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.


Works Cited:

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