Little Mosque on the Prairie

Little Mosque on the Prairie

Logo for Little Mosque on the Prairie in early seasons.
Created by Zarqa Nawaz
Starring Zaib Shaikh
Carlo Rota
Sheila McCarthy
Sitara Hewitt
Manoj Sood
Arlene Duncan
Debra McGrath
Derek McGrath
Brandon Firla
Neil Crone
Aliza Vellani
Ending theme Music and singing by Maryem Tollar
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 6
No. of episodes 90 (list of episodes)
Executive producer(s) Mary Darling
Clark Donnelly
Location(s) Ontario and Saskatchewan, Canada
Running time 22 mins. (approx)
Production company(s) WestWind Pictures
Original network CBC Television
Original release January 9, 2007 – April 2, 2012
External links

Little Mosque on the Prairie is a Canadian television sitcom created by Zarqa Nawaz and produced by WestWind Pictures, originally broadcast between 2007 and 2012 on CBC. Filmed in Toronto, Ontario and Indian Head, Saskatchewan, the series was showcased at the Dawn Breakers International Film Festival. After the series finale aired in April 2012, Hulu announced it would begin offering the series under the name Little Mosque that summer.[1] The series made its U.S. syndication debut on Pivot in August 2013.


The series focuses on the Muslim community in the fictional prairie town of Mercy, Saskatchewan (population 14,000). The primary institutions of the community are the local mosque, presided over by imam Amaar Rashid and located in the rented parish hall of the town's Anglican church, and Fatima's Café, a downtown diner run by Fatima Dinssa. The community patriarchs are Yasir Hamoudi, a construction contractor who originally fronted the money to establish the mosque under the pretense that he was renting office space for his business, and Baber Siddiqui, a college economics professor who served as the mosque's temporary imam until Amaar was hired.

The town of Mercy is governed by Mayor Ann Popowicz. Sarah Hamoudi, Yasir's wife, works as a public relations officer in Popowicz's office. However, after Yasir had to leave Mercy and go to Lebanon in season 4 episode 10, Sarah managed his contracting company.

The title is a play on the name of the classic American book and TV drama series, Little House on the Prairie. The two series are not related aside from the modified version of the title logo which was used for early seasons.



Although the show is set in Saskatchewan, the actual production is split between Saskatchewan and Ontario. Episodes 1 and 2 were filmed in Regina, but the rest of season one was filmed in the Toronto area. Indian Head, where a set has been built for the exterior of the mosque, doubles for the show's exteriors.[2] Film Rescue International's building exterior stands in for the town hall and Certified Plumbing and Heating as the local used car dealership. The Novia Cafe, the front of which is used in the show as a stand-in for Fatima's, was located in Regina. It closed in the early summer of 2011.

Actors Zaib Shaikh[3] and Aliza Vellani are Muslims. Sitara Hewitt (Rayyan) is also of partial Pakistani Muslim descent, but was raised Christian as both of her parents are Anglican Christians.[4] Manoj Sood (Baber) is a Hindu Punjabi.

Zarqa Nawaz based much of the show on her personal experiences. Many of the characters are partially inspired by her family and friends. The episode "The Barrier" is based on a true happening at Nawaz's mosque when incoming conservative Muslims pressured the imam to put up a barrier separating men and women. The pilot episode also contained a satire of Maher Arar's 2002 detainment.[3]

In the episode "The Archdeacon Cometh", the archdeacon mentions having to "shut down a church in Dog River", referencing Canadian sitcom Corner Gas on rival network CTV. Carlo Rota and Sheila McCarthy, in character as Yasir and Sarah, also later appeared in a crossover with Brent (Brent Butt) and Hank (Fred Ewanuick) from Corner Gas on the sketch comedy series Royal Canadian Air Farce, debating the location of Mercy and Dog River (both fictional towns) in relation to each other after Yasir and Sarah bought the gas station and fired Brent.

Guest actors who have appeared on the show include Colin Mochrie, Dan Redican, Samantha Bee, Dave Foley, Maria Vacratsis, Sam Kalilieh, Peter Wildman, Sugith Varughese, Hrant Alianak, Veena Sood, Kathryn Winslow, Jayne Eastwood, Patrick McKenna and Tom Jackson, as well as hockey player Darcy Tucker, curler Glenn Howard, and sportscaster Ron MacLean.

Production staff

The show's executive producers are Mary Darling and Clark Donnelly, owners of WestWind Pictures, and Allan Magee. Producers are Colin Brunton and Michael Snook. Associate producer is Shane Corkery, with Jason Belleville, Dan Redican and Zarqa Nawaz as consulting producers.

