Little Mosque on the Prairie

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Nothing separates men and women like Hockey Night in Canada.
Baber Siddiqui

This comedy series is about a small community of Muslims living in a small town in western Canada. The series opens with Amaar Rashid leaving his job as a lawyer in Toronto to become the imam for the Muslim community in the small town of Mercy, Saskatchewan.

The comedy comes as much from the interactions among the various members of the Muslim community, Shi'a and Sunni, Arab and African, as from their interaction with the members of the Christian community of Mercy and between Amaar's big-city ideas and the locals' small-town values.

Based on series creator Zarqa Nawaz's experiences living in a small town in western Canada.

Tropes used in Little Mosque on the Prairie include:
  • Aborted Declaration of Love: Debatable. This might apply when Fred thought he was dying. He started to tell Fatima that he loved something, found out he wasn't dying, and then, rather obviously redirected and said that he loved some sort of food that she served.
  • Absentee Actor: Due to Carlo Rota's other commitments, Yasir was written as caring for his sick mother in Lebanon for much of the fourth and fifth seasons.
  • Adorkable: Yousef is tall, handsome, and muscular. However, he becomes adorkable due to his gentleness and good-natured willingness to please everyone.
    • And his new shirt.
  • Aesop Amnesia: When will Rayyan learn she shouldn't meddle?
  • Altar the Speed: Rayyan and Amaar end up planning their wedding in something like a week because Yasir unexpectedly gets the chance to visit on short notice.
  • And Zoidberg: "The mosque's constitution was written by our wise founding fathers. And Faisal."
  • Arranged Marriage: In the second season Yasir suggests that his daughter Rayyan marry the son of one of his good friends; after a period of getting to know one another the two do get engaged. Just about avoids being a Perfectly Arranged Marriage because Rayyan has no problem with the idea of an arranged marriage in the first place, pointing out that the final decision will always be hers.
  • The Boxing Episode: "Gloves Will Keep Us Together" revolves around a boxing match between Amaar and Rev. Thorne.
  • The Bus Came Back: Reverend Magee returns for the Christmas Episode at the beginning of Season 5. He also returns again for a few episodes at the end of the season, and Yasir and Layla return for the finale.
  • Canada, Eh?: Of the small-town rural variety. Imagine Corner Gas with Muslims.
  • Call Back: In a season 5 episode a character objects to Mercy being called a "one horse town" because they have seven horses. A season later, almost the same conversation occurs but Sarah says they're not even a one horse town "since the glue factory opened".
  • Calvin Ball: The Game of Thorne's
  • Centipede's Dilemma: Sarah spends all day accidentally insulting people after Fatima asks her how she always knows the right thing to say.
  • Chastity Couple: Rayyan and Amaar have no physical contact at all until they finally marry in the season 5 finale.
  • Christmas Episode: "It's A Wonderful Eid" and "A Holiday Story"
  • Clark Kenting: Fatima is frustrated by this trope. "Why does no-one recognize me without my hijab? I am the only black woman in Mercy!"
  • Comically Missing the Point: Nate, when Amaar points out that his advice on how to dance the hora isn't going to be much use at Amaar's wedding - "no hora? You might as well not have a rabbi!"
    • The season five opener had a local woman chide Reverend Thorne for angrily calling Mercy, Saskatchewan a one-horse town filled with morons and imbeciles; she'd pointed out that there were seven horses and one of them was due to foal soon.
  • Converting for Love: Sarah converted to Islam in order to marry Yasir.
  • Cultural Translation: Has been picked up by Fox with plans to adapt the series into an American setting.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: When his schemes to get rid of Amaar and the mosque are finally beaten for good, Thorne throws himself into becoming BFFs with Amaar instead.
  • Derailing Love Interests: By the time Amaar realizes he loves Rayyan she's engaged to JJ, with whom she has a solid, loving relationship... right up to the point where he breaks up with her during their wedding vows.
  • The Ditz: Nate. (*poking himself with a drinking straw* "Ow, my looking-eye!")
