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Linking feminism and Islam - Book review of Mirrors and Mirages
The Spec ^ | 8-2-2014 | Safa Jinje

Posted on 08/02/2014 6:07:41 AM PDT by Citizen Zed

Monia Mazigh's first foray into public life was in 2002, when her husband Maher Arar was deported to Syria by the U.S. government on suspicion of having terrorist affiliations. Arar was tortured and held without charges until Mazigh launched a vigorous campaign for his eventual release.

In 2008, Hope and Despair, Mazigh's account of her family's struggle during this difficult period was released in English.

Mirrors and Mirages, Mazigh's first novel, was nominated for the Trillium Book Award in its original French in 2011 and translated to English by Fred A. Reed. The novel tells a sweeping story of a group of intelligent, strong-minded Muslim women, whose lives subtly intersect in Canada's capital.

The novel opens with Emma and her daughter Sara preparing to leave a women's shelter to restart their lives after a dark period of emotional despair. Emma had left her native Tunisia to study computer science in Montreal. Loneliness ensued, until she found a reprieve from the foreignness and coldness of her new country in Fadi. She got caught in the whirlwind of love, marriage and childbirth until eventually everything came crashing down and all that was left was a shell of the woman she used to be.

Sally lives with loving immigrant parents from Pakistan, who only want the best for their daughter, for every impediment to success to be torn down by Sally's impeccable education. But when Sally adopts a new, fundamentalist form of Islam their home becomes a miserable environment: "she wanted nothing to do with traditional Islam of the kind her parents practised. She wanted pure, unadulterated Islam, an Islam that would make her feel strong and superior." A cold cloud of judgment fills their home, until Sally's heart is eventually softened by the courtship of a secret admirer.

Lama can barely tolerate living with her superficial mother and two sisters in a home where modernity often supersedes tradition. She lives for the day she can leave Ottawa and work for her absent father in Dubai. Her mother, Samia, fills their home with opulence and spends her days parading the family's wealth to the envy of her friends.

Like the beautiful clothing she wears, her materialism is a glossy façade meant to avert eyes from her deep-seated solitude.

Louise has converted to Islam for love, much to her mother's dismay. Alice had raised her daughter to be an independent thinker: "She believed fervently in the principles of secularism, of equality between the sexes, of the primacy of law over religion. It was clear that her daughter's conversation was a sign of submission and servitude, a shameful surrender of her freedom." Louise's faith becomes a thorn in Alice's side; she refuses to see that Louise has found a sense of security in Islam that has always been missing from her fatherless life.

When it comes to religion, we all have our prejudices. Whether we consider ourselves believers or not, the ritual observance of faith has a habit of drawing lines in the sand. This is especially so for Islam, a religion frequently overshadowed by the devastation of fundamentalist terrorism.

Indeed, since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the concept of Islam has often been merged with Jihadist terror. The issue of terrorism is raised in Mirrors and Mirages, when a secondary character is arrested on suspicion of hatching a terrorist plot. But this brief interjection functions to show the dark potential of overzealous devotion, which feels at odds with true spiritualism.

Mirrors and Mirages offers a fascinating, multifaceted portrait of independent Muslim women.

While the story can feel a little too idealistic and unnatural at times — especially in the Socratic Method many characters use to discuss, debate and ruminate over their issues — Mazigh accomplishes something unique with this novel: a story that bridges the gap between two distinct doctrines that are often considered incompatible: namely, feminism and Islam.


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"Mazigh accomplishes something unique with this novel: a story that bridges the gap between two distinct doctrines that are often considered incompatible: namely, feminism and Islam."

I can't wait for the movie. It'll be perfect for a double feature with Fifty Shades of Grey.

1 posted on 08/02/2014 6:07:41 AM PDT by Citizen Zed
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To: Citizen Zed

...or maybe I’ll reread Gone with the Wind again this summer.


2 posted on 08/02/2014 6:17:51 AM PDT by miss marmelstein (Richard Lives Yet!)
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To: Citizen Zed

What?
No barf alert?


3 posted on 08/02/2014 6:29:54 AM PDT by Flintlock (Deport them ALLLL!)
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To: Citizen Zed

I’ve personally known two women who married Arabs, both men being Muslim.

One marriage was shattered by a mother-in-law who beat the American woman.

The other marriage is still enduring, but they live in the United States. It seems he truly, deeply, loves his American wife.


4 posted on 08/02/2014 6:30:31 AM PDT by SatinDoll (A NATURAL BORN CITIZEN IS BORN IN THE US OF US CITIZEN PARENTS.)
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To: SatinDoll

My Christian neighbor is married to a Muslim. She wears the pants in the family. It does happen, I guess. My Muslim neighbor always says it’s the Arab muzzies who cause all the troubles. He hates Arabs.


5 posted on 08/02/2014 6:33:27 AM PDT by miss marmelstein (Richard Lives Yet!)
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To: Citizen Zed

islamists are like their nazi allies, though they’re even worse.


6 posted on 08/02/2014 8:53:30 AM PDT by onedoug
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