Movie: Takva: A Man’s Fear of God (2006)

(Country: Turkey; Language: Turkish)

It’s the story of a man living a life of piety in relative seclusion in Istanbul. He’s reluctant when he’s offered to run the affairs of a religious organisation. He accepts the job with a view to further improve his faith and serve the cause of God but ironically his new role at the organisation has a corrupting influence on him and his faith.

The protagonist is serious about practicing his religion, maintains a basic lifestyle, does not own material things, and earns his livelihood by working at a store owned by his benefactor. He is the member of a Sufi order to whose religious meetings he’s been regularly attending since his early youth.

His Sufi master, impressed with his devotion and simplicity, urges him to take on the responsibility of the finances of the Sufi order. He hesitatingly accepts the job despite having reservations about his eligibility and experience.

He is tasked with collecting rents from the properties owned by the Sufi order. He is required to travel all over the city so his master gives him a car and a driver to take him around. He is given new suits to keep a good image for the order, a fancy wristwatch to check time, a mobile phone to keep in touch with his superiors – all material possessions he disliked and never owned before. He is apprehensive of material things in his life but he must use them to fulfill his religious duties that his Sufi master has tasked him with.

As time passes, he is troubled by a sense of superiority creeping into him. He feels himself above common people due to his closeness with the great Sufi master. He is worried about his coercive and harsh treatment of tenants who don’t pay rents on time. Before he was tolerant toward vices in people and treated with gently; now he flies into rage when he sees people transgressing religious bounds. To add to his misery he regularly dreams of the devil in the form of a seductive woman tempting him to the sin of the flesh.

One day, while working at his mentor’s store, he accidentally overcharges a customer. He realises it immediately but keeps quiet and keeps the cut. He’s spiritually torn and tormented having cheated on his employer, his Sufi master and God. It turns out to be the final nail. The crisis of spirit and faith finally renders him incapacitated and crippled in the end. He is bedridden for the rest of his life.

This is a wonderful film about the corrupting influence of power and money on men including great religious figures who cultivate the image of incorruptibility. The Sufi master shown as beyond worldly affairs has a major hand in corrupting the simple and devout protagonist. I’d rate it at 4/5. IMDb Link

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