November 1st, 2014

A major theme in the theme of “Complaint and Answer” is the feeling of victimhood. The poet who sends his plea to Allah, in the form of the first part of Iqbal’s work, explains how non-Muslims are succeeding while his people are suffering, asking God why he has allowed this to happen. God answers with the idea that they need to look around them: Other people are adhering to their faith, which explains their success. Muslims have strayed from the original path, it is argued, and if the poet issuing the complaint were to look around him, he would see and understand this to be fact.

The idea of answers to our prayers and problems being embedded in the society around us is a theme that I wanted to explore, so I considered a sort of feminist interpretation to complaints in the modern age, and illustrated the process with a comic strip. I show women in two societies, one where Islam is used to oppress women, and another where Western culture is used to oppress them, in order to demonstrate the universality of many of the problems that human beings face. They do not arise necessarily from culture, many are phenomena experienced by all.

This strip illustrates two women, kept from education in the relative dark, despite massive capability. They live in times where women are disadvantaged and abused through the legal system, and all they can think to do is send a plea to God, a question of why they must suffer as they are. As they wait, God says nothing, but sends them each a child – as marked by the first gifts of each culture to the child, it is a girl. The women, disheartened by this “gift” because of the knowledge of the difficulties their daughters will face, respond at first with tears, but on second thought by holding an umbrella for their children, shielding them from the hate and bigotry that was slung to them as young people. They give their daughters books and science materials to instill in them a love for learning, and when they succeed to see their girls engrossed in novels in school, the daughters experience shaming and mockery thrown at them because they are girls reading behind books, instead of gossiping or hanging out with the other classmates. They send their complaint to God and again, he answers with a daughter: This time, however, baby’s first gift is a book, instead of a covering/bow.

The idea that the answer to these girl’s complaints is twofold: First, a daughter to raise and strengthen and secondly, a mother who did so for them, explores the idea that the answers to our complaints are sometimes rooted in the societies and environments in which we exist. We must simply been brave enough to search for these answers.


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