So I watched the movie Khuda Key Liyey by Shoaib Mansoor mainly because of all the controversies it has created in Pakistan. I see where people or molvis in particular might have had an objection against certain elements in the movie such as maybe the swearing in the movie, or maybe some controversial scenes like Iman Ali shown lying on a white guy’s lap to show that they are dating and are in a relationship but more importantly i think the one scene that might have gotten most of the attention and criticism has to be the final speech by Naseer-ud-din shah which questioned how we portray Islam to be, like how the man should dress or how we should keep beards or the more radical parts of Islam and he put things in perspective which some Molvis who follow Islam stricly would have a problem with.

Sarmad (Fawad Khan of the Lahore-based band EP) and Mansoor (Shaan) are two brothers living on a farmhouse, sailing through life with effortless ease on the wings of their musical band. But vice enters their peaceful world in the form of extremism when Sarmad, the younger brother, visits a religious hardliner and gets influenced by his convoluted, misinterpreted, Taliban-like version of Islamic teachings. While Mansoor remains happy-go-lucky, Sarmad becomes a target of confusion and inner conflict (and perfect prey for extremist elements) by shunning music, asking his mother to wear the hijab and eventually becoming a bearded, born-again Muslim.

The other track of storyline revolves around Maryam (Iman Ali) a British-born girl of Pakistani origin. Her father Hussain Shah cannot tolerate the fact that his daughter is dating a white boy (Dave) who is outside their faith despite spending his own life seeing Christian white women (one of whom lives with him out of wedlock). He disapproves of Maryam’s relationship and tries to stop her. In doing so, Hussain Shah is hypocrisy personified. He also hasn’t seen his family in over 30 years, and is nowhere near being a practicing Muslim but wants the opposite for his daughter. He tricks her into visiting Pakistan after discovering that Sarmad and Mansoor are his nephews.

In Pakistan, he pleads with his elder brother (Naeem Tahir) to save him and his daughter from the disgrace of a Christian son-in-law. His request is turned down by Shaan who has left for the Chicago Music School. It is then that he hatches an evil plan by appealing to the so-called Muslim honour of Sarmad who agrees to be a party to it.

Shaan had to be given some importance in the film. Therefore, he falls in love with a fellow musician at the college and romance blooms. After a brief argument over marriage citing cultural differences, he agrees to marry his gori girlfriend. Now the film takes a very interesting turn. In Pakistan, at the same time when Hussain Shah is acting out his plan, in the US, 9/11 happens. It is then that hardships for Maryam and Mansoor begin. The weak-spined Sarmad’s inner conflict that has been plaguing him begins surfacing in spurts as he is dragged to take part in jihad in Afghanistan.

When it comes to acting performances, Iman Ali and Fawad Khan steal the show from right under the experienced noses of every other actor, save Naseerddin Shah. Shaan simply pales in comparison. Iman Ali turns in a convincing performance as a girl brought up with western values but catapulted to the remote tribal areas of Pakistan. She successfully emotes through her eyes the feelings of anger, helplessness and occasional delight. In one scene where hope and disillusionment follow each other within a span of five minutes, her character shines like that of a seasoned actor. Subtle, strong and highly sensitive, she takes viewers on an emotional rollercoaster ride.

Fawad Khan’s character as a weak-willed Sarmad was also extremely difficult to portray but he manages to bring out his character’s inner conflict on to the screen with effortless ease. He gives a vibrant touch to the shades of grey of Sarmad’s persona. On the contrary, Shaan remains a prisoner of his own cinematic image… mediocre, loud and completely out of depth of his character. He becomes the weakest link in the film when he remains energetic and six-pack sculpted under severe torture by the US authorities.

Possible reasons for controversies

“It’s a film about an ordinary girl going through strange situations,” Iman Ali reveals. “I’m hoping for comfort in this film.” She does add that Khuda Key Liye has answered a lot of confusions regarding religion. It has answered the dilemma of blind faith for her, something she admits to be struggling to understand. “It will be controversial but it’s great that Shoaib Mansoor had the guts to tackle such a sensitive issue. I’m happy to be part of it no matter how many problems it might create for me.”

In the last speech by Naseer uddin Shah, he mentioned that Islam does not tell us that we HAVE to keep beards, but rather its a sunnah which we should follow and his exact words were, “Deen mein darhi (beard) hey.. magar darhi (beard) mein deen nahi”, which is true because in the end its a sunnah and we should try to follow the steps of the Prophet (PBUH) but it is still not obligatory in our religion to keep a beard or the fact that we wear pants instead of the traditional shalwar kameez or arabic clothing. He made a good point as well which I might have to agree with as he said that are you going to go to Alaska and tell the people over there that if you convert to Islam, you’re gonna have to put your pants above your ankles and let your ankles freeze? No, you are not, they are entitled to be Muslims without wearing shalwar kameez or the arab clothing because it is impossible for them to wear such clothing in Alaska or even here in Canada which is true. I don’t think Islam would limit us to wearing certain clothing which is more based on culture as it is hot in the arab areas of the world which is one of the reasons why they dress the way they do.

One other topic that caught attention was when they mentioned the point regarding people reading 5 prayers a day but on the other hand not following the rest of the Islam as in being a nice person or helping other people out which I have to agree with as well to a certain extent, because a Muslim person is not only one who will read five prayers a day but also help out the others in their community and be a nice person over all and yes, reading namaz is one of the most crucial aspects of Islam and they do mention that as well that people still have to read namaz but also be a nice person as well and be helping towards others.

One other thing that they did mention was about music in Islam, they mentioned in the movie that it was permissible but they should have also mentioned that it is permissible to an extent and not completely permissible. They should have mentioned that music is only good to a point where it is used to reach to people and not about the other stuff we listen to every day like love songs and all the hip hop music.

The other thing it talks about is the right of a women in Islam to pick their husband, they mention in the movie how women should have a right to agree and say that she is ok with marrying the guy which I think is true as well hence the reason why we ask three times if the girl accepts the guy or not, we wouldn’t do that if there was no purpose to it but in the movie it is shown as if the girl could marry someone outside of Islam which is wrong. A guy is the only one who can marry someone who is not Muslim as long as they are the believer of the books but a girl can not, but they pretty much said that the girl in the movie was not really a muslim so we can’t really stop her which I believe is wrong because that will just push the feeling in women that they are alright to think that they can marry someone outside of Islam if they think that they are not good muslims which should not be the factor.

Overall, I believe that was the only point that I felt was really wrong but other than that I think it made good points which would help reduce muslim vs. muslim violence that we see everyday such as molvis getting killed by military or vice versa, which is not acceptable in Islam at all and they showed that as well in the movie how the war in Afghanishtan was in the end between Muslims vs. Muslims and they brought up a good point, that this is not how Islam describes Jihad.


A movie like this will obviously create controversies and I think it was meant to do so. There are always different ideas that we believe in, even if we go to two Imams, we will learn about Islam in two different perspectives. This movie, by Shoaib Mansoor has tried to change the overall quality of the Pakistani movie production and tried to promote Pakistani cinema. No one is forced to believe in any idea that anyone gives us but rather take difference perspectives of life and create your own interpretation. The movie had more of a liberal stance also to get rid of the misinterpretations in Non-muslims who might believe that a woman has no right in Islam or that we have to be dressed like Osama Bin Laden to be Muslims or that we don’t enjoy music, the main purpose of this movie was to let others know that we are just like all the other human beings in this world.

Any opinions, or the ideologies in this article are the sole belief and opinion of the author and does not reflect the opinion of DesiVibe.