acid-attack victims in Pakistan seeking justice, the film was inspired from the life of acid victim Fakhra Younus, who committed suicide in 2012. Both incredibly moving and powerfully frustrating, this documentary remains one of the most important works around acid-attack justice in Pakistan.

5. One Day in the Haram, directed by Abrar Hussain

Groundbreaking as the first documentary in history to have full access to the inner workings of the Haram, inside the holy city of Mecca, this documentary is told through the accounts and stories of the workers over a one-day period. Structured through the daily five prayers, this documentary is a visual celebration of the beauty of Islam’s holy site of pilgrimage – and remains one of the most important and beautiful documentaries on the untold stories of those who work in the Haram.

6. Azmaish: A Journey Through the Subcontinent, directed by Sabiha Sumar

Directed by the celebrated Pakistani filmmaker Sabiha Sumar, this is one of her lesser-known documentaries, but just as important none-the-less. A journey through the subcontinent of India and Pakistan, Sabiha appears in this documentary alongside Indian actress Kalki Koechlin to explore and celebrate the differences and similarities that make up a region deeply embedded in history. A mixture of travel, social, and historical documentation, this documentary is perfect for understanding this complex region from the perspective of two women from seemingly opposite ends.