This is a simple and clearly written story which takes a different look at the tensions within Islam, between men and women and life as an immigrant. Najwa becomes increasingly religious and over time takes work as a maid to wealthy Middle Eastern families and starts to wear the hijab. Najwa works for one particular family as a maid/childminder and becomes involved in some of the complex relationships within the household. It is also a window into a hidden life in the womens section of the mosque which is communal, supportive and often centred around children.
After two years things changed, a lot of things happened, at that point I remembered what I read in this book, I wanted to read it again I went back to the library but could not find it, I frantically searched in the Town library, but I still could not find it.Then I finally got it from online. I read it again and finally understood Najwa's decision at the end, now that I feel like I am at her position in life.
This is a beautiful, gentle book that raises questions about modern vs.
A Review of Minaret By Leila Aboulela for ENGL 358 In modern society there seems to be this over-arching generalization that Islam is this incredibly oppressive religion for women. Thankfully Leila Aboulela wrote the novel Minaret in order to truly illustrate how a Muslim woman is able to function within society, and in such an honest way that the story may be misunderstood as flat or uneventful. As a general understanding Sudan at the time represented in the novel was experiencing a certain form of stability after years of civil war. This adds to the poignancy of the novel and allows the reader to begin to focus their preconceived notions of a Muslim woman in modern Western civilization. It is only once Najwa becomes a practitioner of Islam that the reader understands the true importance of Omar incarceration, as Najwa states I wish that he Omar had been punished the very first time he took drugs. Despite her lack of true Islamic practices early in the novel Ramadan was one of the only times Najwa ever acted like a Muslim. The reader is meant to begin to understand the nagging sensation in which Najwa feels early in Sudan as she watches other Muslim women pray at school. As a catalyst for Najwas self-discovery the missed Ramadan allows the reader to understand the need for a major change. Anwar, much like Omar, becomes merely a moral examination for Najwa that allows her to better understand Islam as a way of living. As much of the novel is focused on Najwa life prior to her true conversion and practice of Islam the reader begins to understand a world very similar to their own. Much like the rest of the novel this idea of being covered is both an important part of Islamic practice, as well as a way of connecting and discussing the practice with the reader in order to highlight the very personal decision in which comes with wearing any form of covering. It is this type of illustration that adds to the continued understanding of Islamic women in society. What truly makes Minaret so important as a novel is its close examination of Islam from the perspective of someone who comes to a new and better understanding of what it truly means to be an Islamic practitioner. The reader goes alongside Najwa as a way of truly examining their own personal understanding of Islam, and how women fit into that much misunderstood religion. Najwa allows the reader a friend in misunderstanding and assumption, as she begins to transform her own understanding of Islam. The background information such as the Sudanese Civil War, migration, or modern terrorist attacks are truly unimportant to the greater understanding of Islam and women.
I found this book a quick easy read. She wasn't a practising Muslim, then she was.
. I think a lot of books with a focus on Islam recently tend to look at the extremist side, or western influences, so it was nice to read a book where a woman turns to religion to find solace and friendship in other practising Muslim women in her area and grow as a person!
My knowledge of Sudan, the Muslim religion, and those exiled to England after the political upheaval of the 80s is minimal, so I was intrigued by many of the issues in this novel. I think the author, Leila Aboulela, did a good job of showing why a young woman would want to reject prominent Western ideals (such as freedom in dress, freedom from family, etc.). Overall, I would say that this is a good jumping off point for those who want to learn more about the Muslim religion and some contemporary issues in Sudan, but dont set your expectations too high.
The nature of British society and how it treats Muslim women is sharply delineated and fascinating and makes a good contrast to the more subtle internal geography of what it means to be Islamic in the modern world which is explored with calm authority and a certain amount of poetic clarity.