"As-Salaamu Alaikum and Peace Be Unto You, Hamza, your family and the readers. As a revert to Al-Islam for more than 30 years, having accepted the faith in its entirety when in my early twenties -- I know from my own personal experiences and from those of sisters and brothers I have come to know over the years that true belief will change your life! What ever your "faith"-- live it with all of your heart and you will find that "peace,""patience," "perseverance," and "prayer" are the everyday practice of "faithful" people -- not casting fault, slurs and negative comparisons. Hamza and his entire family are admirable, honorable people whose images are inspiring and honest to the experiences that many of us coming to Islam recall. Not disparities within our families whatever faith one is inclined to: we come to understand that righteous living is what Allah (God) wants for us and that it is fully possible. I truly enjoyed this film and I hope every openminded, hopeful person, especially young persons who have/are living the lifestyle that Hamza left behind (as have many of us) recognize the inherent good within and strive to please his or her Lord first and foremost-- a life of good deeds and strong faith is what awaits you-- not fear, extremism or disappointment!"
"This film gives its audience wonderful insight into the American Muslim and converted Muslim experience! I had very little knowledge about the rich cultures developing among American Muslim communities. As an Egyptian-American Muslim college student, I could so easily relate to their struggles and Jason's search for his ideal self. Jason's collaboration with his Jewish neighbor and his discussion-leading in jail, open to people of all faiths and backgrounds, was so inspiring. The film captured so much of the true peaceful Muslim essence. Thank you so much, Jennifer Taylor, PBS and POV, for your continued wonderful projects."
"I have to say that watching this movie today was a privilege. New Muslim Cool, the story of Hamza, and other stories like his need to be shared today more than ever. I am Catholic and deeply concerned for issues of justice and equality. The work between Jewish and Muslim artists was inspiring and gives me hope to a future United States and world that is more compassionate and aware of the suffering of others. To some of the negative comments that have been made, you are nothing more than yet another example of hate or apathy within this country. All people are on a spiritual journey (regardless of what they would call it themselves), and each person can choose to live their lives guided by love or hatred. To see other religious people, (even worse my fellow Christians or Catholics) react to Hamza's narrative with anger is disappointing. It seems that Hamza lives his life more by our Bible that some Christians. Matthew 25:36 "I was in prison and you came to me" He is dedicating his life to the least of our brothers and sisters. This is something that Christians and Catholics seem to so conveniently forget about our faith. Again, this was a great movie. I enjoyed his story and his journey. I look forward to more documentaries of strong religious people looking to improve their communities and work for justice."
"I am a Catholic Christian, and I loved this film. Now that is out of the way. I thought the film brought a lot to light. That regardless of religion, we should all be brothers and sisters and work more on ourselves, then trying to change other people, and their ways. If we all tried everyday to better ourselves, and stopped complaining about what we deserve and what we don't have and what other people do, then the world and the people in it would take care of itself with God as our witness. I thought Hamza'a music was inspirational, and everyone should feel that way about something. I play softball for instance. And for anyone who believes this film was only about Hamza and the Muslim faith, you are misguided. This film is about acceptance of all cultures, races, nationalities, and religions. I do not know much of anything about the Muslim Faith and their regard for woman being under men, so I will not comment on that, but lets hope that's not in there anywhere. As for the film, bravo! Thank you for sharing alternate opinions and journeys. For me, the real truth of this story is better than anything TV writers/producers can make up. Real life truly is inspirational."
Wali S writes:
"I just finished watching this film with my 10 year daughter and we appreciated the "openness" and "realness" of Hamza's story. More importantly, I've noticed how Hamza matured over the course of this film and I pray the catalyst behind his maturity wasn't lost on the viewing public. Yes, the Message of Islam can get you there, but Hamza's success started with him making a concerted effort to be and get better. Of all the "gems" presented in this film, I believe this film highlighted a few diamonds in our rough society:
- For the muslims in and outside of this country: '(paraphrasing) if reading the Quran and studying the life of The Prophet doesn't soften your heart towards humanity, then you are not reading the Quran' -- Our Beloved Prophet (PBUH) was more than a "Holy Man" He established and developed treaties and alliances to further the well being of the early Muslims as well as their neighbors.
- For everyone else: Islam in America is ingrained in the social fabric of this country. My generation seek nothing more than a place to pray, a place to eat/sleep and to provide the best we can for our families...alienation at home facilities passionate discontent for the new 'American Way'
- At the core of it all, there's one fundamental truth we are all One People seeking the pleasure and guidance of our Creator.
I am a born again Christian. Therefore I can not see eye to eye with Hamza or I would be a hypocrite and a bad Christian. I do however commend his courage and the way he handled his situations. I identify with him going through my own "jihad". I identified with him when he said he thought he would die at 21 and became a Muslim at 21. I always thought I would die at 45 and was baptized instead!
Funny you would think the two of us would have nothing in common, and then when you really listen, you see how much we, as humans, actually do have more in common with each other than we have differences!
I loved hearing an x-gang drug person say, "I want to go back to the prison!" Now that he is on the right side of the prison bars! God does work in mysterious, miraculous ways! Hamza has come so far and sounds like he is doing many things right and positive for himself, his family and his community. I live in Pittsburgh and I hope some day to meet him in person. I am very proud of him, (after the raid) the way he handled things! I know his mom is proud of him too, you can see it in her face. Maybe she doesn't understand all of what he is about, but she is proud, you can tell!
I am old school and do not like hip-hop music but I really liked the song snippets I heard! The words soundede great and even the beat was great. I am curious to hear more. I was very blessed to be flipping through the TV stations and happen upon this documentary. It made me think of so many things. Thank you Hamza for sharing your story and God bless you on your journey!
The film itself was done very well and I found I could not turn the documentary off! Kudos also to you Jennifer and crew!
To read more reviews and reactions, visit the New Muslim Cool overview page.