|| Filmmaker details Prophet's life|
Filmmaker details Prophet's life|
The Toledo Blade
MUO lecture to explore Mohammed’s legacy
| Alex Kronemer was finishing up a documentary on the Prophet
Mohammed, founder of Islam, when his neatly planned project was torn apart by
the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“The idea [for the film] was
born in 1988, when [author] Michael Wolfe and I first discussed it, and
production began in July, 2000. The film was finished in July, 2002,” Mr.
Kronemer said in a recent interview from Cairo, Egypt, where he was attending
the World Economic Forum. “Of course, a very important date happened in between
Mr. Kronemer, who will give a lecture Friday sponsored by the
United Muslims Association of Toledo, said he was forced to rewrite the
documentary to include the terrorist attacks, but also to shift somewhat the
perspective of his film, Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet.
“We really did
not intend to deal with war and jihad and battles,” he said. “We wanted to focus
more on community building. But after 9/11, everybody was talking about wars and
battles, and the film would have seemed irrelevant if we didn’t include those
Fortunately, the documentary was not finished when the 9/11
attacks shook the world and ...
Mr. Kronemer had time to make adjustments. The program premiered on PBS-TV
nationwide in December, 2002, and has been rebroadcast more than 600 times on
Mr. Kronemer, 45, who grew up in western Pennsylvania,
has a master’s degree in theological studies from Harvard University. In 1996,
he was awarded a Joseph J. Malone Fellowship for Middle East and Islamic
Studies, which funded a research tour of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.
filmmaker said he converted to Islam about 20 years ago and was interested in
using his skills to tell the life story of founder of Islam, who was born about
570 A.D. in what is now Saudi Arabia.
It was a documentary that he felt
would appeal to a general audience, not just Muslims.
“I didn’t know very
much about his life and it is just a very interesting and sort of an exciting
story,” he said. “It struck me that few people in America knew much about him,
and he is one of the most important people who ever lived.”
said that while Jesus, Moses, and other religious figures seemed to be always in
control of the situation, “Mohammed comes across as very much a human being, a
person we can relate to.”
His life story is fascinating whether one
perceives Mohammed to be a prophet who received revelations from God or just a
man, Mr. Kronemer said.
“If he was just a man, his life story is even
more amazing in some ways,” he said. “Here is this person, illiterate, living in
the middle of nowhere, attacked by just about everyone, and not only is he able
to survive but he was able to craft a religion, with a holy book and all, that
more than 1 billion people follow — not just Arabs, but Indonesians, Europeans,
Americans, Pakistanis. That’s an amazing achievement.”
Individual stories help paint a fuller portrait of Mohammed, he
For example, Mohammed and small group of supporters from Medina
once fought a larger army from Mecca who was planning to resume the fighting the
next day and wipe out the Medinans.
Mohammed told his followers to build
campfires and spread them out as across the desert as far as
“They didn’t quite get it, but they did as he told them,” Mr.
Kronemer said. “The Meccans saw all these campfires spread out across the desert
and assumed that all the Medinans had come to fight when the sun rose. The
Meccans didn’t want to fight all of the Medinans so they fled. It was a very
Mr. Kronemer has written articles about what Mohammed would
say about terrorism.
In the Prophet’s day, he severely punished people
who committed violence against a community. The word terrorism did not exist
then, but there were “bandit men” who tried to spread fear.
trying to revolutionize society, to impose laws and justice. Things that
threatened society had the fiercest punishment because terrorism is more than
the killing two or five or whatever, it is a way to undermine society. So those
who commit terrorism are subject to the worst punishment,” Mr. Kronemer said.
“Mohammed would condemn terrorism.”
Mr. Kronemer’s latest projects are
documentaries about the rise and fall of Islam in Spain and a film titled Prince
Among Slaves, which follows the true story of a West African Muslim prince sold
into slavery in 1788 and released 40 years later through the intercession of an
Alex Kronemer will talk on the topic, “Who Is Prophet
Mohammed” at 7 p.m. Friday in the Dana Center, Medical University of Ohio, 3000
Arlington Ave. Admission is free; refreshments will be served. The lecture is
presented by the United Muslims Association of Toledo.
Yonke at: email@example.com or 419-724-6154.
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