Discursive Representation of the Troubling Position of Islam in Anglophone Pakistani Fiction: A Critical Analysis

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Asma Aftab


The present paper seeks to understand the complex representation of Islam in Pakistani English writings as a significant site of public discourse. Owing to the vital significance of Islam, one can rightly consider Islam as one of the most vital trajectories that constitutes Pakistan’s historical and intellectual landscape. On the other hand, the contemporary Pakistani English writings, as they are shaped within the crucible of collective history and politics, have engaged with the place and position of Islam in the spheres of community (private) and state (public) simultaneously. By employing a comparative reading of Muhammad Hanif, Nadeem Aslam, and Uzma Aslam Khan as representative voices of contemporary Pakistani fiction, the article offers some critical angles to view their fictional and fictionalized worlds in terms of their representation of Islam. In so doing, my reading foregrounds the subtle distinction between Islam and Islamization by referring to the former as a belief system and cultural code whereas later is an institutionalized, often a more oppressive imposition of Islamic ideology on some people. The article analyzes how Islam has been contextualized in the creative and imaginative settings of these writers so as to conflate this vital distinction and this in turn, has some serious ontological and cognitive effects on the reading community. The paper concludes by underscoring the need to have a nuanced and contextualized understanding of Islam and its complex representation in the literary discourse produced by Anglophone Pakistani writers at both home and diaspora. In so doing, I attempt to highlight the need to appreciate the public imperative of Islam and its diverse expression in both community and state so as to deconstruct the dominant discursive representation in Anglophone

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Cluster on Pakistani Anglophone Writing