This article examines the tenor of Islamic spirituality in Leila Aboulela’s The Translator (1999). By contrasting my analysis with those studies that lay excessive emphasis on the novel as symbolic of an East versus West theory, as well as a conflict between colonial and postcolonial societies, religions, and cultures, I argue that the novel is equally, if not more, about the spiritual faith of an ordinary Muslim woman grappling with emotional and psychological grief. Using several recent theories on Islamic feminism, including Saba Mahmood’s conceptualization of feminism beyond the predictable rubric of politics and activism, this paper emphasizes an appreciation of those aspects of Islam that translate into a Muslim’s daily life on a spiritual level. Typically divested of political activism or cultural conflicts, these aspects facilitate a genuine acknowledgement of the religion as a spiritual yet usable presence in the organization of quotidian issues, as seen in Aboulela’s novel.
Research Article|July 01 2013
Shirin Edwin; (Un)Holy Alliances: Marriage, Faith, and Politics in Leila Aboulela’s The Translator. Journal of Middle East Women's Studies 1 July 2013; 9 (2): 58–79. doi: https://doi.org/10.2979/jmiddeastwomstud.9.2.58
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