Portrait of Community, Faith, & Healing in “Two Gods” on INDEPENDENT LENS, June 21 at 10 pm

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A moving portrait of community, faith, and healing through the eyes of a Muslim casket maker and his mentees

Older man showing teen boy how to build a casket for the first time.
Hanif Muhammad shows Furquan Maynard how to build a casket for the first time.

An intimate documentary about faith, renewal, and healing, Two Gods follows a Muslim casket maker and ritual body washer in New Jersey, as he takes two young men under his wing to teach them how to live better lives.

Inside a corner casket shop in East Orange, laboring amid the sawdust and the long pine boxes, casket makers work with mentors in the Islamic burial tradition. Hanif, a Black Muslim casket maker who finds spiritual grounding in his work, brings two boys from the local community under his tutelage; 12-year-old Furquan and 17-year-old Naz.

Hanif teaches Furquan and Naz the practices of Islamic burial rituals as they assist him with his work. Having formerly served time in prison himself, Hanif continues to grapple with past mistakes and new challenges, while his faith and community helps him guide his young charges on their own paths toward healing and embracing life.

Close up face of exhausted black male teenager
Nazir Powell shares how exhausted he feels with the toll the criminal justice system has taken on his teenage life.

Shot in a striking black-and-white, Two Gods explores the juxtaposition of grief and the rituals of death with the vibrancy and potential of adolescence. The documentary turns an empathetic lens on Muslim American stories, ultimately crafting a moving portrait of both the intimate moments and the complexities of the everyday Muslim American experience.