To Be or Not to Be what The London Eye Sees

What happens when a home fire erupts within a family at the intersection of nationality and religion? In Kamila Shamsie’s Home Fire (2017), Parvaiz, his twin Aneeka and older sister Isma all have individual experiences of what it means to be British and Muslim in contemporary society. Whether it be Isma’s travel to and from the United States, Aneeka’s relationship with Eamonn or Parvaiz becoming “the terrorist son of a terrorist father,” each of their Muslim identities are shaped by their home in London. Parvais getting to know Farooq is a transformation in perspective of the religion he has always known from a distance, it is a reexamination of his self-image outside of a UK gaze. (Shamsie 175)

 

Related imageParvaiz and Farooq often meet up while he is in London, and on one occasion they are talking about his sister and the role of women by quoting the Quran. Parvaiz relates to his earlier life and what his Muslim identity has meant for him growing up in Britain. Shamsie writes, “religion had, since early childhood, been a space he’d vacated rather than live in it in the shadow of Isma’s superiority. But in Farooq’s company he came to see there was such a thing as an ‘emasculated version of Islam…’” (133). The author’s use of imagery through the words “vacated” and “live” regarding the space in life where one engages with religion depicts Parvaiz’s rejection of his older sister’s power to shape his ideas of his own Muslim identity. The word “shadow” for Parvais suggests a superficial idea of Islam that he has not fully understood until Farooq introduces the notion of Islam in Britain as “emasculated” (133).

Imagery allows the reader to see how Parvaiz has understood himself in the past as he begins to evolve his own ideas in “Farooq’s company” (133). The image of vacating a space within his Muslim identity and entering a newly discovered one that is more radical gives him room to change according to the beliefs he has about women. In this scene, Shamsie makes it clear that being British and Muslim is an intersection that Parvaiz has been unable to fully grasp. The version of his religion that has been the default in his home does not align with the ideals he is developing and creating in the presence of a significant figure outside of his family.

What’s being illustrated is not simply how Parvais lives as a Muslim person within British society, but rather the way he chooses to accept or deny parts of a Muslim identity that is normalized within the British society he is raised in. 

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Works Cited

Shamsie, Kamila. Home Fire. New York, Riverhead Books, 2017

 

 

Can You be Both Muslim and British?

Ziauddin Yousafzai, an educational activist, stated this remarkable quote, “I have multiple identities. I’m British. I’m Pakistani. I’m a Muslim. I’m a writer. I’m a father. And each identity has rich overtones. So I must be careful to look at your identity, and that of others, in the same way.” The novel, Home Fire (2017), by Kamila Shamsie, also explores the multiple identities of humans.

The first 183 pages of the novel, Home Fire, takes us through the perspectives of Isma, Aneeka, Eammon, then Parvaiz. The story is set in London where Isma is the older sister of twins, Aneeka and Parvaiz. Having lost their both their parents, one whom was seen as a terrorist by Britain (the father), we see the different paths these characters life takes them on and the intersection of their Muslim and British identities. Isma takes off to America to further her education while Aneeka is attending Law school in London on a full scholarship, and Parvaiz leaves to Syria under the influence of Farooq, a man who claims he can teach him more about his father but later shows to be false. More Specifically, I will focus on Aneeka who is dating Eamonn, the Secretary of the State’s son, and how her multiple identities, Women, British, and Muslim, oppose each other in existing in Britain.

On page 72, Aneeka is staying over at Eamonn’s apartment where they were previously having sex, and a few hours later, it is time for her to pray according to her Muslim religion. Shamsie writes, “He should have left immediately, but he couldn’t help watching this woman, this stranger, prostrating herself to God in the room where she’d been down on her knees for a very different purpose just hours earlier” (72). Shamise uses imagery to display different perspectives of Aneeka based on her different identities and how they are at odds.

