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Islam and the West

Islam in the West

For my final blog post, I drew inspiration from our reading of The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid. The novel tells the story of Changez and his struggle reconciling his dual identity in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks. On the one hand, he is a Princeton graduate with a job at a prestigious firm and a British accent. On the other, he is Muslim, born and raised in Pakistan where his family still remains. At the novel’s beginning, there is no conflict between these identities and Changez is free to move between the two worlds with ease. He is cognizant of the difference between him and his colleagues, but it has no direct impact on daily routine.

All this changes after the September 11th attacks when increased wariness of the “other” results in Changez being harassed on the streets, detained in airports, and ostracized at work. Rejected by his adopted homeland, Changez turns to the only thing he has left – his Pakistani Muslim identity. As the novel’s title suggests, it is not that Changez wanted to be a fundamentalist, he was quite content with his life as both a privileged American and a Pakistani Muslim, but that he was forced to become one. Even the type of “fundamentalist” that Changez becomes is very different from the fundamentalist that one typically envisions.

In my drawing, I show an American flag with the Islamic star and crescent replacing the stars for the 50 states. By combining the symbols of Islam and the United States I attempted to convey my hope that one day these identities do not have to be mutually exclusive.


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