By Adil James, MMNS
30 Days: Muslims and America appeared in 2005. The TV Guide description of the show was as follows: â€œA conservative Christian who believes that Islam is a violent religion experiences life as a Muslim by spending a month in an Islamic community in Dearborn, Mich. While there, he studies the Koran; adopts Muslim dress; and takes Arabic lessons.â€
So what has happened to the main characters since then? The show, produced by Morgan Spurlock, placed the conservative Christian West Virginian David Stacy with Shamael Haque and Sadia Shakir in Dearborn, Michigan.
Morgan Spurlock is a counter-culture icon in his own right, having produced â€œSupersize Meâ€ about the effects of eating only McDonaldâ€™s food for 30 days, and â€œWhere in the World is Osama Bin Laden,â€ a movie in which he uses the premise of a hunt for Bin Laden as a vehicle to explore relations between ethnicities and religions. After making Supersize Me, he decided to continue with the lessons he learned from that episode by making a TV show which puts people in unfamiliar situations for 30 days at a time.
The pilot episode was the â€œMuslims and Americaâ€ episode in which West Virginia Christian David Stacy lived with Shamael and Sadia Khan in Michigan for 30 days; Stacy visited with Muslim scholars, adopted Muslim practices (other than those which he felt uncomfortable doing given his own Christian background). He studied Arabic, learned about the practice of Islam from local Dearborn Muslims, and lived with Shamael and Sadia for the 30 days.
Recently Shamael and Sadia attended the ISPU fundraiser in Novi, Michigan, and I had the opportunity to speak with them about the show.
â€œWe were actually the pilot episodeâ€”we were the first ones shot,â€ Shamael explains. They showed our episode to the producers and they decided to go ahead with the show.
The couple married in 2000, and had had one baby, Hanaan, as of the filming of the show; now they have 3 children, Hanaan (now 5), Maryam, 22 months, and Raneem, their newborn, is 1 month old.
Sadia graduated from Cooley Law School.
â€œShe is actually practicing nowâ€”she does some estate planning,â€ although she remains busy with the coupleâ€™s 3 children, one of them only a few months old.
And Shamael has made professional progress as well.
â€œIâ€™m a doctor, neurology and psychology, at Henry Ford.â€ They remain in Michigan, living in Ann Arbor.
Shamael explains how they originally decided to do the show: â€œWe talked about it and decided it was a way to show Muslims in a positive light, to open dialog between Muslims and non-Muslims.â€
The couple is still in touch with David Stacy, who himself is married to a Filipina woman, with now two children. The couples occasionally visit one another.
Stacy continued learning about Islam after the show was over, fasting a day in Ramadan when he returned to West Virginia and meeting and speaking with local Muslims there.
â€œOverall it was a really positive experience,â€ explains Shamael. He explains that the show has been seen all over the world, including in Dubai.