Anisa Mehdi

on being a filmmaker, a journalist
and an American Muslim

Anisa MehdiIn 2003, journalist Anisa Mehdi opened a window onto Islam that few non-Muslims had seen before. In the National Geographic documentary Inside Mecca, producer/director Mehdi followed three Muslims during the Hajj, the pilgrimage required of all able Muslims to holy Mecca, a city off-limits to anyone other than followers of Muhammad. The documentary is just one part of a body of work the Emmy-award winning Mehdi has created illuminating the lives, beliefs and challenges faced by Muslims today as members of not only the fastest growing religion, but one that is oftentimes misunderstood. Through her documentaries, radio commentaries, articles and talks Mehdi has worked to clear away some of the misperceptions and stereotypes many non-Muslims hold, and present Islam as the religion of love and harmony that she has known all her life.

In the interviews that follow, explorefaith asked Anisa Mehdi about her faith background, her personal relationship with God in an era of ongoing terrorist attacks, her understanding of Islam, and the roles and rights of women in Islamic society. Mehdi’s candor, clarity and insight offer yet another window into the Islamic faith; her examples of inter-religious harmony—both personal and in community—demonstrate that windows opened through understanding can also become doors to reconciliation. 

Anisa Mehdi on...
Being an American Muslim, Pre and Post September 11
We were going to Sunday school to make friends, to learn about the stories of the Bible, to learn music (I had a fabulous music director at this church.... We were always encouraged to explore our own spirituality. We were never told: This is what you need to believe. Simultaneously, we were learning about Islam....Read More

Religion, Terrorism & Politics
What people are angry about is what human beings have been angry about forever. Political inequity, economic inequity, dictators who are keeping all the money for the upper classes and leaving their nations impoverished. The aggression of a more-powerful nation upon a less-powerful nation. It’s all politics. It really has nothing to do with religion.... Read More

Women's Rights and Islamic Law
I would also like the stories to be told of what the reality was for Muslim women in the early days of Islam. That is very different from what we see typically in the media today…scenes of oppression, lack of opportunity professionally, lack of opportunity for education, which, as I've said before, are cultural mandates rather than religious mandates on these people....Read More