The quote produces effects of imagery because words such as “this woman,this stranger” paints a picture of Aneeka being someone Eamonn doesn’t know despite that being his girlfriend. She is “prostrating herself to God” showing us that she is praying, but that image is contrasted with the earlier actions of her being, “down on her knew for a very different purpose just hours ago.” The words, “This woman, this stranger,” implies that Aneeka is not someone Eammon knows. Painting a picture of someone different then who he has been with a few hours prior. The images brought up by the words, “He should have left immediately,” are one of non-belonging and out of place for Eammon in the room. The reason he feels like this is because the actions of Aneeka currently playing is juxtaposed with the image of her being on her knees earlier for sexual activities.

The imagery produces these effects because it produces a juxtaposition of Aneeka being a woman and having sex to her being Muslim while living in Britain.This juxtaposition implies that these two activities can not be done or is not expected to be done by the same person, especially not in that frame of time.The connotations brought up by his uneasiness is the setting they live in, London where being Muslim is not seen as parallel to being Britain. This reveals the Women identity, Muslim, and British identity of Aneeka. It also reveals how it is not easy for all three of her identities to be seen as inter-sectional in the British society as shown by Eamonn’s surprise by her praying after having sex, calling her, “this woman, this stranger.” This Imagery illuminates the lack of and inability for Aneeka to freely intertwine and express both her gender, being Muslim, and being British.These effects produced by this imagery are important because it shows how hard it is for Aneeka integrate her different identities in everyday situations.

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Works Cited

“Ziauddin Sardar.” AZQuotes.com. Wind and Fly LTD, 2019. 07 March 2019. https://www.azquotes.com/quote/1410938

Shamsie, Kamila. Home Fire. Riverhead Books, 2017.

Jigari Dost

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie is a 2017 novel depicting the journeys of several contemporary characters through living as a Muslim in the 21st century. The novel thus far has followed the characters of Isma, Eamonn, and Parvaiz as they navigate the intersections between their Muslim and British identities. In the novel, Parvaiz has been recruited into ISIS by Farooq, an individual who he encounters in his London neighborhood. Farooq allured Parvaiz with his claims of the equity that joining ISIS would provide him, and upon his arrival in Istanbul, Parvaiz appreciated the beauty of the sky-high minarets and general atmosphere of his new environment. However, upon being exposed to the brutality of life as a recruit, he develops a desire to return to his home in England. All the while, his sister Aneeka worries profusely about Parvaiz, while Isma wants no part of her brother’s life. Parvaiz’s section of the novel concludes with his approaching the British consulate in an attempt to secure a pass to England.

On page 137, Parvaiz describes his relationship with Farooq: “Parvaiz sipped the tea — too weak — and looked around the flat, trying to find any further clues to his yaar’s life. The Urdu word came closer than ‘friend’ to explaining how he thought of Farooq. Or even better, jigari dost — a friendship so deep that it was lodged within you, could not be cut out without leaving a profound, perhaps fatal, wound.” By using the phrase “jigari dost,” Parvaiz evokes a feeling of intimacy and connection that is partially incomprehensible to the reader. Presumably, the reader of the novel does not know Urdu, and thus this phrase is not familiar to them. By using a non-English phrase to define Parvaiz’s perception of Farooq, Shamsie is defining Parvaiz’s perception of Farooq as something that can not be readily understood by the reader, as the language itself is not readily understood by the reader. The use of an non-English phrase further signifies Parvaiz’s internal transition to defining himself as more Muslim than British by creating a divide between the reader’s understanding of Parvaiz’s British life and his life in ISIS. This transition, of course, is defined by the radicalized Farooq, and should not be interpreted to indicate that a Muslim identity is synonymous with a terrorist affiliation or that a Muslim identity is incompatible with a British identity. Parvaiz’s perception of Farooq as a friend that “could not be cut out without leaving a profound, perhaps fatal wound” however, enforces that Farooq is the primary factor that is defining Parvaiz’s identity at this point in the novel. This effect is significant because it shows that Farooq is tempting Parvaiz to entirely discard all elements of his identity that do not fit within the expectations of his group. Specifically, we can see that Parvaiz feels pressured by Farooq to discard his British identity. Parvaiz feels, as a result of Farooq’s guidance, that his British identity is incompatible with his Muslim identity, and therefore, it must be discarded.

