20 April 2019 / 13. Shabaan 1440

Posted by webmaster on March 23, 2017

It was indeed a literary delight to watch the much acclaimed ‘Why Can’t I be SuShi’ produced by Spoken Iris Films which is headed up by British Iraqi documentary film maker, Hoda Elsoudani. The movie aired to a packed audience screened at The Safari Cinema in Harrow, Middlesex on Sunday 19th March. The event was hosted by Stanmore Jaffrey’s Lit Team.

As people slowly filled the auditorium, popcorn in tow, many of the young children seemed enthusiastic to watch the film; after all, the documentary featured two adorable young girls by the name of Niamh [age 10] and Sofia [age 8]. The main focus of this documentary was to highlight the potential for Sunni/Shia unity; in it, the sisters are curious about the ongoing sectarian conflicts among Muslims and decide to embark on a journey to explore ideologies, facts and opinions with regards to the Shia school of thought and the Sunni school of thought. They want to know, simply put, if Sunni’s and Shia’s can unite.

 They soon discover that some people have extremely strong views; at one point, a man whom they interview, becomes quite aggressive. On the other hand, there are many people whom they interview in the documentary, who are of the notion that: it is OK to have a difference of opinion, as long as you respect one another; don’t let those differences be the driving force that splits you up. A strong message, one might say.

Niamh and Sofia decide to do some historical research and refer to the Nahjul Balagha. Interestingly, they stumble upon a quote by Imam Ali [A.S] Nahjul Balagha, Sermon 126

“With regard to me, two categories of people will be ruined, namely he who loves me too much and the love takes him away from rightfulness, and he who hates me too much and the hatred takes him away from rightfulness. The best man with regard to me is he who is on the middle course. So be with him and be with the great majority of Muslims because Allah’s hand of protection is on keeping unity…”

This prompts them to think that there is hope and that Sunni’s and Shia’s can be united.  

The documentary’s primary aim is to encourage consciousness and promote peace within the Muslim Ummah, an issue which is the topic of discussion in many a Muslim community. Contemporary Britain is facing a huge division within Muslims; this documentary is there to highlight their commonalities as opposed to their differences. The basic message is that of a humanitarian ethos; in essence it is reaching out to the audience and almost making a plea: Indeed there are differences but we should not resort to fighting over them; the message is clear: respect is of paramount.

Spoken Iris Films, in their own words, is a production company that aims to create content that tackles social and political issues, highlight injustices, uncover realities, encourage consciousness and promote peace.

Elsoudani feels that "It's very disappointing that, as Muslims, we hold such forceful, judgmental mentalities and that we have forgotten the countless similarities we have in common with one another." She believes humanity comes first: "To treat each other with mutual respect, believe what we want to believe and leave the judgement to God."

Elsoudani describes herself as "SuShi" - in the sense that she takes a little from both Sunni and Shia sects - she explains that the film reflects her personal experience. She has strong views about being united and feels that we should all "be less arrogant and more accepting of the other sect.” This was the reason why in one scene of the documentary she decided to interview a Sunni-Shia couple.

Overall, the documentary is thought provoking and insightful; it is commendable that Elsoudani decided to make such a film and tackle this topic in such an elegant and dignified manner. After all, there is enough hate in the world and we should all focus on ‘love and peace’ as well as respecting one another regardless of our differences of opinion.