“You know the movie starring Anonio Banderas — The Thirteenth Warrior? It’s a complete gore-fest,” my teacher says. “But in between the gore Antonio gets down on his knees and says ‘Merciful Father….'”
“He’s Catholic, right?” I say. My teacher puts his hand up.
“No, he’s Muslim. So Antonio says this prayer:
I have squandered my days with plans of many things.
This was not among them. But at this moment, I beg only, to live the next few minutes well. For all we ought to have thought and have not thought… All we ought to have said and have not said. All we ought to have done and have not done. I pray thee, God for forgiveness.”
And he’s not Catholic? That’s so Catholic!” I say.
“Dude, Muslims ask forgiveness for sins of omission and commission all the time.”
And I feel like I discovered la ilaha illa allah Muhammadar rasul Allah inside that church with the red stained glass shining on the statue of St. Therese.
Discounting the complete orientalism of the movie, of course.
Just in case you think the movie is all sunshine and happy portrayals of Islam: um, it was based on Michael Chrichton’s Eaters of the Dead. The book is based on the journeys of a man named Ibn Fadlan — who traveled from Baghdad to the Volga River. The actual manuscript of his journey is illuminating. On a side note, the manuscript was the first book I read it college. It was for a Russia and Eurasian studies class. We read it for the descriptions of the early Rus’, who became the Russians. I think another lesson here that many people forget (including myself) is that Eurasia bumps up against (and includes in some definitions) countries like Iran and Afghanistan…who bump up against…..not to mention Islam in Central Asia.
But Eaters of the Dead takes the whole thing to some sort of extreme — basing the first part of the book on the manuscript and the second part on Beowulf? Yes, Antonio Banderas is a good Muslim — but he’s still a stereotype.