Sajed Bhandari

America, Books, Cooking, Muslims and some other things

Documentary Review 1: “The Man Who Walked Across the World- Magicians and Mystics”

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*** Accounting owns me for the next week so no new writing… This is a very old article I wrote.***

Documentary Review 1: “The Man Who Walked Across the World- Magicians and Mystics”

Introduction

I have this documentary fetish.  I joined a group on Facebook called; I watch the history channel like its porn.  True statement.  So, one of the recent documentaries that I watched, and felt that it was worth mentioning in a review is “The Man Who Walked Across the World- Magicians and Mystics”.  The documentary follows an Arabist, Tim Mackintosh-Smith, who retraces the steps of the 14th Century Muslim traveler, Ibn Batuta.  I am not a huge fan of Ibn Batuta, nonetheless, his travels always intrigued me.

A Disclaimer: This is my first post of the like, so bare with me…

Biography of Ibn Batuta

His name was Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn ِAbdullah Al Lawati Al Tanji Ibn Battuta.  He was born in February of 1304 and died about 60 to 70 years later.  Ibn Batuta was a Moroccan Berber and a jurisprudent in the Madhab of Imam Malik (RH).  Although he was a scholar in his own, he is primarily known in the Muslim world and the Western world for his travels.  He traveled across much of the Muslim world as well as outside of it.  Ibn Batuta visited North Africa, West Africa, Southern Europe and Eastern Europe in the West, to the Middle East, Indian subcontinent, Central Asia, Southeast Asia and China.  And for the intents and purposes of this blog entry, that is all we will have to know about our sometimes-friend, Ibn Batuta.

Brief Synopsis of the Documentary

The narrator of this documentary is Tim Mackintosh-Smith.  He is an Arabist and has lived in the Muslim world for half of his life.  The documentary begins in Turkey, the homeland of Rumi.  This is where, according to Mackintosh-Smith, Ibn Batuta’s journey began.  The documentary continues with the narrator spending an evening with Sufis of the Mevlevi order.  The gathering, technically illegal in Turkey now, consisted of dancing, music, food and statements of Rumi’s history and philosophy.  Mackintosh-Smith then leaves the busy city to interview descendents of the nomadic Sultans in the outskirts of Turkey.  The documentary continues to the Crimea, or modern-day Ukraine and a visit to an Orthodox church, whereto it is said that Ibn Batuta also traveled.  The overwhelming remainder of the video consists of Ibn Batuta’s stay in Indian and the Sultan, Mohammad Shah.

Reflections/Conclusions

So pretty much everything that preceding this section was boring and dry because there was very little personality within the text.  Believe me I know this.  I just wanted to offer a brief historical background of the focus of this documentary and a synopsis of the documentary; you should watch it yourself (I offer the link at the bottom of this entry).  So, I don’t consider myself too accepting of a person.  However, as of late, I have been trying to broaden my horizons and exposure to other cultures and beliefs.  Aristotle is quoted to have said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it”.  I feel as though I have reached a status in my intellectual endeavors whereby I can now seek out new ideas and thoughts without feeling tremendous influence by them.  With this quote in mind, I watched this documentary with a surprising amount of tolerance and wonder.

The narrator of the documentary set out to show a picture of the Muslim world that is not always seen in the West.  It sought to bring down the monolithic image of the Muslim world that has been created in today’s media and political discourse.  The Arabist does a wonderful job of showcasing the rich diversity that is found within the Muslim world.  I am of a particular persuasion, school of thought, and ideology.  However, I could not help but revel in the beauty of all the different peoples and cultures studied in this short documentary.  This is a theme or understanding that you will see in a lot of my writings from now on.  The Mevlevis in Turkey, the Tatars in Ukraine and the Muslim Magicians in India showcased in this documentary each offered a very human, yet very distinct face to Muslims and the Muslim world.

I found myself, not necessarily re-evaluating my social or religious beliefs, rather finding a certain beauty in the difference that exists in our Muslim societies.  It peaked my curiosity in cultures that I might have previously found offensive or heretical.  I hope this is only a beginning to a thorough study of the Muslim world and the plethora of peoples and cultures it has to offer.

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Written by sajedbhandari

May 7, 2010 at 1:19 am

Posted in Reviews

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