My Live Chat on NDTV

This is the text of my live chat on NDTV with viewers, a few hours ago. (The abusive questions are not reproduced).

NDTV 24X7 is the TV broadcaster that has just shown "A Jihad for Love" to millions of viewers across the world.

NDTV.com: The forum is now closed for questions. But do keep sending us your comments on the film, A Jihad for Love.
Parvez Sharma: The DVD can be bought at www.ajihadforlove.com where links guide you to buying it outside the US and Canada! All your friends and family need to see it as it is a valuable resource for those who still live in fear or feel that they are alone and have no role models to look up to.
Parvez Sharma: Thank you everyone! I applaud NDTV's courage and vision for showing a film like this and in generating a debate that is critical. Believe me not many broadcasters would have dared. So you should all support NDTV for its courage and you should please spread the word widely about the film, buy it (it has subtitles in 8 languages including Hindi and Urdu), vsit my blog and the website and if you wish-talk to me on Facebook and Twitter! Thanks again!
Parvez Sharma: Hey Peter
I certainly think the film tried to cover way too much! Islam is complicated and I wish I had just made the film about the closeted gay Muslim penguin on the beach in South Africa (for those of you who have not seen the film yet, this happens in the first 20 minutes!) But seriously-this is a complex issue and I think the film covers pretty tricky terrain rather well
[Comment From peter ]
Did the film try to cover too much?
Parvez Sharma: Hey Miraj:
My Jihad continues in many many ways. Do visit my blog all of you at www.ajihadforlove.blogspot.com and you will see how. I have been doing a lot of work with the situation in Iran as well for example. And tonight (or this morning, after this) there will be a Jihad for sleep ;-)
Parvez Sharma: Hey Deepak! Please watch the film again! Its a documentary-not a fiction film (though sometimes it does seem a little bit unreal!) Its almost 4:30 am here on the East coast in the States, so maybe my tongue is way more in my cheek than it usually is as well!
Parvez Sharma: Hey Rahul
I am not very good at predicting the future! I dont think in our lifetimes we will see a worldwide acceptance of homosexuality, not from the Vatican and certainly not from Islam or even lets say the RSS/BJP gang. Now my own future? Thats way more interesting. There is a book in the works. I travel a lot and speak way too much around the world and people seem to listen so far (so thats a good thing) and honestly I am plotting a return to India to make a subversive Bollywood film-that is if they can deal with a completely out and proud homosexual filmmaker! (so many in that town are completely in the closet ;-)
Parvez Sharma: Hey Komal
The greater Jihad in Islam is the Jihad ul Nafs, or the struggle within the self. This can manifest in many ways and most of them are ones of faith and contemplation. Jihad has been used variously through Islamic history-for example a particularly rich period of Arab (mostlt Egyptian) literature was referred to as the Jihad of the Pen. However there are also those who claim that Jihad is just Holy War and equate that with killing innocent people and that is the kind of interpretation that needs to be challenged by many more Muslims and condemned publicly by more Ulema in the Muslim world.
Parvez Sharma: Hey McLovin: I seem to get a lot of McLovin from most Muslims, most of the time! I am mostly fatwa-free still and there is a reason for that. Unlike "Muslim" opportunists like Irshad Manji I do not attack my own religion and I feel that people value that. There are way too many people like her who have made an industry out of working with right wing conservatives in defaming a 1428 year old religion while having pretty much no understanding of it.
Parvez Sharma: Eisha: Islam has a very large heart and more Muslims need to pick up cameras and tell our stories unfiltered!
[Comment From Komal ]
My view-- "jihad" speaks not of holy war but of spiritual struggle...do you agree ?
[Comment From Eisha ]
Does islam have room for this kind of cinema
Parvez Sharma: Hey Athar
A simple google search will correct the many falsehoods in your question. Homosexuality is NOT a major factor in HIV-infact the largest number of infections happen in heterosexual populations. My film DOES NOT show Islam as a backward religion because the people in the film are true believers who love their Islam. And as far as condemning homosexuality as a Muslim goes Athar, I agree that most Muslims think it is wrong.
Parvez Sharma: Tina: Fundraising is a huge challenge and young filmmakers like me struggle a lot. I hope things become easier with the huge success of this, my first film. But independent filmmaking is tough. It took us years to get the big broadcasters on board even though the subject matter for them was "sexy". A record number of foundations also funded this film. And we were extremely lucky to get distribution in theaters in the US and Canada atleast
[Comment From Tina ]
Hi Parvez, does money ever become a constraint for a young filmmaker like you ?
Parvez Sharma: Manisha: I lived through eight years of George Bush when the values of democracy and free speech were a mirage! So America was not the greatest place to be in. Its only now, after Obama that it feels a little bit (and not always) like the promised land again! I even took on Obamas middle name as my Facebook name when he won (and I was not alone). Lets see what he does with Muslim issues. With immigration. With healthcare and yes "gay marriage"
[Comment From Michelle ]
Any part you wish you had shot differently ?