The writing staff includes or has included Susan Alexander, Cole Bastedo, Jason Belleville, Andrew Carr, Andrew De Angelis, Claire Ross Dunn, Sadiya Durrani, Greg Eckler, Anthony Q. Farrell, Josh Gal, Sarah Glinski, Barbara Haynes, Karen Hill, Paul Mather, Jackie May, Zarqa Nawaz, Paul Pogue, Al Rae, Dan Redican, Sam Ruano, Vera Santamaria, Rebecca Schechter, Rob Sheridan, and Miles G. Smith. Carr, Mather, and Sheridan were previously writers for Corner Gas.[5][6]

The directors for the first four seasons include Michael Kennedy (33 episodes including the pilot and entire first season), Brian Roberts (14), Jim Allodi (6), Steve Wright (4), Jeff Beesley (4), Paul Fox (4), and Zarqa Nawaz (1).

Faisal Kutty, a Toronto-based lawyer, academic and writer served as the first Islamic culture and practice content consultant for the show. He was responsible to provide advice and feedback on accuracy in terms of the portrayal of Islamic norms and practices. He also provided input to producers and writers.


While the show does derive some of its humour from exploring the interactions of the Muslims with the non-Muslim townspeople of Mercy, and the contrast of conservative Islamic views (held primarily by the characters of Baber and Fatima) with more liberal interpretations of Islam (as represented by Amaar and Rayyan), at its core the show is essentially a traditional sitcom whose most unusual trait is the simple fact of being set among an underrepresented and misunderstood cultural community. Nawaz herself has stated that the show's primary agenda is to be funny, not to be a political platform. She has also stated that she views comedy as one of the most valuable and powerful ways to break down barriers and to encourage dialogue and understanding between cultures.

This is represented by the show's promotional tagline, "Small town Canada with a little Muslim twist": the religious angle, while always present, is largely tied to and sometimes even secondary to standard and universal sitcom themes such as family, friends and the humour in everyday life. For example, while the show sometimes tackles storylines with a political edge, such as a character claiming to be unable to attend a conference in the United States because he says he was wrongly placed on a no-fly list (when in fact he is simply afraid of flying) or the mosque being raided by the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, even these situations are explored as much for their humour as their politics. The show much more commonly explores purely comedic issues such as whether a Muslim woman still has to cover her hair if the only man who can see her is gay, whether Muslims can curl, whether to haggle with the carpet salesman when buying a prayer rug, or whether a Muslim woman's head scarf is enough to mitigate a bad hair day. Television critics have also credited this very combination of an attention-grabbing premise with conventional and familiar sitcom themes as one of the primary reasons that the show successfully retained an audience after its debut.[7]

The series also sidesteps issues of stereotyping by having characters in both the Muslim and non-Muslim communities who cross the entire spectrum of political opinion. Baber and Fatima, who represent conservative views within Islam, are balanced by conservative radio host Fred Tupper among the non-Muslims, while Amaar and Rayyan, who represent Islamic liberalism, are balanced by the liberal Anglican Rev. Magee. The more moderate Yasir and Sarah, who try to be good Muslims but aren't particularly strongly defined by their faith, are balanced among the non-Muslims by Mayor Popowicz, who doesn't care what anybody's religious beliefs are as long as they vote for her on election day.

Hewitt's character of Rayyan Hamoudi, in particular, has been singled out in the media as a strong and unique role model for young Muslim women—both for her ability to reconcile a commitment to her Muslim faith with a modern, feminist-inspired Western lifestyle and career,[8] and as a fashion icon who dresses in clothes that are religiously appropriate yet stylish, professional and contemporary.[9]


DVD releases

Entertainment One has released all six seasons of Little Mosque on the Prairie on DVD in Region 1 (Canada only).[10][11][12][13][14] Season 6 was released on 23 October 2012.[15]

The cover art for the first season DVD.

The series logo used for the cover art of the DVD releases does not use the mosque imagery of the televised version, thus rendering it similar to that used by Little House on the Prairie except for the use of the word "Mosque" instead of "House".


Unusual for a Canadian television series, Little Mosque received extensive advance publicity in international media, with stories appearing in The New York Times,[16] the Washington Times and the Houston Chronicle, as well as on CNN,[17] NPR[18] and the BBC[19]

The show premiered on January 9, 2007, at 8:30 p.m. The pilot then reaired on January 15 in the show's regular timeslot, and the series subsequently aired Mondays at 8:00 p.m. (all times half an hour later in Newfoundland).

