Between Allah and Me (and Everyone Else) (educational)

    • Directed and Produced by: Kyoko Yokoma
    • Released: 2016 
Running Time: 60 min 
Language:  English with English and French Subtitles, Closed Captioned 
Subjects: Religious Studies, Women's Studies, Multicultural StudiesSociology

No dress code inspires more debate than that of Muslim women. In North America, the way a Muslim woman dresses is her personal choice, but that choice, which includes whether or not to wear hijab to cover her hair, is often met with both approval and criticism. The film Between Allah & Me (and Everyone Else) explores the challenges of Farida, Shaila, Naima, and Sarah, four Torontonian Muslim women making decisions about their personal dress codes. When these women decide to start or stop wearing hijab, they cannot foresee the range of reactions other people will have to their choices. The film follows the women’s personal journeys and their interactions with different members of society, and in doing so reveals that the piece of fabric called hijab carries many diverse meanings and messages. As these women try to follow their faith and their hearts at the same time, the film unveils the intricate and complex effects of hijab on Muslim women, their families and communities, and the larger multicultural society in which they live.

Reviews / Quotes:

“[Kyoko] truly crafted a documentary… We saw fascinating character arcs and felt quite close to your characters…  film that should travel to festivals and beyond.” – Marc Glassman, Film critic, publisher and professor, Ryerson University, MFA in Documentary Media program

 “Between Allah and Me not only deals with a timely topic, but one that has great personal relevance to me. I applaud those courageous women that agreed to be in the film and share their stories. Their honesty was touching, their words were insightful, and their struggle resonated with me and others, I’m sure. It certainly offers a great springboard for conversation about hijab and Muslim women.” – Saira Rahman, Filmmaker, “Arctic Mosque”

"Toronto filmmaker Kyoko Yokoma interviews four women who wear the hijab in this nonjudgmental documentary. Farida, who is of Turkish decent, grew up in Russia at a time when the state discouraged religious expression, so she’s been trying to make up for lost time. She studies the Qur’an and prays five times a day, although her mother doesn’t see the point of the hijab. Farida also trades in her short-sleeved tops and above-the-knee skirts for more modest apparel. When she attended Islamic school as child, Shaila felt like a sinner until her mother bought her a hijab. After wearing it for 20 years, she has now entered politics, and decides that it doesn’t feel right anymore, so she only wears the hijab for special occasions. As she puts it, “I feel that Allah can read my heart, and that's what Islam is to me”. At the beginning of the film, Naima, a student, believes that wearing the Hijab is the right thing to do — although she isn’t sure the it’s mandatory, since religious scholars disagree on the point —but she comes to the same conclusion as Shaila, and stops wearing it. Since she wore the hijab for four years, those when know her express surprise, but she assures them that her beliefs haven’t changed. Her friend, Sarah, has her mother’s support for wearing the hijab, but her secular father criticizes the practice, calling it a relic from an earlier era. By allowing her subjects to speak for themselves, Yokoma offers viewers who are interested in religion and gender studies much food for thought in this documentary that is sure to provoke discussion. Recommended." - Video Librarian