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The Lady of Heaven: How a movie on Fathima has exposed Islam’s Shia-Sunni conflict again as theatres in UK surrender before threats

Prophet Mohammad's daughter Fathima is specifically significant to the Shia Muslims since she was married to Ali, whom they see as the genuine heir to the prophet.

The Shia-Sunni divide of the Muslims has now started to mushroom in the United Kingdom. On Sunday, several protestors gathered outside the Bolton Cineworld in Bolton town in the United Kingdom to protest a screening of The Lady of Heaven, a movie based on the life of Fathima, Prophet Mohammad’s daughter.

The topic has gotten considerable attention in the UK, with many people joining either the people demonstrating against the movie or the people seeking to release the movie on a large scale so that everyone can watch it. However, following protests by Muslim organisations against the movie, Cineworld Cinemas has chosen to pull the film from screening in their theatres. Following Cineworld, another movie theatre chain Showcase has also pulled down the movie from its screens in the UK.

Notably, the movie is made by Shia Muslims, and it is being opposed by Sunni Muslims. Several Islamic nations have already banned the movie, including Pakistan and Egypt. Even Shia majority Iran also has outlawed the film’s distribution, claiming that it was intended to divide Muslims. P

As reported by Variety, Sunnis are opposed to the film because it allegedly disrespects Prophet Muhammad, who is portrayed by an actor. According to 5 Pillars UK, an Islamic site, The Lady of Heaven would incite sectarianism among Sunnis and Shias in the United Kingdom.

Enlightened Kingdom Sets 'Lady Of Heaven'; Feature About Lady Fatima,  Daughter Of Muhammad – Cannes – Deadline
Poster of the movie.

Dan Snow, the host of the popular podcast HistoryHit, expressed his dissatisfaction over the withdrawal of the film, saying that the move against the movie is depressing and that now that he is aware of the issue, he will look into it more to know about Fathima. He said, “…The rest of us forced to submit to the arbitrary beliefs of a religious minority. I’d love to see a film about Fatimah, ‘Lady of Light’, thanks to their actions I’m more likely to search it out now.”

Similarly, Iranian writer Maryam Namazie expressed her concerns about the issue. She stated that it is not about Islamophobia or displaying the Prophet’s face, but rather because Sunnis dislike Shia perspectives on issues. She labelled 5 Pillars Uk as an ‘Islamist mouthpiece.’

A petition has also been started on Change.org to disallow the movie from being released in the United Kingdom. The petition, titled “Remove The lady of Heaven from UK cinemas,” has so far received over 122,000 signatures. As the petition reads, “This film has been created to cause heartache for all Muslims as well as spread false information on Islam. The film directly disrespects Prophet Muhammad who is depicted by an actor, deeply shocking and disrespectful to the best of creation. It is also a deeply racist film with all the main negative characters being portrayed by black actors. Furthermore, it also portrays the companions of our Prophet Muhammad in a bad manner.”

“We demand that cinemas remove this film from their screens,” the petition concludes, adding a review of the film labelled “pure, unadulterated sectarian filth.”

About the movie – The Lady of The Heaven

The film presents two narrative lines at the same time, the suffering of an Iraqi youngster who loses his mother during a conflict and the journey of Lady Fathima, Prophet Muhammad’s daughter. The film is produced by the Enlightened Kingdom, a company based in the United Kingdom. The film’s main element is Lady Fathima, Prophet Muhammad’s daughter. The screenplay of the movie is written by Shia Muslim cleric Sheikh Al-Habib and it is directed by Eli King.

Separated by 1400 years, an Iraqi youngster called Laith learns the value and power of patience in a war-torn nation. Following the death of his mother, the kid is placed in a new household, where a compassionate grandmother recounts the historical account of “The Lady” and how her suffering as the first victim of terrorism spiralled out of control into the twenty-first century.

The Lady of Heaven has garnered generally unfavourable reviews from reviewers, with barely minor acclaim, earning a Rotten Tomatoes score of 20%. The movie was dismissed by 5 Pillars, a UK-based Islamic media organisation, as “two hours plus of the most extreme Shia sectarian narratives about how the caliphate was supposedly “usurped” from the Ahl ul Bayt.”

The depiction of Aisha, one of the Prophet Muhammad’s wives, has drawn additional religious criticism.

The film was released in UK theatres on June 3, 2022. It was originally slated for release in 2020, but the release was delayed due to Covid-19 pandemic. Following protests by Muslim organisations against Cineworld theatres, the chain decided to pull the film off screens, which was followed by Showcase.

Who is Lady Fathima?

Fathima, often spelt as Fatimah, is the daughter of Muhammad, the Islamic prophet. Khadijah, the Prophet Muhammad’s wife, gave birth to her. Fatimah was the youngest of the couple’s children, according to Sunni Muslims, although Fatimah was the couple’s sole biological daughter, according to Shia Muslims. Ali, the fourth Rashidun Caliph and the first Shia Imam was Fathima’s spouse. Hasan and Husayn, the second and third Shia Imams, are among Fathima’s children.

Muhammad is believed to have thought of her as the greatest woman of all time and the person he loved the most. Her name remains famous among Muslims across the world. Fatimah has been equated to Mary, Jesus’ mother, particularly among Shia Muslims.

Fathima is particularly significant to the Shia since she was married to Ali, whom they see as the genuine heir to the Prophet Muhammad’s authority and the first of their imams. In 622, Fathima joined Muhammad on his journey from Mecca to Medina. She married Ali, the Prophet’s cousin, soon after arriving in Medina. They spent their early years in terrible poverty. Fathima was present to attend Muhammad as he was confronting his final illness in 632.

Following Muhammad’s death, she had a tense relationship with Abu Bakr, the caliph and leader of the Muslim community (ummah), and Fathima backed Ali in his refusal to submit to Abu Bakr’s authority.

She clashed with the caliph a second time for property she believed Muhammad had left her. Abu Bakr declined to ratify her claim, and Fathima, according to most sources, refused to talk to him after that. She died months later, maybe as a result of disease or injuries.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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