The series premiere drew an audience of 2.1 million,[20] an exceptionally strong rating for domestic programming in the Canadian television market, and on par with Canadian ratings for popular American series. It was, in fact, the largest audience the CBC had achieved in a decade for an entertainment program. By comparison, Corner Gas, one of the highest-rated Canadian TV shows, attracts just under one and a half million viewers for a typical episode. The second episode, airing against the second night of the much-anticipated season premiere of American Idol in most markets, had 1.2 million viewers,[21] a sharp drop but still a high rating for a Canadian sitcom, and very high for CBC Television, which has had trouble garnering large audiences for its scripted programming in recent years.

At the end of the show's season on March 7, 2007, the show attracted 1.1 million viewers, or an average of 1.2 million for the season. CBC Television renewed the show for a second season consisting of 20 episodes, which began airing on October 3, 2007, and continued to attract an average of one million viewers per episode.

CBC renewed the show for a third season on March 7, 2008. Season three premiered on CBC Television October 1, 2008. In its third season ratings declined and as of December 2008 it was attracting a quarter of its original audience.[22] In its fourth season ratings declined further and as of December 2009 it was drawing 420,000 viewers a week, or twenty percent of its original audience.[23]

On February 11, 2011, it was announced that CBC had renewed the series for a sixth and final season.[24][25] This season began airing on CBC on January 9, 2012[26] and concluded on April 2, 2012.

Critical reception

Canadian writer and producer Ken Finkleman (best known for his CBC series The Newsroom) criticized the show's sunny outlook. "There’s deep confusion and racism about the place of Islam in the Western world and it’s the thing that’s broiling up under everything in the world, and the show presents this world where everything is happy."[27]

The Los Angeles Times wrote: "'Mosque' was conceived in the wake of the 2005 Danish Muhammad cartoon crisis by producer Mary Darling, her husband, Clark Donnelly, and writer Zarqa Nawaz when they met at the Banff Television Festival. The basic premise was: What would it look like if a Muslim born and raised in Canada became an imam?"[28]

In regards to the program's initially not being shown in the United States, the Los Angeles Times said: "The genius of 'Mosque' is that the characters resonate with viewers all over the world. The show is broadcast in 83 countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Turkey; the format was sold to 20th Century Fox in 2008 for a U.S. remake but nothing came of it. Nawaz's explanation: 'We didn't have 9/11, and we have a public broadcaster. 9/11 affected the American psyche in a major way, and you have to be sensitive to that.'"[28]

Weekly ratings

# Episode Air Date Viewers
1 "Little Mosque" January 9, 2007 2.178
2 "The Barrier" January 17, 2007 1.232
3 "The Open House" January 31, 2007 1.311
4 "Swimming Upstream" February 6, 2007 1.085
5 "The Convert" February 14, 2007 1.112
6 "The Archdeacon Cometh" February 21, 2007 0.906
7 "Mother-in-Law" February 28, 2007 1.001
8 "Playing with Fire" March 7, 2007 1.128

International syndication

Wikinews has related news: Canadian television show to debut in French speaking countries

On May 8, 2007, WestWind Pictures announced that the show would be airing in France, Switzerland, and francophone African countries beginning in July. The French television company Canal+ Group will distribute the show's first season in July to non-subscribers of Canal+, a channel to which viewers must subscribe in order to watch. French voice-actors will dub the show.[29]

On September 26, 2007, WestWind Pictures announced that the show would soon air in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, United Arab Emirates, Finland and Turkey.[30] On October 2, 2007, Al Jazeera English confirmed that the United Arab Emirates and Finland had signed deals to begin airing the series in 2008.[31]

From June 12, 2008, SRC, CBC's French-language network in Canada, started to air the show, dubbed in French, under the title La Petite Mosquée dans la Prairie.[32]

The series began airing under the name Little Mosque on Hulu in June 2012.[1][33]

The series made its United States television debut on Pivot in August 2013 under the name Little Mosque.


The show was nominated for Best Writing at the 2007 Canadian Comedy Awards. The episode "The Convert" was nominated for Best Writing in a Comedy or Variety Program or Series and Best Direction in a Comedy Program or Series at the 2007 Gemini Awards. The show was also nominated for Best Television Series – Comedy at the 2007 Directors Guild of Canada Awards.

Internationally, Little Mosque won awards for Best International Television Series and Best Screenplay at the 2007 RomaFictionFest. Former Canadian federal Member of Parliament Rahim Jaffer, who is Muslim, and director Michael Kennedy introduced the program screening.

The show won the Canada Award for media representation of multiculturalism at the 2007 Gemini Awards, and the 2007 Search for Common Ground Award, an international humanitarian award whose past recipients have included Muhammad Ali, Desmond Tutu and Jimmy Carter.