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Works Cited

Shamsie, Kamila. Home Fire. Riverhead Books, 2017.

Two Identities, One Decision B3

In the novel Home Fire (2017) by Kamila Shamsie, all the characters have an internal conflict with their British and Muslim identities. Parvaiz, is conflicted with his identity, as he begins to learn about his father. He never knew his father, so when he learns about him, he wants to be just like him, he sees him as a hero that fought for Iraq; his country. He believes that by learning more about his father, he will be more connected with him and his Muslim identity would be more prominent.

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Shamsie states, “Muslim men need to be detained, harassed, pressed against the ground with a heel on our throat,” (135).  The quote uses imagery to represent how Muslim men are treated in Britain. Muslim men are mistakenly viewed as a threat. The quote does not explain Parvaiz’s experience as a Muslim man in Britain, but it does explain how he feels. He did not understand, until he started to learn about his father, Adil Pasha. Adil Pasha was not talked about in Parvaiz’s family, they avoided bringing him up. To Parvaiz’s family, Adil willingly left them to return to Islam to fight, which resulted to him being labeled as a terrorist in Britain, preventing him from coming back home to his family. That was the version Parvaiz grew up knowing until he met Farooq, a young Muslim man that told him stories of the war and the experiences both of their father’s had.

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From Farooq’s stories, Parvaiz uncovered that his father was not wrong for leaving. Farooq explained that Britain is not welcoming to migrants and that Islam is because there is no differentiating between race, class, and skin color. In Islam everyone is accepted and important, not ignored. Farooq put this idea in Parvaiz’s head. Since Britain could do nothing for him, he should put his energy elsewhere, such as Islam, a country he belongs to and that cares about him. This is like what his father did, because he left everything back in Britain, such as his family to go to war in Islam because he believed in something bigger than himself: his country. The quote emphasis this bigger picture, which is belonging and acceptance. Parvaiz began to only consider himself Muslim. His Muslim identity and understanding his father were not emphasized enough, so now that he has the chance to learn more, he is going to take advantage of it.

Works Cited

Shamsie, Kamila. Home Fire. Riverhead Books, 2017.

 

Parvaiz’s British and Muslim Identity Struggle

 

Who are you? are you suddenly tongue tide to answer this question? In British-Pakistani author Kamila Shamsie’s 2017 “Home Fire” novel the character Parvaiz is a complex dimensional character, that tries to discover his identity. Parvaiz has two sisters, Isma and Aneeka, who live in Great Britain. Isma decided to move to Massachusetts to obtain her PHd in Sociology. While in Massachusetts Isma met Eamonn, the son of the home secretary, Karamat Lone. Aneeka is a law student, Eamonn visists Aneekas home and the two begin a complicated yet passionate romance that results in a proposal and multiple fights. Parvaiz is recruited into joining ISIS by Farooq. Farooq uses Parvaiz’s father in order to convince Parvaiz that his father was a great man and his legacy must be continued.

More specifically, the scene that this post will focus on is the scene in which Farooq is trying to convince Parvaiz that the reason for his unhappiness is his sisters’ fault. Farroq says that Isma and Aneeka keep him in the house in order for him to do chores for them, they have done this by keeping Parvaiz dependent on them in a childlike state, where he depends on Isma like a child depends on their mother. Farooq specially blames Isma for having extensive control over Parvaiz. He quotes the Quran and says that ‘Men are in charge of women’. Farooqs words turned in Parvaizs mouth and it made him think to himself,

“He was a Muslim, of course; he believed in God, and went to the mosque for Eid prayers, and put aside 2.5 percent of his income for zakat, which he split between Islamic Relief and the library campaign, but beyond that, religion had, since early child hood been a space he’d vacated rather than live in it in the shadow of Isma’s superiority” (Shamsie 133).

