A.R. Rahman, the Oscar-winning composer of Slumdog Millionaire, has responded to threats of a fatwa against him after contributing the score to a new film called Muhammad: The Messenger of God. “I didn’t direct or produce the movie … I just did the music. My spiritual experiences working on the film are very personal and I prefer not to share these,” Rahman, a Muslim himself, wrote on Facebook. “My decision to compose the music for this film was made in good faith and with no intention of causing offense.”
The Mumbai-based Raza Academy levied the threats against the composer, saying that the biopic – the first film in a planned trilogy – made a mockery of the prophet. Unsavory depictions of Muhammad have resulted in violent incidents throughout the world, from a murder plot against Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard and the Charlie Hebdo massacre to the shooting at a Muhammad cartoon event in Garland, Texas and the failed Times Square bombing in 2010.
The film’s director Majid Majidi has faced similar threats, The Guardian reports, although he has not yet commented on the fatwa against him. In the case of Muhammad: The Messenger of God, the Iranian film shows the prophet’s back as well as his feet and hands as a baby, two instances considered taboo among the Sunni population. The Raza Academy expressed concerns that, if the actor who portrays Muhammad later takes the role of a criminal in another film, people will become confused and associate Islam with crime.
“Today, there is a blur between the real world and the virtual world and I have been taken aback to see that, for some years now, unethical, unacceptable and unkind remarks are made online concerning the Holy Prophet,” Rahman lamented. “These abhorrent comments are no doubt due to a lack of understanding. I have always felt that we must counter this reaction with love and kindness, and through the audio-visual media reach out to people who wish to broaden their understanding.”