Aziz Ansari on Being Raised Muslim and ‘Master of None’ Episode on Religion

By Tyler Ross [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
By Tyler Ross [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
After mostly avoiding discussing religion in his public life, the comedian has recently opened up.

Aziz Ansari, the star comedian, never highlighted his religion during the course of his career: he was raised as a Muslim. In fact, in some way or the other, he avoided the topic altogether, deciding to concentrate on romantic relationships, food, and the vagaries of the Internet.

Aziz Ansari on Being Raised Muslim and ‘Master of None’ Episode on Religion[/tweetthis]

Ansari, however, did bring up religion in June 2016. He wrote an op-ed in the New York Times and was outright critical about President Donald J. Trump and the latter's rhetoric concerning Muslims. The criticism continued on Saturday Night Live program held in January this year, the day post Trump's inauguration. Ansari’s latest take on being a Muslim[/tweetit] is through his fictional character, Dev, in the third episode of Master of None's new season. The series went on Netflix screens during the second week of May. This particular episode was named Religion.

The start of the Religion episode pans to a number of resistant children being dragged by parents to places of worship spanning several religions. The camera then zooms onto Dev, his character. Viewers are introduced to his childhood, where he first discovers the taste of bacon and they see how he falls in love with the food. They also know that Dev, being a Muslim, is not allowed to eat pork or any pork products. The serial is a personal and sweeping portrayal of Dev with the religion of his parents.

“Religion” stars his real-life parents as reel parents- father Shoukath Ansari and mother Fatima Ansari. The story is loosely based on Aziz's personal experiences as a bacon-loving Muslim kid growing up in South Carolina. The story goes on until he reaches adulthood when during a life-changing dinner, Dev-Ansari's character- reveals his pork-loving side to his family. Drama ensues as a natural progression. According to Ansari, this episode was his way of bringing Islam-centric humor to the American mainstream.

Dev also explains to his family, how being a Muslim was different for him compared to his parents' generation. His older relatives regard Islam as a culture. For Dev, it was unknown people calling him a terrorist and being pulled out for special inspection for no reason.

Ansari has a point when he says that being a Muslim-American carries a lot of baggage. When people think anything about “Muslim,”, the image embedded in their minds is not of Nobel Prize winners like Malala Yousafzai or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Non-Muslims imagine every Muslim like characters from Homeland or similar.


Follow the Conversation on Twitter