(Ironically, the oldest son of successor Wallace Deen Mohammed, who died a few years ago, is married to my sister's daughter-in-law. They still reside in Illinois, and last year I interviewed him about his life and work in Islam.) Although the Black Muslims have a different founder, they are Muslims, study the Koran, and adhere to the same orthodox tenets of traditional Islam as founded by the Prophet Mohammed .
Mooz-lum is about orthodox Muslims in America, which include adherents from all races. The action is set in Michigan's Islamic community. Like the Catholics, the community runs and funds its own private schools and enjoy a middle class life among co-religionists. And what occurs in this one parochial school is half the focus of Mooz-lum.
The climax of the film is the 9/11 attack. Everyone becomes unhinged at the university Tariq now attends. We witness some student reaction, but the biggest reaction is from the dean of the school. Dean Francis (Danny Glover) sends out a school-wide memo that puts Muslims on the defensive. Professor Jamal storms Dean Francis' office asking in a: (paraphrasing) "what is the meaning of this? school wide? Are you crazy?" sort of way. The Dean remains smug but it rouses some white bigoted students at the school who decide to maraud and hurt any Muslim they find on campus streets. Alone,Tariq tries to defuse the bigotry and gets help from an unexpected ally. Needless to say the trauma of 9/11 and its impact on the Muslim community brings the family closer. Collectively, they discover the abuse Tariq has suffered as a boy in an emotional reunion that signals a much-needed catharsis for the family and the viewers.
Evan Ross, who plays the adult Tariq emerges out of his shell to reveal an engaging actor and changed man before our eyes. Could this biracial beauty be the next hot pick among film makers and directors? Evan Ross is the son of Diana Ross and Arne Naess. Diana and family made a recent appearance on Oprah. Young Evan has presence, and I predict that he will be in demand following a solid performance that delivers in his first leading role.