Week 13: Islam in Europe

Filed under: Uncategorized — fatimashahbaz at 11:17 am on Tuesday, December 10, 2019

For this piece, I was inspired by our reading My Son the Fanatic┬áin Week 13 by Hanif Kureishi. The short story is centered around an immigrant father’s concern over a change in his son’s behavior. Throughout the story, we learn through bits and pieces that his son has become more religious, to the point where he could be considered a “fundamentalist” or a “fanatic” for his devout following and submission to Islam. Throughout the story, we see the son challenge the father for his unIslamic practices, and the father grow increasingly frustrated with his. son. But it all escalates once the son disrespects his father’s “friend” on the basis of her occupation as a prostitute, which pushes the father into a blind rage. The story ends with the father violently beating the son, and the phrase “who is fanatic now?”

I specifically chose to use paint, as opposed to any other artistic material, in the piece because of its inherently bold and messy nature. The word fanatic is bold. It holds power. It has the ability to cast a judgment on others practice, but by inverting the color and the depiction of the two figures, we turn that judgement into a guessing game–who is a fanatic? Who has the power to call the other out? I intentionally depicted both figures as somewhat ominous and out of place to connect to Kureishi’s writing about alienation and xenophobia growing up as a Pakistani Muslim in the UK. Neither figure is accepted by the viewer on first glance. Both are considered strange and ominous, even though one may try as hard as they can. We don’t know who the true fanatic is, because both can be considered fanatic for different reasons: one for their devotion to a dogmatic, fundamentalist Islam, and the other for their blind acceptance of Western society.

 

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