Movie: Change Of Heart, Exposing Muslim Marriage

change of heart movie film review muslim marriage converts
Change of Heart, a short movie about convert Muslim marriages, exposes the fragility of human ideals

*Warning, contains spoilers

West Dawn Media, established in 2010 by Jonathan Abdilla, has created a nugget of movie gold for Muslim audiences. Focusing on typical problems that arise within Muslim marriage, the film opens up questions surrounding what happens when two convert Muslims with not-as-Islamic backgrounds, enter into a Muslim marriage. Change of Heart was officially publicised over the summer and made viral through the West Dawn Media YouTube channel where the movie is available to watch in full.

The Plot
Change Of Heart opens with a walking conversation between a Muslim couple, Maryam and Nour. They have the kindness in their speech of a newly wed and have bonded enough to show some time has passed. They're comfortable with each other, they exude 'muslimness' in their appearance. However, there's a glitch. A glitch that turns into a nightmarish regret, particularly for the husband.

change of heart movie film review muslim marriage convertsBumping into an old friend from before he converted to Islam, Nour is told some unsavoury news by Kevin about his wife. What was a typical and acceptable dating lifestyle for the non-Muslim woman, has become a tainted background for the convert wife Maryam. "It's cool, she's changed now", says Kevin, nonchalantly. But Nour only hears "she used to get around, if you know what I mean."

At one of two confrontations, Maryam pleads, "but you knew I wasn't practising (Islam) when I was younger, why are you doing this?" And therein lies the dilemma.

The Ugly Truth
As the movie unfolds, we hear two sides to the convert argument. When a person chooses to accept Islam and become Muslim, essentially his or her background is swiped clean like a formatted hard-drive. Muslims believe past sins are forgiven by the permission of God, and a future of potential and growth awaits. But as Maryam in the movie beautifully notes to her young sister, and is the key that binds the past and present of our lives,

"You know how I say Allah is the most merciful and can forgive all sins?. Well, sometimes, even if Allah forgives a person of their sins - that sin can still affect them in this life."

The ugly truth is in trying to understand a convert's background. How much should he or she share with new founded relationships? Is it fair for a husband or wife to want to know every gritty detail about their partners' past?

change of heart movie film review muslim marriage converts
Who's loving you? Maryam is left feeling like a 'ho' for her dating background

And this is what Nour, the "betrayed" husband argues with his tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee friends. One friend jokes with the popular quick-fix, "look, you're having problems with one wife, so what you do is, get another wife and just try to solve it from there, right?"

As a representative of Muslim men, Nour defends his non-Muslim background against his wife. His justification? "It's not the same, it's different for guys". Different. Different how? Different where? This is the area I wanted Change Of Heart to explore deeper. What are his reasons as a Muslim to leave his wife for "her reputation"? Is it hurt, betrayal, dishonesty or all of the above?

We're given two extremes of marital expectations that exist in contemporary Muslim marriages. One is of extreme hope, the other of intense regret. After the revelation of her past the husband instantaneously leaves his wife, and yet he entered the marriage with ideals: "She's like the perfect wife, she even helps me with my deen."

Where's My Apology?
Just over 19 minutes long, there is only so much dialogue a short film can contain. I find myself mentally asking for more script during the stretched-out pauses. I'm asking for an argument between the couple, for more movement, more emotion. More.

A tipping point arrives when during the second confrontation, Maryam demands for her husband to speak about his issues. We see the heartbreak of a man who idolised his wife to the point of denying she could make a mistake. Ex-boyfriends, alcohol and a non-Muslim lifestyle is incomprehensible to this devout Muslim man who, like any other man, loves his wife for her good qualities, not her one-night stands. "It kills me to even think about it." I can sympathise.

But when faced again with his own non-Muslim past, he refutes with gender disparities. He does not even apologise, which was the climactic scene I expected in order for his redemption. I'm relieved that Maryam's character finally says what's in my head:

"How is it different for a guy? Is it different in the sight of Allah?"

A message, truly, for all Muslims. Watch Change Of Heart in full here:

Link to video {}

Images:: Intellectual property of West Dawn Media ©

See more behind the scenes 

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