Literary Reflections

Discussion points for Minaret

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Leila Golestenah Austin suggests questions and topics to encourage and guide discussion.



Islam is often seen as either a cultural or a political phenomenon.  In what ways does Najwa’s faith defy these easy categorizations?

Minaret might be read as a critique of Sudanese patriarchy, as every man in Najwa’s life seems to fail her.  How does Najwa compensate for the lack of protection she experiences?  

What kind of imagery does Leila Aboulela adopt to convey the experience of cross-cultural encounters? How does she juxtapose themes of guilt and cleansing to explain Najwa’s experience in her new home?

In Najwa, Aboulela depicts an independent woman whose faith is not a matter of abstract dogma or empty rituals, but rather a struggle within, between the lures of an individualist consumer culture and the promise of a communitarian religious experience. Does the position of a woman like Najwa challenge Western notions of feminism? How does she defy stereotypes of Muslim women? 

Aboulela claims to write fiction that reflects Islamic logic -- worlds where cause and effect are governed by a Muslim rationale.  Do you see this reflected in Minaret?

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"Muslim Journeys | Item #287: Discussion points for Minaret", May 21, 2024