A Jihad for Love is produced by Halal Films, in association with the Sundance Documentary Fund, Channel 4 Television (UK), ZDF (Germany), Arte (France-Germany), Logo (US) and SBS (Australia).
The documentary was filmed in 12 different countries and in nine languages. Sharma conducted interviews throughout North America, Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Countries included Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Egypt, Bangladesh, Turkey, France, India, South Africa, the United States and the United Kingdom. He found many of his interviewees online, and received thousands of emails.
The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2007, and has been screened to great acclaim at several film festivals around the world. It was the Opening film for the prestigious Panorama Dokumente section of the Berlin Film Festival in February, 2008. The U.S. theatrical release was May 21, 2008 at the IFC Center in New York City. The film screened at the Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco on June 28, 2008, and the Tokyo International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival on July 13, 2008.
The title A Jihad for Love refers to the Islamic concept of jihad, as a religious struggle. The film seeks to reclaim this concept of personal struggle, as it is used by the media and politicians almost exclusively to mean "holy war" and to refer to violent acts perpetrated by extremist Muslims.
The film has gone by several titles, beginning with the official working title, In the Name of Allah.
Among Muslims, the phrase (bismillah in Arabic) may be used before beginning actions, speech, or writing. Its most notable use in Al-Fatiha, the opening passage of the Qur'an, which begins Bismillahi r-Rahmani r-Rahim. All surahs of the Qur'an begin with "Bismillahi r-Rahmani r-Rahim," with the exception of the ninth.
Producer DuBowski's previous film, Trembling Before G-d, on Orthodox and Hasidic Jews, also included the name of God, written with a hyphen as in Jewish tradition. Allah is the name of God in Islam and Arabic, and it is often used among Muslims residing in Muslim countries and monotheists in Arabic speaking countries.
Sharma's making of the film has not been without criticism.
Sharma refuses to associate homosexuality with shame, but recognizes the need to protect the safety and privacy of his sources, by filming them in silhouette or with their faces blurred. In one case, the family of an Afghan woman he interviewed "would undoubtedly kill her" if they found out she was lesbian. In another example, one of the associate producers, an Egyptian gay man, chose not to be listed in the credits for fear of possible consequences.
The film was banned from screening at the 2008 Singapore International Film Festival "in view of the sensitive nature of the subject that features Muslim homosexuals in various countries and their struggle to reconcile religion and their lifestyle," Amy Chua, Singapore Board of Film Censors chairwoman was quoted as saying by The Straits Times.
As of April 6, 2015, the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 76% percent of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 32 reviews. Metacritic reported the film had an average score of 55 out of 100, based on six reviews — indicating mixed or average reviews.