Moustapha Akkad, July 1, 1930 – November 11, 2005, was a Syrian American film producer and director, best known for directing Mohammad, Messenger of God and Lion of the Desert.
Akkad was born July 1, 1930 in Aleppo, Syria. His father, then a customs officer, gave him $200 and a copy of the Quran before he left for the United States to study film direction and production at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).
Akkad spent a further three years studying for a Master's degree at the University of Southern California (USC), where he met the director Sam Peckinpah. Peckinpah became Akkad's mentor in Hollywood and hired him as a consultant for a film about the Algerian revolution that never made it to the big screen, but he continued to encourage him until he found a job as a producer at CBS.
In 1976, he produced and directed Mohammad, Messenger of God (released as The Message in 1977 in the United States), starring Anthony Quinn and Irene Papas. Akkad faced resistance from Hollywood to make the film in Morocco.
While creating Muhammad, Messenger of God, he consulted Islamic clerics and tried to be respectful toward Islam and its views on portraying Prophet Muhammad. He got the Approval from the Al Azhar in Egypt but was rejected by Muslim World League in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
The Government of Kuwait, Libya and Morocco promised to support the film financially, but when it was rejected by the Muslim World League, Kuwait withdrew it financial support.
In 1980 he directed Lion of the Desert, in which Quinn and Irene Papas were joined by Oliver Reed, Rod Steiger, and John Gielgud. It was about the real-life Bedouin leader Omar Mukhtar (Quinn), who fought Benito Mussolini's Italian troops in the deserts of Libya.
He was killed along with his daughter Rima Akkad Monla in 2005 in Amman, Jordan by a suicide bomber.