The Message: The Story of Islam narrates the challenging conception of the Islamic religion. The story is depicted in a biopic way that elucidates the life of the prophet Muhammad. However, The Message diverges from the typical Hollywood biopic in the sense that it focuses less on Muhammad and his personal history but, rather, his effect on the city of Mecca and those around him. The film essentially portrays the historical and religious transition of a city instead of Muhammad, himself as a character within the city. Additionally, in honoring the Islamic tradition of not portraying a Muhammad character, the film never depicts the most significant character: Muhammad. Instead, his prophetic story is uniquely told through the implications of Muhammad’s life and the various effects he had on the city.
Primarily, The Message depicts the story of Islam through the perspective of those that were affected by Muhammad’s prophecy. For example, Muhammad’s prophecy became extremely controversial in the city of Mecca among the elite. Muhammad was, specifically, attributed to dividing the city because the residents and elite of Mecca felt threatened by Muhammad’s religious preaching that contradicted the established tradition of multiple, tangible Gods throughout the city. Muhammad was preaching a prophecy of one God and this, therefore, led to extreme dissent and discomfort within the city’s nobles. As a result, conflicts naturally ensued within the city to confine Muhammad’s message. The film depicted conflicts within families as people became divided as to what to believe in and who to defend. Additionally, the film depicted multiple examples of harsh punishments for those who followed and preached Muhammad’s word. One scene, in particular, was extremely barbaric as a person was vividly whipped in punishment for denouncing multiple gods. These city conflicts epitomize Muhammad’s effect and the implication of the Islamic religion. In this sense, the story of Islam is depicted through extreme martyrdom effectively showing the overarching effect of Muhammad’s word. As told through the reactions of the city of Mecca, the Islamic religion is born amongst avid dissent that, ultimately, epitomizes the inception of Islam. In this way, the film is different from the usual Hollywood biopic because the primary focus of the narration lies among reactions and consequences of those in the city, thus illustrating the narrative in a more implicit fashion.
Additionally, the film never actually shows the character Muhammad in order to abide by religious tradition. In this way, the character of Muhammad becomes almost an enigma capable of inciting extensive change throughout the city. While typical Hollywood biopics intentionally elucidate the story of a particular character, The Message uniquely relies on the surrounding, contextual story to chronicle Muhammad’s legacy. For example, when Muhammad’s followers travel to Medina in the latter half of the film they patiently await his delayed arrival into the city. The film depicts a mass of people eagerly awaiting his arrival by looking over trees and sitting at the city’s entrance. Although Muhammad isn’t shown, the cheering and extreme exuberance that suddenly ignites ultimately signifies Muhammad’s presence. In this way, without the physical representation of Muhammad, the film uses the reactions of Muhammad’s followers to epitomize the great following Muhammad has gained throughout the course of the film. In this way, the film suggests that the Islamic religion has essentially become legitimized and significantly backed, therefore implying the progression of the Islamic narrative. Ultimately, this film is notable because it tells the story of Islam in a more indirect way.