Saturday, April 14, 2007

Reluctant Fundamentalist

The Reluctant Fundamentalist

I just read the book reveiw, and Insha Allah will read this book, if any one has read it, please post your comments here under. This particular item below is interesting, sort of reversing the role. It is always good to see things from a different point of view to arrive at a nearly acceptable understanding.

Q: In your novel, the Pakistani man is the sole speaker. Why did you choose to silence the American?

A: For me, in the world of media, particularly the American media, it's almost always the other way around.

Mike Ghouse

April 15, 2007
Questions for Mohsin Hamid
The Stranger

Q: Your new novel, "The Reluctant Fundamentalist," ascended to No. 1 on the Barnes & Noble best-seller list virtually the moment it was published in this country. What do you make of that?

A: Now perhaps I can quit my job. Three days a week, I do some consulting for a little branding firm in London.

Q: Is it fair to describe your second novel as a Muslim's critique of American values?

A: That's oversimplifying. The novel is a love song to America as much as it is a critique.

Q: I didn't find it so loving. It takes place on a single evening at a cafe in Lahore, as a charming, well-educated Pakistani in his 20s recounts his life story to an unnamed American stranger, who seems suspicious of him.

A: The American is acting as if the Pakistani man is a Muslim fundamentalist because of how he looks — he has a beard.

Q: And the Pakistani man also brings certain fears and preconceptions to their conversation. In an act of reverse ethnic profiling, he suspects the American is an undercover agent who might arrest him.

A: Yes. But he could be just as freaked out as the rest of us are in this world when we see an American with that kind of build and imagine he is a C.I.A. agent. The novel is not supposed to have a correct answer. It's a mirror. It really is just a conversation, and different people will read it in different ways.

Q: Like your novel, this interview is a conversation between an American listener and a Pakistani man with a beard. Are we also doomed to misunderstanding? Do you think I'm a C.I.A. agent?

A: If you had short hair and a bulge in your jacket, I might assume you were.

Q: Do you think I am mistaking you for a fundamentalist? I don't know.

A: But you are doing me the honor of trying to understand me.

Q: I don't know if I trust you.

A: Put that into the piece!

Q: It was unsettling to learn that your protagonist felt a rush of genuine pleasure when the World Trade towers were attacked.

A: Some part of him has a desire to see America harmed. In much of the world, there is resentment toward America, and the notion that the superpower could be humiliated or humbled or damaged in this way is something that gives satisfaction.

Q: Is that how you felt when the towers were attacked?

A: No. I was devastated. A wall had suddenly come up between my American and Muslim worlds. The novel is my attempt to reconnect those divided worlds.

Q: Much like the narrator of your book, you grew up in Pakistan and were educated at Princeton.

A: I was one of two or three Pakistanis in the class of '93, and I didn't feel homesick for a second. I took two writing workshops with Joyce Carol Oates, and I wrote the first draft of my first novel in a long-fiction workshop with Toni Morrison, both of whom encouraged me.

Q: Nonetheless, you went off to law school. What were you thinking?

A: I went to Harvard Law School and decided I didn't want to be a lawyer. It bored the pants off of me.

Q: Your novel suggests you have read a lot of Camus, particularly "The Fall," whose protagonist, not unlike yours, pours out his story to a stranger in one long philosophical rant.

A: Yes, Camus taught me how to have a conversation that implicates the reader.

Q: In your novel, the Pakistani man is the sole speaker. Why did you choose to silence the American?

A: For me, in the world of media, particularly the American media, it's almost always the other way around.

Q: But no one is silencing you. To the contrary, you're scheduled to visit Miami and Cambridge and Washington this week to promote a novel of which there are already more than 100,000 copies out there.

A: But there are not many of us from the Muslim world who are getting heard over here. And the ones who are mostly seem to be speaking in grainy videos from caves.

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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.