Little Mosque creator Zarqa Nawaz on finding the funny in Islam

Zarqa Nawaz is the creator of CBC sitcom Little Mosque on the Prairie, a show which told the story of a small Muslim community in Saskatchewan. (Fabiola Carletti/CBC)


Journalist and documentarian Zarqa Nawaz has spent her career trying to bridge cultural gaps -- a passion born of personal experience. Her silliness and irreverence haven't always gone over well in Muslim communities, and her religious beliefs haven't always been well-received in secular circles. 

Now Nawaz, who is best known as the creator of CBC sitcom Little Mosque On The Prairie, has released an autobiographical collection of stories: Laughing All The Way to the Mosque. Her book, like her show, tries to speak to two audiences, making Islam understandable for non-Muslims, while honestly representing the Muslim experience. 

She joins Jian to speak about inhabiting the space between cultures, how comedy can foster cross-cultural understanding in a post 9/11 world, and why she felt there was a need for her quotidian memoir.

"Whenever you read a Muslim woman's memoir, she's either been shot by the Taliban or kidnapped by Somali pirates. This is probably the first Muslim woman's memoir about growing up in the suburbs," she tells Jian. "My slogan is, 'I am boring.'"  

As the children of immigrant parents, Jian and Zarqa found a lot of common ground. You can't even rebel and do it well, jokes Zarqa. (Fabiola Carlett/CBC)

Me and the Mosque 

One of Nawaz's earlier works, Me and the Mosque, takes a more serious look at Canadian Muslim women's relationship with Islam's place of worship. (She jokes that her new goal is to stop creating projects with "mosque" in the title.) 

You can watch the whole documentary in the window embedded below. 

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