Parvez Sharma: Sure Saurabh: I did feel like running for cover because I was always filming undercover anyway! Whenever I was in tricky situations I was able to bribe the police and found that the bribe system works as well in Cairo as it does in your local police station in Gurgaon!
Parvez Sharma: Hey Yashika
The film has been playing around the world. You can see it on NDTV now and it is also on DVD which you can buy when you click on www.ajihadforlove.com
Parvez Sharma: Vijay:
I agree that calling homosexuality "unnatural" in 2009 makes no sense! However we have to understand that for the majority of people all over the world, cultural and/or religion dictate the heterosexual norm. I am able to understand the other side (and it took me a long time to get there). It is also interesting as I said earlier that Hindu and Muslim "leaders" in India can agree on little, but definitely seem to agree on the sin of homosexualty!
[Comment From Saurabh ]
Hi Parvez, did you while filming at any point in time feel the desperate urge to leave your camera behind and run for cover !! Just a fun question !!
[Comment From Yashika ]
Hey! When does the movie release and where?
Parvez Sharma: Hey Saurabh
The reaction in the West has been amazing! This film has now been seen in 49 countries by more than 4 million people at last count (and I dont have the NDTV numbers yet). I think for Western audiences the film has also been a primer on Islam, almost like an Islam 101
[Comment From Saurabh ]
How has the western world reacted to your film ?
Parvez Sharma: Lokesh: All three monothesims condemn homosexuality and let us not forget that even in America there are large sections of the country that are deeply moralistic, conservative and Christian-and disapprove of homosexuality in ways that mirror Islamic disapproval. I think the problem lies in a nation like Egypt, where a supposedly "secular" but dictatorial regime carried out a pogrom against gay men and whenever the state starts policing peoples bedrooms we have problems
Parvez Sharma: Hey Muneera:
Its about time a prehistoric law like 377 was sent to the dustbin of history! Its the worst thing the British left in India,Pakistan, Bangladesh. It is outdated and creates huge problems. I am not sure how this will play out at a governmental level and I am very interested in seeing how the ruling by the Delhi High Court will be seen in Pakistan and Bangladesh especially.
[Comment From Lokesh ]
Parvez, if the world’s most popular religion denounces homosexuality, what sets this brand of anti-gay sentiment apart from others?
Parvez Sharma: Hi Carla: Yes racism and Islamophobia are a way of life in the West, post September 11. Interestingly in Muslim communities/countries I was invisible because I looked like everybody else but it was always coming back to the US when the visas in my passport lead to fun times at the airport!
Parvez Sharma: Hey Roshan: For me the gay Imam in South Africa with the three children was the most intelectually engaging. However the two women you see in Egypt were the most compelling (Maryam and Maha) because their struggle was just so impossible-Maryam infact said repeatedly that in order to feel that she was a good Muslim she felt she needed to be punished. That was tragic and also at the very heart of the film.
Parvez Sharma: Dear Mr Coorg:
I am actually a great defender of Islam! Have you seen my film or read any of my interviews easily available on the web? Infact I think it would be very wrong to compare me to the people you mention. Please see and absorb "A Jihad for Love" and I promise you that your conclusion will be different.
[Comment From Mishi Raina ]
Your film fails to address the issue of how has homophobia evolved in the Muslim world? Could you elaborate?
Parvez Sharma: Hey Rahul: Most filmmakers will look at their work in critical ways and I am no exception ;-) If I was to do the film again I would have done the parts in Iran completely differently and perhaps I would also have let some of my current pessimism shine through a bit more. Because now, after a year of traveling I do not think that there can be a Quranic or theological "solution" to the "problem" of homosexuality (please do note the quotes) that is acceptable to one billion plus Muslims. I also do not think that any religion is going to be "comfortable" with homosexuality in any of our lifetimes.
[Comment From mr.coorg ]
Those who write against Islam will always become famous! tatz what history tells us! example: salman rushdie, naipul, tasleema and there will be no doubt next in the number will be U, can u please comment on this?
[Comment From Roshan ]
Who was the film's most compelling subject ?
Parvez Sharma: Tanmay: I do not feel there is a sense of Muslim brotherhood at all! Islam is way too diverse and for most of the time Muslims cannot agree on most things. I certainly feel no brotherhood with Bin Laden or Kassab. And I think this lack of unity worldwide has created tremendous problems-but the complexity of what is the worlds fastest growing religion (Islam) makes it pretty impossible for there to be any kind of unity
Parvez Sharma: Shailija: I have traveled very widely around the world with this film, in more countries than I can even remember and yes that travel and exposure to diverse cultures (and also the diversity of Islam) has lead me to believe that one persons terrorist can be another persons freedom fighter. It may not be very kosher to say this in India, but Kashmir is a perfect example where people across the border look at the same situation in completely different ways.