Since the producers of the show are Baha'is, it was selected and showcased in the Dawn Breakers International Film Festival in both 2008 and 2009 festivals making its first international film festival premieres in the US and Europe.

Planned version set in United States

In June 2008 Fox announced plans to adapt Little Mosque on the Prairie into an American setting, in partnership with the show's production company, WestWind Pictures. The planned deal would not affect the Canadian version if it were to be picked up in the United States by another distributor or network.[34][35] The U.S. version of the show has never been produced since the acquisition.[36]

In 2012, PPI Releasing, LLC acquired the U.S. broadcast rights of the Canadian television series.


  1. 1 2 "Little Mosque". Hulu.
  2. Little Mosque' now calls Indian Head home. The Leader-Post (Regina). July 28, 2008.
  3. 1 2 Zarqa Nawaz on 'Little Mosque' (Interview, MP3, Flash). Fresh Air; NPR. January 17, 2007.
  4. EGO Magazine: Sitara Hewitt EGO Magazine. October 8, 2008.
  5. Witty and wise, Little Mosque is enjoying a fine second season. The Ottawa Citizen. October 24, 2007.
  6. "Little Mosque steps on the Gas", The Globe and Mail, March 3, 2007.(subscription required)
  7. "Season finale on Mosque", CanWest News Service, March 5, 2008.
  8. "The rights stuff: Sitara Hewitt resurrects women's-lib issues as Little Mosque's Dr. Rayyan Hamoudi",, March 5, 2008
  9. Hijab Chique, a Muslim fashion blog which frequently uses Rayyan's wardrobe as inspiration.
  10. Little Mosque on the Prairie: Season One
  11. Little Mosque on the Prairie: Season Two
  12. Little Mosque on the Prairie: Season Three
  13. Little Mosque on the Prairie: Season Four
  14. Little Mosque on the Prairie: Season Five
  15. Little Mosque on the Prairie: Season Six
  16. McFarquhar, Neil (2006-12-07). "Sitcom's Precarious Premise: Being Muslim Over Here". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-01-07.
  17. "Glenn Beck (interview with series creator Zarqa Nawaz)". CNN. December 12, 2006. Retrieved 2007-01-07.
  18. NPR : CBC to Tell the Story of Little Mosque on the Prairie
  19. BBC website: "Muslim sitcom debuts in Canada"
  20. "A whopping two million viewers tune into 'Little Mosque'". Toronto: The Globe and Mail. 2007-01-10. Retrieved 2007-01-10.
  21. CBC's 'Little Mosque' viewership drops off from hyped debut, but still respectable, Canadian Press via, January 18, 2007
  22. Brioux, Bill "'Heroes,' 'Little Mosque on the Prairie' among shows needing work", Canadian Press, 2008-10-27. Retrieved on 2008-12-2.
  23. Brioux, Bill " "Being Erica Means Being on the Bubble", 2009-12-10. Retrieved on 2009-12-15.
  24. "CBC Renews Lots of Stuff". Macleans. February 11, 2011. Retrieved March 21, 2011.
  25. Harris, Bill (June 8, 2011). "Cover Me Canada' takes centre stage". Toronto Sun. Retrieved June 10, 2011.
  26. "CBC Season Preview". Retrieved December 26, 2012.
  27. Finkleman, Ken. "Review: Little Mosque". EyeWeekly. Archived from the original on July 10, 2011.
  28. 1 2 Adair, Marcia (April 10, 2011). "Cultural Exchange: The world cottons to 'Little Mosque on the Prairie'. The gentle Canadian sitcom is seen in 83 countries, but the U.S. isn't one of them.". Los Angeles Times.
  29. "Press Release: Little Mosque on the Prairie Producers Ink First International Distribution Deal With French Broadcasting Giant Canal+". CCNMatthews. May 8, 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-08.
  30. "Little Mosque goes international". CBC News. 2007-09-26. Archived from the original on October 28, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-26.
  31. "A Little Mosque Grows". Al Jazeera English. 2007-10-02. Retrieved 2007-10-03.
  32. "Radio-Canada présentera "La petite mosquée dans la prairie"". 2007-10-29. Retrieved 2007-10-02.
  33. Vlessing, Etan (May 21, 2012). "Hulu Unveils More Hit International TV Series for Summer Lineup". The Hollywood Reporter.
  34. Surette, Tim (June 10, 2008). Fox importing Mosque.
  35. Vlessing, Etan (June 10, 2008). Fox picks up rights to build U.S. 'Mosque'. The Hollywood Reporter.
  36. PPI Releasing Little Mosque press kit
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