PalArch’ Self- Orientalization or Revival of Faith: The Politics of Sacred and Secular in Aslam’s Fiction
Muslim identities have shown a greater degree of flexibility over the last few decades due to increasing attacks on Muslims’ religious and cultural identity and subsequent changed societal perceptions about them against the backdrop of 9/11. As a result, recent artistic representations of Islam and Muslim identity have also become increasingly polarized. Writers of Muslim origin, caught in the process of redefining what it means to be a Muslim, have tried to shift the focus away from radicals preaching hard-line Islam. This means that literary and cultural representations have atendency to “provide a place in which appropriate and adequate humane responses [can] be articulated, and new modes of conceiving an altered reality [can] take shape” (Berendse and Williams, 2002:10). Contrary to this, writers such as Salman Rushdie, Monica Ali, Tasleema Nasreen, Hanif Kureishi and Nadeem Aslam have provoked religious or cultural sensitivities which contributed to the Islamophobia that swept through North America and Europe following the events of 9/11. Through reductive representations of Islam employing “recycled Orientalist tropes cast in the insider’s voice” (Nash, 2012:27), they have utterly failed to effectively bring secular and non-secular experiences into a productive mélange. Given this context, for this paper, We focus on Rushdie’s and Aslam’s fiction that are replete with references to Islamic laws which provoke debates among Western scholars with regard to the propaganda that Islam is a religion of violence. We argue that Rushdie’s and Aslam’s eclectic approaches towards Islamic shariah laws not only challenge their own opposition to Islamic absolutism, which they foreground in their novels, but also question their claims to have rewritten Islam in good faith.