Parvez Sharma: Noopur: In some ways it took a lifetime, of trying and understanding parts of my faith and parts of my mixed heritage and my own sexuality. And in reality I started filming in 2002 right after September 11. I dont live in India anymore, but I do feel it is easier to be gay in India today. I came out at a young age when I was in India, but at that time not many people were able to do so. However strong cultural and religious barriers remain. And isnt it interesting to see right wing Hindus and Muslims speak in the same voice to condemn the Section 377 ruling? I always say-nothing unites Hindus, Muslims and Jews more than their fear of homosexuality!
Parvez Sharma: Imran: Nothing has given me greater pleasure than seeing Western audiences go up to the box office here in the US for example (the film was released in theaters across the country) and say "Can I have two tickets for Jihad please?". This is why I chose the title. To take the discussion of Islam away from just violence. To reclaim some of the true meanings of words that we have been taught to forget and that includes Jihad which really means an inner struggle (Nafs) to be a better Muslim. And to put Jihad and Love right next to each other is a powerful statement for a powerful film.
Parvez Sharma: Salam alaikum Yassir- I have read the Holy Quran very well and do consider myself a good Muslim. Let me ask you this-where in the Quran does Allah swt ask us to judge the faith of other Muslims? Is he not the one who will decide finally? Lets respect the basic tenets of our religion and believe me when you see the film, the respect for Islam is what you see.
[Comment From Naman ]
If Islam is okay with polygamy, why not homosexuality?
[Comment From Yasir ]
I want to ask, just one thing. Have you read the Quran or are you a Muslim just by name? You need to follow Quran and Islam to be called a Muslim.
[Comment From Imran ]
I want to ask you the sole meaning of keeping this name
[Comment From Noopur ]
Parvez how long did it take you to make the film? Do you feel it's easier to be gay in India today as compared to say 7-8 yrs ago?
[Comment From Surekha ]
Parvez, even while exploring the religous and cultural differences of the gay community across Islamic countries, how did you manage to retain the commonality in all of them: that of Jihad?
[Comment From Carla ]
Have you ever been a victim of racism, manifested mostly in just getting around with your muslim names in western nations ?
[Comment From Shailja ]
One person’s terrorist is another persons freedom fighter- do you believe that's true ?
[Comment From Tanmay ]
Parvez, do you believe there still exists a sense of Muslim brotherhood around the world ? Any instance that makes you believe that ?
[Comment From Akshit ]
Parvez, through this film, could you reclaim the Islamic concept of a greater Jihad? What is Jihad, please explain.
[Comment From Muneera ]
Your film comes at a time when Section 377 of the Indian penal code has been successfully challenged. Do you believe acceptance of the film will now come by more easily ? also what's your view on the judgement
[Comment From Rahul ]
Parvez, do you disagree with any part of your film and feel you could have executed it better ?
[Comment From Suhail Ahmed ]
Kudos to Parvez to highlighted this thorny issue of homosxuality. Its natural desire one cannot deny it.
[Comment From rahul ]
the film is great. But what's the future?
[Comment From Nadeem ]
Almost of third of countries worldwide still criminalises same sex relationships and seven carry the death penalty for the offence. Parvez, what in your opinion will ensure a change in mindset?
[Comment From Sunaina]
Your film is an intelligent and honest appraisal of Islam as a multi-denominational religious experience. Share with us your most memorable thoughts or discoveries while shooting the fim?
[Comment From Miraj Qureshi ]
Parvez, we Muslims are members of the world's fastest growing religion, indeed the second largest. We are all waging several jihads within ourselves. Does the Jihad still continue for you?
[Comment From Manisha ]
Values of tolerance, of democracy, of free speech-- is that why you chose America?
[Comment From vijay ]
I am not sure about what the scriptures say, but both muslims and hindu fundamentalists are against homosexuals, much like Hitler was. We dont know yet if homosexual traits are conditioned or are genetic. Whatever the case may be, calling it un-natural is foolishness. If humans really blv in natural living then we should stop wearing clothes, using technology, cooking food, etc. since all this is un-natural too. What's your take?
[Comment From Athar ]
Well homosexuality is not illegal but prohibited not only in Islam but other major religions like Christianity, hinduism, etc. It is a major factor in rising cases ofHIV/AIDS. So don't know why we are promoting such an evil and that too by using Islam as a scapegoat and displaying it as a backward religion which has not upgraded but in fact it is a way of life decided by the creator (who knows much more than we do) and when HE commands us not to indulge then why do we question it when there are so many scientific proof out there. Parvez why are you trying to show that muslims will have to accept homo stuff, if we want to coexist? What is your take Parvez?
[Comment From McLovin ]
Hi I was wondering how the Muslim community reacts to the fact that you are gay and a Muslim? Considering the fact that homosexuality is illegal in Islam.
[Comment From Deepak ]
Parvez does this reflect your own thought with actors playing it out or are they projecting their own struggles?

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