A Jihad for Love

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A Jihad for Love
A Jihad for Love Poster.jpg
First Run Features poster for A Jihad for Love (US)
Directed by Parvez Sharma
Produced by Sandi Simcha DuBowski
Parvez Sharma
Music by Sussan Deyhim
Richard Horowitz
supervised by
Ramsay Adams
Abe Velez
Cinematography Parvez Sharma
Edited by Juliet Weber
Distributed by First Run Features (U.S.)
Release date
  • September 9, 2007 (2007-09-09) (Toronto International Film Festival)
  • May 21, 2008 (2008-05-21) (United States)
Running time
81 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English, Arabic, Persian, Urdu, Hindi, French, Turkish, etc.
Box office $105,651

A Jihad for Love (also known by the working title In the Name of Allah) is a 2007 documentary film on the coexistence of Islam and homosexuality.[2] The film is directed by Parvez Sharma, and produced by Sharma and Trembling Before G-d director Sandi DuBowski.


A Jihad for Love is produced by Halal Films, in association with the Sundance Documentary Fund, Channel 4 Television (UK), ZDF (Germany), Arte (France-Germany), Logo (US) and SBS (Australia).

The documentary was filmed in 12 different countries and in nine languages.[1][3] Sharma conducted interviews throughout North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Countries included Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Egypt, Bangladesh, Turkey, France, India, South Africa, the United States and the United Kingdom.[3] He found many of his interviewees online, and received thousands of emails.[4]

The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2007, and has been screened to great acclaim at several film festivals around the world. It was the Opening film for the prestigious Panorama Dokumente section of the Berlin Film Festival in February, 2008. The U.S. theatrical release was May 21, 2008 at the IFC Center in New York City. The film screened at the Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco on June 28, 2008, and the Tokyo International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival on July 13, 2008.

Significance of the title[edit]

The title A Jihad for Love refers to the Islamic concept of jihad, as a religious struggle. The film seeks to reclaim this concept of personal struggle, as it is used by the media and politicians almost exclusively to mean "holy war" and to refer to violent acts perpetrated by extremist Muslims.

The film has gone by several titles, beginning with the official working title, In the Name of Allah.[5]

Among Muslims, the phrase (bismillah in Arabic) may be used before beginning actions, speech, or writing. Its most notable use in Al-Fatiha, the opening passage of the Qur'an, which begins Bismillahi r-Rahmani r-Rahim. All surahs of the Qur'an begin with "Bismillahi r-Rahmani r-Rahim," with the exception of the ninth.

Producer DuBowski's previous film, Trembling Before G-d, on Orthodox and Hasidic Jews, also included the name of God, written with a hyphen as in Jewish tradition. Allah is the name of God in Islam and Arabic, and it is often used among Muslims residing in Muslim countries and monotheists in Arabic speaking countries.

Controversy and problems[edit]

Sharma's making of the film has not been without criticism.

Sharma refuses to associate homosexuality with shame, but recognizes the need to protect the safety and privacy of his sources, by filming them in silhouette or with their faces blurred. In one case, the family of an Afghan woman he interviewed "would undoubtedly kill her" if they found out she was lesbian. In another example, one of the associate producers, an Egyptian gay man, chose not to be listed in the credits for fear of possible consequences.[4]

The film was banned from screening at the 2008 Singapore International Film Festival "in view of the sensitive nature of the subject that features Muslim homosexuals in various countries and their struggle to reconcile religion and their lifestyle," Amy Chua, Singapore Board of Film Censors chairwoman was quoted as saying by The Straits Times.[6]

Critical reception[edit]

As of April 6, 2015, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 76% percent of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 32 reviews.[7] Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 55 out of 100, based on six reviews — indicating mixed or average reviews.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "A Jihad for Love: Excerpts From A Work-In-Progress". Miami Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. Archived from the original on June 9, 2007. Retrieved June 13, 2007. 
  2. ^ "A Jihad for Love". ajihadforlove.com. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved June 13, 2007. 
  3. ^ a b "A Jihad for Love". Hartley Film Foundation. 2007. Retrieved February 18, 2007. 
  4. ^ a b c Hays, Matthew (November 2, 2004). "Act of Faith: A Film on Gays and Islam". The New York Times. Retrieved February 5, 2007. 
  5. ^ "In the Name of Allah". tremblingbeforeg-d.com. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved June 13, 2007. 
  6. ^ Associated Press. "Singapore censors ban films on terrorism, homosexual, fetish". The China Post. Retrieved March 8, 2008. 
  7. ^ "Jihad for Love Movie Reviews, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on May 26, 2008. Retrieved May 23, 2008. 
  8. ^ "Jihad for Love, A (2008): Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on May 20, 2008. Retrieved May 23, 2008. 

External links[edit]