A Sinner in Mecca

Parvez Sharma

Filmmaker Parvez Sharma is a both a devout Muslim and gay. Can his religion accept him? Sharma searches for answers during a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, where homosexuals can be sentenced to death. A unique account of the bizarre world of pilgrimage.

To fulfil his religious duty, Parvez Sharma goes on a pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia: one of the most repressive countries in the world, where homosexuals are whipped and can be sentenced to death. ‘The soul of Islam lives in Saudi Arabia,’ Sharma says. ‘An Islam of fear.’ A pretty nerve-racking destination for the filmmaker, to say the least. What’s more, Sharma just can’t help filming, even though it’s strictly prohibited in the kingdom.

The result is a unique report on his visit to the holiest city for Muslims and the bizarre world of pilgrimage. There’s a huge shopping mall right next to the Great Mosque and the Kaaba. The old holy sites have either been replaced by new buildings or – if not to the liking of the orthodox Saudis – destroyed. Believers seeking a mystical experience find an enormous religious industry. It’s both disconcerting and completely overwhelming. Sharma’s journey is also one of introspection: a long-postponed examination of his relationship with his mother in India, who gave him his faith but disapproved of his sexuality. As a devout believer, Sharma struggles with the question of whether he can be both gay and a good Muslim. Can Islam accept him? He searches for an answer while carrying out the seven rituals of the pilgrimage.


Parvez Sharma
Parvez Sharma , Andrew Herwitz
Country of production
India, Saudi Arabia, United States
79 minutes
Spoken language
Arabic, English, Hindi, Urdu
Production company
World Sales
The Film Sales Company