Despite being at the early stages of production, one British Muslim's film project has caused waves of controversy as it plans to follow the lives of Muslim women who dare to love outside their faith.
A documentary film titled Hidden Heart, which explores the challenges which UK-based Muslim women face when they choose to marry outside of their faith, is showing later this year at the Sheffield Documentary Festival. The movie, by British filmmaker and director Zara Afzal, tackles a subject which has long been a taboo in Muslim society; that of a Muslim woman marrying a non-Muslim man, a tendency which is now a growing trend amongst first and second generation women in the UK.
The movie is currently under production and is expected to be completed later this year, and is being financially backed by a crowd-funding campaign. Afzal has said that "the best chance of making the film with the sensitivity it deserves, is to make it independently, outside of television and then distribute it through festivals and independent cinemas to build a following for the film.” And it is certainly a sensitive subject, not just in the UK, but in the Muslim world in general. While a Muslim man is allowed to marry a non-Muslim woman without her needing to convert, the opposite situation is often considered unthinkable – although it's legal in the UK for interfaith couples to marry, in Islam it is explicitly forbidden that a Muslim woman marry a non-Muslim man, and that often leads to the ostracisation of the women who decide to go against the norm and find love outside of their faith. The film, which is already generating controversy even before it's release, follows the personal accounts of such women and its director hopes that by shedding light on these oft stigmatized marriages it might help overturn the negative perception of them.