'Little Mosque On the Prairie'
Jan. 10, 2006 — -- There are no one-room schoolhouses or any horses on a new Canadian TV show taking its inspiration from "Little House on the Prairie."
The classic TV series has been reinvented in a new comedic series which explores the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims, something the show's creator has experienced first hand.
"When I got married I moved to the prairie where there was only one mosque in a small Muslim community," said "Little Mosque on the Prairie" creator Zarqa Nawaz. "It was a different experience for me because Muslims of different ideologies had to deal with each other. So I thought there was so much interesting material, [so many] hilarious situations coming out of this situation [that] it could sustain a sitcom."
The 39-year-old mother of four is a Canadian Muslim of Pakistani origin, living in the prairie town of Regina, Saskatchewan. Her new CBC series features a young, successful lawyer from Toronto who abandons his career and moves west to become the spiritual leader of the small Muslim community in the town of Mercy.
Hilarity ensues as members of the Muslim community and prairie residents confront different traditions, beliefs and ways of life.
While "Little Mosque" deals with comedic situations, from coed swimming at the local pool to renaming Halloween "Halal-ween" -- "halal" being the Arabic word for anything religiously permissible -- Nawaz's plot lines do not shy away from controversial topics.
Episodes also deal with race, the clash of traditional and modern values, and, obviously, religious beliefs. Still, Nawaz said it's not about politics.
"It's not really a show that deals with the politics of what's going on internationally," said Nawaz. "It deals with the foibles of everyday life, the relationships between spouses, husbands and wives, relationships between them and their children, relationships between Muslims and non-Muslims, and the comedy of everyday material that we deal with in life."