Humanising Islam's message and messenger in postcolonial literature

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English & Comparative Literature Department

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Research Article

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Journal of Qur'anic Studies

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Recent postcolonial novels have touched on Islamic faith and the Prophet, presenting a humanised image of Islam and Mu?ammad. Such fiction has succeeded in writing back to Orientalist dehumanisation of the Other and stereotypes of Muslims as well as writing against fundamentalist reactionary appropriation of Islam. Leila Aboulela in The Translator (1999) interprets Islam literally and metaphorically to non-Muslims in a fictional romance that takes the protagonists from Scotland to Sudan. Assia Djebar in Loin de Médine (1991) deals with the beginnings of Islam in Arabia. This historical novel concentrates on women's voices that have been marginalised or dropped altogether from accounts by male historians. Salim Bachi in Le Silence de Mahomet (2008), narrates the advent of Islam through multiple points of view: by two wives of the Prophet, Khadija and ?A?isha, as well as by two influential men, the Prophet's companion Abu Bakr and the military leader Khalid b. al-Walid. This polyphonic novel allows the complexity and diversity of worldviews to be juxtaposed and intertwined. The three novels offer fresh humane portraits of iconic figures and of Islam's message while simultaneously highlighting human frailty and splendour.

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