Journey To Mecca - About

  • Script

    Co-Writer, Tahir Shah

    "My family is from the East and the West," says Tahir Shah, the renowned author of more than a dozen books including ‘In Arabian Nights’, ‘The Caliph’s House’ and ‘A Year in Casablanca’. "After 9/11, I think that there’s a responsibility to show the East to the West, and the West to the East. Journey to Mecca became very important to me because that’s exactly what it is doing."

    Shah had always known about the story of Ibn Battuta. "It had always been a favorite, a slice of history." Shah reinterpreted Bruce Neibaur’s original script, keeping the main story, but heightening the characters’ emotions.

    As a former travel writer, Shah empathized with Ibn Battuta. "I think he’s there inside all of us as a dreamer. Look how far his dreams took him. I think the Highwayman is inside all of us as well. He’s the man who questions faith, who at the same time is a father figure to Ibn Battuta. I think he understood Ibn Battuta when Ibn Battuta couldn’t understand himself. There is sensitivity between the Highwayman and Ibn Battuta because Ibn Battuta needed the Highwayman more than the Highwayman needed him. But at the end, they were both affected by each other. That makes for a very powerful story. You have two divergent people, who, in the end, change each other.We built in dramatic transformation, and both Ibn Battuta and our fictional Highwayman are changed by this journey.”

    "I think that 14th century Mecca and 21st century Mecca will intercut beautifully. There’s one reason why. It is not about what Mecca looks like, it is not about the faces, it is about the spirit of the people who are performing the Hajj. The Hajj is a time of being on a pilgrimage to Mecca to perform the rites, and the feelings of Muslims when they’re in Mecca. Your body is there but your mind is with God and that’s a very difficult thing to explain to Westerners.”

    I think the Eastern World and the Western World will see completely different things in the film. For the Orient it will be a celebration of faith and of an icon, an incredibly important Muslim traveler. The extent of his travels is mesmerizing. At the same time, I think the West will learn from this film, because, in a subtle way, they will receive an understanding of what Islam is about, more than they have now. I think we can all learn from each other.”