National Geographic follows three pilgrims from Malaysia, South Africa, and the United States as the travel to Mecca for the hajj.National Geographic follows three pilgrims from Malaysia, South Africa, and the United States as the travel to Mecca for the hajj.National Geographic follows three pilgrims from Malaysia, South Africa, and the United States as the travel to Mecca for the hajj.
The movie is plotted around the annual pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca - the hajj. Millions of people come here to participate in a five-day event for salvation. The whole event is introduced from the perspectives of three people of different national, cultural, and economic backgrounds. The film highlights such aspects as equality, modesty of the hajj effectively thanks to the filming, choice of characters, direct words from the three characters, and the appeal to honesty. There is a strong emphasis on the equality throughout the film. The three main characters from the film were especially chosen from very diverse backgrounds to achieve demonstrate equality as well as possible. They are from different countries, and even continents - Malaysia, South Africa, and the USA; they are of different genders, being two men and one woman; they have different economic backgrounds, because it was mentioned that Malaysian man was comparingly rich. However, the only thing that unites them all was the spiritual background - faith in Islam. Although it was mentioned that there was a sense of inequality, as African and American characters mentioned being asked where they come, and the latter one directly saying that "such questions" can be upsetting", all three antagonists were happy to feel equal towards the end of the film and felt no discrimination. Also, there were the VIP buffets for the ones who can pay for it and the ones that can discriminate poorer people, this problem was immediately resolved by mentioning that all people have access to tents, but these extra services are for the ones who may wish to pay for it. Another aspect of the tradition that was strongly emphasized is modesty. The idea is that every pilgrim is the servant of God, and all of them should practice patience during the chaotic movement of a massive crowd. Also, it should be noticed that all the pilgrims have dressed almost identically. This is done so that people cannot dress differently, and hence, cannot be discriminated based on their physical appearances. When the movie shows men dressing white towels, the narrator directly mentioned that "the rich and poor, the literate and illiterate, all wear the same." Although this part can be closely related to equality, it also shows modesty of people, since they can feel down to the Earth. Symbolically, dressing equally also gives opportunities to focus on faith, that it is the most important; or speaking by the words of the South African character, "what matters is the heart." Effectiveness of emphasis on equality and modesty is achieved well thanks to the direct words from the characters, the choice of characters, demonstration of the culture, and appeal to honesty. First of all, the quotes of the three main characters speak for themselves - they explicitly show the feelings during the event. South African man said "...God gathered all the nations together. No discrimination. If you look left and right, you find women and men are standing up crying to God to show that all of us are one in front of God." Only one line of such words shows that the hajj promotes equality and modesty for all. Secondly, the three main characters were especially chosen from different social backgrounds. It is done to demonstrate the positive attitudes towards hajj and Islam in general, to the audience of the film by giving different cultural perspectives on the event. Thirdly, demonstration of the culture was achieved well due to the visual representations. The movie was filmed in such a way that the audience can feel as emphatic as possible. Crying men and women, older people and children, and hustling crowds convey the friendly, spiritual, yet busy atmosphere of the event. In addition, the transition from calmness of the places where the three main characters were in the beginning, to the business of the people at Mecca that was shown throughout the film highlights the idea that the journey is challenging, but all the pilgrims stay calm; in such a demonstrative way, the film was able to demonstrate the modesty of pilgrims at the hajj. Having such successful scenes, the movie is able to effectively emphasize the positive moral sides of hajj. Finally, the appeal to honesty is one of the reasons that helped to reach effectiveness of the movie in showing the positive sides of hajj. It can be seen that the creators of the movie tried to avoid bias and showed some aspects of discrimination such as the VIP rooms, offensive questions that South African and the US characters were asked etc. However, towards the end of the film, all characters were happy, full of love, and felt no discrimination; the question of VIP buffet was solved immediately by the interview of its manager when he replied that "the extra services should be provided if the pilgrims can pay for it." Although the creators of the movie could avoid including the indicators of honesty, the fact that it was done so, and that the three main characters were happy in the end is one of the main factors that makes this movie effective in describing hajj with a positive attitude. Concluding these four reasons, it can be said that the movie by itself was strongly effective in showing the annual event as promoting equality and modesty. Although the movie was not persuasive, but more descriptive, it showed the annual event of hajj from the positive attitude avoiding bias, and included many details of the event. It effectively used the four abovementioned techniques to describe the event as well as possible. Such a description of the event may draw much more positive and emphatic attitude not only towards the event, but also towards Islam in general.
- Nov 8, 2020
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