Little Mosque on the Prairie is a weekly sitcom made in Canada by WestWind Pictures. Set in the fictional Saskatchewan town of Mercy, the series takes a humorous look at the struggles of members of a small Muslim community as they meet the challenge of peacefully co-existing with their Christian neighbours. Naturally, troubles ensue as the Muslim place of worship is located in a rented space in the local Anglican church. Values and traditions collide, misunderstandings abound, competitions arise and yet the residents of Mercy find ways to go about their everyday lives while embracing, or at least tolerating, beliefs that often differ from their own.
Little Mosque on the Prairie was created by Muslim writer Zarqa Narwaz, who is of Pakistani origin, born in Britain and raised in Canada, while she was living in Regina and observing the lives of members of a religious minority. Filmed in Toronto and in Indian Head, Sask, the show premiered on CBC Television in 2007 to an audience of more than two million viewers.
East Meets West on the Prairie
The characters in Little Mosque range from hijab-wearing feminist doctor Rayyan Hamoudi (Sitara Hewitt) to the redneck radio show host Fred Tupper (Neil Crone), whose crush on Muslim café owner Fatima Dinssa (Arlene Duncan) is met by her no-nonsense sarcasm and rejection. Amaar Rashid (Zaib Shaikh), the mosque’s young imam, is a liberal Islamist and often finds his progressive ideas up against those of one of the mosque’s staunchest members, Baber Siddiqui (Manoj Sood), who has a tendency to rant and conspires to make things go his way, whatever it takes. Baber’s teenage daughter Layla (Aliza Velani) is determined to defy strict Muslim rules of conduct that her father tries to enforce — on everyone — as she spends time with other kids her own age, and Sarah (Sheila McCarthy) and Yasir Hamoudi (Carlo Rota) are a happily married couple who attend the mosque although their daily concerns are more practical than religious.
While it was Derek McGrath’s easygoing and lovable Reverend McGee who came up with the idea of renting church premises to the Muslims, his replacement Reverend Thorne (Brandon Firla of The Office) would like nothing better than to build his Christian flock enough to squeeze out the mosque. Mayor Ann Popowicz (Debra McGrath) is supportive of Mercy’s Muslim residents, but not out of a sense of religious acceptance; she is more concerned with keeping her voters for the next election.
In both one-time and recurring roles, the cast is rounded out by a number of characters played by actors familiar to Canadian viewers. Guest stars have included Tom Jackson, Andrea Martin, Colin Mochrie, Dave Foley, Wayne Robson, Geri Hall, Barbara Gordon, Ron MacLean and Jayne Eastwood, who plays Anglican church lady Mrs Wispinski in the third and fourth seasons of the series.
The series has won numerous awards both nationally and internationally.
Learn more: Little Mosque on the Prairie