In this quote the most outstanding literary device is metaphor. This metaphor is seen in the line “Religion had, since early childhood been a space he’d vacated”, the metaphor compares religion to a physical space. This implicates that religion is a physical space that he can step in and out of off, and that in this case he stepped out of during his early childhood. Ismas superiority caused him to vacate the space of religion and puts up a barrier between him and his Muslim identity. Parvaiz didn’t completely separate himself from religion, he “believed in God, and went to the mosque for Eid prayers and put aside 2.5 percent of his income for Zakat” (133). He touched the surface level of religion but separated himself from the deep aspects of being Muslim. This is the ideal British identity according to Karamat Lone, an identity he no longer feels comfortable with.

In the metaphor the word “vacate” meaning is important because it shows the absence of Parvaiz’s presence in his Muslim religious life. The metaphor of comparing religion to physical space creates an image of an object, for instance a room. Religion can be seen as a room that Parvaiz smoothly touches the surface of but does not enter to. In addition, the space has a shadow that is created from Ismas superiority, Parvaiz is allowed to travel to the center through “the shadow of Ismas superiority” (133). In addition, Parvaiz is not able to “live in” the space that he vacated which further distances him from religion.

This metaphor points out the important turning point in Parvaiz’s religious connection in which he makes religion a space he can dominate as a result of Farook’s influence. His British and Muslim influence can be distinguished by his dominance in the “space” of religion. Parvaizs British identity is subservient to Ismas and in his Muslim identity he can take charge of how and what he does with his life. He can now fully take part in his Muslim Identity and leave his British identity behind.

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Works Cited:

Shamsie, Kamila. Home Fire. Riverhead Books, 2017.

Interrogating Identity–Literally

The word “identity” is often thrown around as if it is something constant that everyone has. However, identity can be incredibly difficult to navigate. In her novel Home Fire (2017), Kamila Shamsie tells the story of the Pasha siblings, who are British, Muslim, and orphaned. Parvaiz, twin of Aneeka and the only boy of the siblings, falls for ISIS propaganda because he feels lost, longs for a connection to his dead father, and because the racism and anti-Muslim violence of Britain make it difficult for him to construct an identity as a British Muslim. In Parvaiz’s narrative, Shamsie uses rhetorical questions to illustrate what Parvaiz comes to feel is the irreconcilability of the United Kingdom’s history of violence against Muslim people and British Muslim identity.

After he learns that his eldest sister, Isma, will be moving to America and selling the family home, Parvaiz drifts under the influence of Farooq, an older ISIS fighter who seeks to recruit him. In the process of recruiting Parvaiz, Farooq asks him a series of rhetorical questions that target Parvaiz’s precarious sense of national and religious identity.

M15 officers were present at Bagram, Farooq told him, and showed him evidence to corroborate that. Your government, the one that took taxes from your family and claimed to represent the people, knew what was going on. How can you live in this place, accepting, after all that you now know? How can you live in this mirage of democracy and freedom? What kind of man are you, what kind of son are you? (Shamsie 150-1)

These questions contain their own answers. By calling Parvaiz’s home “this place,” Farooq distances him from it. By juxtaposing his connection to Britain with Britain’s histories of violence and a lack of masculinity and family loyalty, Farooq makes it impossible for Parvaiz to answer that he can live in Britain. This quote is part of Parvaiz’s third-person internal monologue, which shows how Farooq’s questions have entered his mind and begun to shape every aspect of how he sees the world.

Farooq’s questions also get at a true inconsistency in Parvaiz’s supposed citizenship and belonging. Although Farooq’s intentions are manipulative, many of the images and facts that he presents to Parvaiz are accurate. Britain does participate in torture abroad, and racism at home. By presenting questions that contain their own answers, Shamsie demonstrates how untenable British Muslim identity is for Parvaiz.

 

Works Cited

Shamsie, Kamila. Home Fire. Riverhead Books, 2017.

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