A Tale of Two Bananas

April 25th, 2018

Medium: Comic.

Week 12 Response: Literature and Arts as Critique and Resistance.

Title: A Tale of Two Bananas

In the 12th week of this course we learned about how literature and the arts have been used as a form of critique in contemporary Islamic societies. Two components of this week’s lectures and readings particularly struck me. The first of these was Salman Ahmed’s documentary from lecture and the second was Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel, “Persepolis.”

I felt the video shown from Salman Ahmed’s documentary really underscored the spell of ignorance under while some Islamic societies have fallen, and I could closely identify with most of the sentiments that were expressed by Salman Ahmed in the video.

Whereas, Salman Ahmed used the power of filmmaking to show the condition of the Mullahs in Peshawar, I felt equally captivated by Marjane Satrapi’s use of the graphic novel to illustrate life in pre-revolution Iran and her coming-of-age journey.

Therefore, in my response to this week’s lecture I’ve tried to incorporate elements from both these works. Inspired by Marjane Satrapi’s autobiographic graphic novel, I have tried to convey an experience from my childhood that I felt closely relates to the message that Salman Ahmed tried to convey his documentary

Perhaps the most important message conveyed in this comic, is one that has been emphasized throughout this course. In particular, how politicians/religious scholars sometimes use religion to serve their own personal ends. This is particularly pervasive in Muslim majority countries, where Islam is frequently employed by politicians when they feel they can use it to their own advantage, and is discarded otherwise. In this comic, the “Qari Saab,” an Urdu term used to refer to Quran teachers, uses Islam to fulfill his own personal desire. A trivial example that underscores a non-trivial issue.

Another message that I have gleaned from this course has been the importance of individual research, especially related to matters concerning religion. This course has highlighted how Islam is fundamentally a progressive religion, but the recent trend in Islamic societies has been regressive.One aspect of this regression has been a move away from literacy and individual learning. This eventually results in a situation where so-called Muslim “scholars” are given unprecedented power as most people feel that their knowledge is inadequate and believe everything that they are told.

Therefore, I try to end this comic with the message about how important it is to cross-check everything that we are told, and how only then can we counter the toxic influence of those that instrumentalize religion and propagate messages that have nothing to do with Islam.



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