Independent Lens: Two Gods

(Rochester, NY) – An intimate documentary about faith, renewal, and healing, Two Gods follows a Muslim casket maker and ritual body washer in Newark, New Jersey, as he takes two young men under his wing to teach them how to live better lives. Independent Lens: Two Gods airs Monday, June 21, 2021 at 10 p.m. on WXXI-TV.

In the city of East Orange, New Jersey, a casket shop stands on the corner. Inside, casket makers work in the Islamic burial tradition. Hanif, a Black Muslim casket maker who finds spiritual grounding in his work, brings two boys from the local community under his tutelage; 12-year-old Furquan and 17-year-old Naz. Hanif teaches Furquan and Naz the practices of Islamic burial rituals as they assist him with his work. The film follows his efforts to show the young boys that they can seek out more from their lives. Having formerly served time in prison, Hanif continues to grapple with past mistakes and present challenges, finding purpose in his faith and religious community, and guiding his young charges on their own paths toward healing and embracing life. 

Shot in black-and-white, Two Gods explores the juxtaposition of grief and the rituals of death with the vibrancy and potential of coming-of-age. The film also turns an empathetic lens on Muslim American stories, ultimately crafting a moving portrait of both the intimate moments and the complexities of the everyday Muslim American experience.  

Photo: Hanif Muhammad stands for prayer in Ramadan and turns to God for help amidst all the hardships he has been facing 
Credit: Courtesy of Zeshawn Ali

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