Khuda Kay Liye is a 2007 Pakistani film directed by Shoaib Mansoor.
It tells us the story of three people who have problems that relate to on going issues and Islam. Two brothers who are both singers, Mansoor (Shaan) & Sarmad (Fawad Khan), become the best singers in Lahore. Sarmad gets influenced by an Islamic activist, Maulana Tahiri. He begins to practice the extremist interpretation of Islam, goes against music, also putting pressure on his free-spirited family to comply. There is a call to ban music and pictures.
In England, a girl Mary/Mariam (played by actor-model Iman Ali) is a westernized girl in love with a British man, Dave. Her hypocritical father disapproves, despite the fact that he is living with a British woman to whom he is not married. He promises her daughter marriage with Dave, after a trip to Pakistan. However, this is a trap and she is forcefully married to her cousin Sarmad in Afghanistan, and abandoned there.
Meanwhile, Mansoor goes to music school in Chicago. There, he meets a girl Janie and instantly falls in love with her. She quits alcohol for him, and they eventually get married. After 9/11, FBI officers capture him when someone overhears a drunk man accusing Mansoor of being a terrorist. Subsequently, he is tortured for a year in custody just because of his Islamic background.
Meanwhile, Mary manages to run away, but is caught by Sarmad in the process. Sarmad eventually consummates their marriage by force. Mansoor and Sarmad's parents finally come to her rescue under the protection of the British Government, but Mary, driven by vengeance, then takes her father and cousin to court in Pakistan. There, a wise Maulana Wali (Naseeruddin Shah) who explains to the court how Islam is being butchered in the name of war and hatred, bringing the religion forward in a believable and peaceful manner.
Traumatized by all the suffering he has seen and caused, Sarmad withdraws from the case. He also realizes the damage that he was made to do in the name of religion. Mary is now free, but decides to return to the village where she was kept prisoner, so she can educate the girls there. Meanwhile, Mansoor is still in U.S. custody after a year of torment; the last torture session having inflicted permanent brain damage. After a failed rehab attempt, he is deported and reunited with his family in Pakistan where, thanks to the hope of his family, he begins to slowly recover.
The movie clearly depicts the image of Islam as has come to be understood by the world. We see how the two singer brothers are forced to draw away from their music, and Sarmad, in the process undergoes a transformation. This shows us how Islam is seen to be intolerant to music and fine arts. A talented young man is pulled away from what he loves most and is taken to an extremist direction. This change is seen in the way he transforms his dressing and wears attire like Maulana Tahiri. In Pakistan, artistic expression is subdued because of religious dictatorship by such extremist characters.
Mariam, a westernized Muslim girl who is in love with a white man, is faced with strong disapproval from her father, who is not very happy about his daughter dating a white man; although the father himself lives with a woman he not even married to. This is a clear depiction of discrimination against women. The mother strongly voices against this partiality. He talks about how it is acceptable for a Muslim man to marry a non-Muslim girl but not for a Muslim girl. He fears he’ll be the laughing stock of the Pakistani community. The implications are much stronger against a girl than a boy. She simply has no say in her desires to marry someone. Although this may be an extreme portrayal of women in Islam at this time and age, these practices happen. Patriarchy and the unfair implications of a male dominated society is strongly shown where a woman is faced with bias in spite of a liberal upbringing. In the end, conventions stand ahead of a woman’s voice and free will.
Mansoor, who goes to England and falls in love with a British girl, is faced with conflict, as he is not sure how the different cultures may not fit in if they plan to get married. The girl, however, quits smoking and drinking for him. This is important in showing how alcohol is forbidden in Islam. It also shows how inter-religious marriages do take place in a liberal society, when the man is in power. A Muslim man marries a Christian girl.
After the 9/11 attacks, Mansoor is wrongly accused of being a terrorist and knowing the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden. He fears his life and he is put in prison and tortured. I see now how most Muslims abroad live in fear. Fear of being falsely accused, fear of being suspected merely on virtue of their religion. How unfair this attitude is. I strongly resent it. The film shows these prejudices in a way that shakes you out of your comfort in believing that everything is under control. It leaves you uneasy.
The music is captivating. Especially the fusion piece which reflects the confluence of cultures.
The girl escapes and Naseeruddin Shah explains how the image of Islam is marred by such misunderstandings of the religion. He attempts to correct this marred image by delivering meaningful lines. Shah symbolizes the voice of the Right Way to understand Islam.
Although the film is slow paced and lacks credible realism at times, watch it for its honesty and courageous attempt to correct the image of Islam and its potential to change existing beliefs.