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: When Fred "betrays" Fatima by eating at another diner, it's treated like romantic infidelity.
  • Fake Nationality: Few of the Arab characters are played by actual Arabs.
    • Fairly well averted in the main cast, though. The nine main characters consist of four white people, a Nigerian, an Indian, two Arabs, and one half-white/half-Arab. Only Italian-British Carlo Rota as Lebanese-Canadian Yasir is playing across race.
  • Fish Out of Water: Amaar, at the beginning of the show.
  • Flanderization: Baber used to be a devout Muslim who usually but not always realised the others thought of him as old-fashioned and conservative but didn't care. Following what he believed to be the rules of Islam was one of the most important things, besides his daughter, to him. Now, he's all about being conservative. The implication he's not conservative is now worse than the implication he's not a faithful Muslim, which is all kinds of wrong.
  • Foe Yay: Thorne and Amaar, full stop.
  • Fully-Clothed Nudity: The plot of one episode revolves around JJ's jealousy when he finds out Amaar has (accidentally, for a few seconds) seen Rayyan's hair. The women at Rayyan's bachelorette party -- who have removed their hijabs as it's a female-only party -- scream and hide when a delivery man walks in.
  • Funny Background Event: During Anne and Charles's wedding, during the kiss, Baber tries to cover Layla's eyes.
  • Golden Mean Fallacy: In one episode, Mercy's Muslim community was divided (again): the more liberal members of the congregation wanted men and women to pray together in the same room, while the more conservative members insisted that a wall be erected between the men and women's prayer spaces. Amaar, the imam, erected a wall that stretched halfway across the room, so the conservative-minded men could pray in front of it with the conservative-minded women behind it, while the liberal congregants would pray on the wall-less side of the room. Neither faction was pleased (but it was a typical Canadian solution).
  • Heel Face Turn: Reverend Thorne, after a season of being blatantly antagonistic to Amaar and the Muslims, starts acting nice to them due to his keen sense of self-preservation. (He realizes that his parishoners like the Muslims, and his superiors do, too.) But after a time, he comes around himself, and becomes a genuine friend to Amaar, even attending his wedding, and being considered for Best Man.
    • In much the same way, the whole town undergoes a similar change. Once they get to know the Muslims and their ways, the Christians genuinely like them. Even Joe, whose panicked call to the terror hotline started the series, befriends Rayyan and Baber, and attends Amaar's bachelor party with no fuss made about it.
  • Horrible Camping Trip: Not only do Nate, Baber, Faisal and Fred gatecrash Amaar's solo retreat in the woods, they leave the tents and food behind. Trying to get help leaves Amaar lost in the woods all night.
  • Hot Librarian: Rose.
  • It's Personal: Played with when Reverend Magee beats Baber in a Koran quiz and the two of them have a fight over it: on accepting a rematch, Magee declares that this time it's personal, but Baber points out it was personal for him the first time, too. "Seriously, my feelings were hurt."
  • Jerkass: Fred Tupper was the original Jerkass of the show, but he's been mostly replaced by Reverend Thorne. Both of them get fairly regular Jerk with a Heart of Gold moments.
  • Large Ham: Thorne ("By the band-aids of Lazarus!"), though Yasir has his moments.
  • Last-Minute Hookup: Amaar and Rayyan finally confessed their attraction to each other in the last two minutes of the final episode of the fourth season. Although their romance carries on throughout season 5, they don't actually kiss until the very last scene of the finale.
  • Local Hangout: Fatima's.
  • Lysistrata Gambit: The women pull this (and discuss it by name) in an early episode, though Sarah in particular finds it tough going.
  • Comedy of Errors: Averted: Fatima overhears a conversation between Rayyan and JJ -- "why not do it now, we're gonna do it after the wedding anyway..." "after the wedding, I want to do it right in front of my parents!" -- and correctly guesses that they're talking about when they should open their wedding presents.
  • Mistaken for Terrorist: From the first episode: Amaar is talking to his mom over the cellphone at the airport. With this dialogue, it's somewhat understandable they were mistaken:

"I don't care if dad thinks this is suicide. I'm on a mission from god. It's not like a dropped a bomb on him."

  • My God, What Have I Done?: Even Fred Tupper has his moments of regret.
  • Naked People Trapped Outside: Rayyan gets locked out of the house during her bachelorette party - in a variation of the trope, she's actually fully clothed, but her hair is uncovered and her dress is knee-length and sleeveless. Hilarity Ensues as she hides in the back of the pizza guy's car and ends up stuck in the woods in the middle of a paintball game.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Fred Tupper's radio show is a non-too-subtle parody of The O'Reilly Factor and various other political talk shows hosted by right-wing blowhards.
  • Noodle Incident: The Wispinski incident.
  • Odd Couple: Reverend Magee and Amaar, and later Thorne and Babar.
  • Oddly-Named Sequel 2: Electric Boogaloo: Parodied by Amaar.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Related to Fake Nationality, there are lines when the actors' accents slip slightly.
    • Baber, who has to rant long, loud, and passionately in a truly exaggerated accent, is particularly prone to this.
  • Overprotective Dad: Babar towards his daughter, Layla.
  • Paintball Episode: Amaar's bachelor party.
  • The Password Is Always Swordfish: Subverted: Rayyan tries to get into Amaar's voicemail trying obvious codes like "Amaar" and "Islam" but gives up when she realizes it's not going to work. Double Subverted when at the end of the episode Amaar enters in his password: Rayyan.
  • Pretend Prejudice: Fred Tupper regularly rants about Muslims (often accusing them of being terrorists) on his radio show but has no problem with: Going to a Muslim doctor, watching a football game with a room full of Muslims, and eating halal food from a Muslim-owned cafe. In fact, he seems to have something of a friendship with Fatima, the cafe-owner. He's certainly shown that he cares about her.
    • Justified, in that he really doesn't hate them... for their religion. A flashback episode shows that he started as a radio host who was looking for a subject he could use repeatedly. Fatima herself suggests talking about Muslims, to which (to paraphrase Fred) he replies: "Interesting, but what would be my angle? I mean, am I for ya or against ya?" (somewhat jokingly). Cue Babar entering the diner and introducing himself by grabbing Fred from behind, causing his coffee to spill all over himself. "Never mind, I think I know". It's clearly played for laughs, and no one really believes it. Keep in mind that Baber himself is the most conservative of the Muslims on the show, and yet has no problem being in the company of most of the cast (including liberal Muslims and non-Muslims).
  • Put on a Bus: At the beginning of Season 4, it is revealed that Reverend Magee left Mercy to do service in the North, prompting the arrival of Reverend Thorne.
    • To a lesser extent, JJ. He was a series regular in Seasons 2 and 3, but he left Rayyan at the altar on their wedding day and was never seen again.
  • Rule of Three: "You're staying in Mercy!? You could go to Toronto or Vancouver....or Iraq!"
  • Ship Tease: The show has teased semi-Crack Pairings Fred/Fatima and Baber/Fatima.
    • The former once had a full episode devoted to a subplot where Fred eating at a competitor's restaurant was akin to cheating (funnily enough, he tries to pass a pie stain of as lipstick, knowing that Fatima will be more tolerant of him fooling around with a woman than eating pie from that restaurant). He gives her chocolates in an attempt to atone, she packs up a box of his stuff, at one point crying, he's convinced not to eat a non-halal hot dog by the local preacher (note that he's not Muslim) and to keep trying to fix the relationship, and eventually, he wins her back by making a public apology on his radio station. Oh, and in one episode (possibly the same one), Fred reacts like a jealous lover when she starts giving Magee food that she used to reserve solely for him.
  • Sinister Minister: Reverend Thorne's a comedic version, though he's mostly redeemed by the end of season 5.
  • Sleep Cute: Amaar and Thorne - still very much in the Foe Yay stage of their relationship - get lost at night in the woods. Amaar wakes up in the morning to find Thorne pretty much wrapped around him.
  • Strawman Political: Fred Tupper, the host of the local rightish-wing radio talk show.
    • Also Baber Siddiqui, an Islamic fundamentalist who sermonizes on topics such as evil westerners trying to corrupt Islamic children through such products as root beer and liquorice.[1]
  • Straw Character: Fred Tupper, an offensive radio host who doesn't trust Muslims, as well as Baber, who believes that winegums, liquorice, and rye bread are part of a plot to trick Muslims into drinking alcohol. In one episode, Baber was able to patch up his religious differences with an ignorant redneck because they both felt equally strongly about same-sex marriage, or, as Baber called it, "The Abomination." It gets even more subversive when you consider that the imam, who would never conduct such a marriage, encourages the Anglican minister to.
  • Tempting Fate: Yasser reassures Amaar that the open house is going on "without an itch". The Chekhov's Gun-ish electric box he has been tasked to fix proceeds to blow up.
  • Theme Naming: A couple called Rose and Thorne.
  • Those Two Guys: Omar and Yussef in season 6
  • Training Montage: Spoofed in one episode. Babar is walking down the street reading a book of Curling rules and regulations. He proceeds to walk past people playing various other sports and up a flight of stairs, then turns around and holds the book in the air. Oh yea, and an oddly played version of Gonna Fly Now is indeed playing.
  • Unfortunate Implications: In-universe examples in the bachelor party episode, both Played for Laughs - Thorne arranges a paintball game for Amaar's bachelor party, because "if there's one thing I know about Muslims, they love guns!" and Amaar chooses the teams at random, only realising too late that his team is entirely Muslim and the other team is entirely white.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Amaar and Rayyan for the first few seasons.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Baber, who may be a retired economics professor, but he's still unapologetically the Islamic version of Archie Bunker.
    • Actually most-if not all-of the cast have pretty sketchy morals at times. Fortunately, the sketchy moments are divided more or less evenly between the Christian and Muslim characters.
  • Van in Black: When an agent of the Canadian Secret Service came to Mercy on holiday, the Muslim community got paranoid, and Baber noticed a delivery truck outside the Mosque. He claims it's a stakeout, and there are three agents there, one of them called "Sarge", and they're drinking coffee out of paper cups. At the end of the episode, the Secret Service really start surveillance on the Mosque there really are three agents there, drinking coffee out of paper cups, and one of them is called "Sarge"
  • Verbal Tic: Amaar has one in "Haunted Mosque on the Prairies" -- whenever he talks about the new mosque he has to add that it's opening "in three short weeks."
  • Whole-Episode Flashback: The aforementioned "A Holiday Story" qualifies.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Thorne pulls one of these after a charity boxing match with Amaar. It backfires when the people he was hoping to turn against Amaar are actually impressed by his attempts to make amends.
  • Zany Scheme: Yasir, Sarah and the Mayor are all prone to coming up with these. Yasir's fondness for them is lampshaded a couple of times.

Ann: What would Yasir do...? He'd jump on that crazy scheme and ride it to the finish line!

  1. As anyone who's spent time in a Wahhabi-funded Muslim parochial school will tell you, these people actually exist, although they tend not the be taken seriously.