“In Praise of Hatred” vs “Muslim Girl”: Coming to Age Books Analyses

August 9, 2021

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Two books, the Muslim Girl: Coming of Age and In Praise of Hatred, portray the events occurring within the Arabic society. However, whereas the first one represents the memoirs, the second edition is a complete fiction. At the same time, both of them have the great impact on readers, the perception of the Arabic community and Muslim females. The topics that are concerned by these books are not trivial. The authors offer the unique perspectives on the background of the Muslim life and religion. They question many stereotypes that are related to the lives of Muslim females. The role of gender stereotypes is definitely reflected in both stories. However, it is worth rather to trace the influence that religion has had in both books and demonstrate how it can be exploited to fight the social stereotypes, as well as reshape the view on women within the society. Both stories demonstrate different narrations of females and their use of religion to rebel.

The religion has a powerful impact on everyone’s life. Within the Arabic society, religious norms replace the legal ones. Therefore, everything that is written within the sacral texts is applicable to the community members. The challenging of religious norms is considered to be rather impossible due to the closeness of the Arabic society. Additionally, a person needs a powerful authority to revise religious rules. Thus, the only option that is left to a Muslim woman is to reconsider the ways, in which she can use the religion to leverage from it and to justify or support the opinion with the references to the religion. The characters in the books apply religious norms to improve their status within the Arabic society.

In the book In Praise of Hatred, the author retells the narrations of many females, each of which is directly affected by religion and gender issues within the community. However, when the rebellion enters the city of Aleppo the nameless girl, a protagonist of the story, opts out to challenge the social foundations and join the opposing troops. In this case, the religious beliefs and the faith were used as a justification cause to join the army and leave the house. In fact, in this case, the girl realized the impact that the religion had played within the society. She respected it; yet, she managed to use it properly to raise her voice and draw attention. Within the community she was honored by everyone. Therefore, supporting the argument with the references to the religious texts meant to win the debate. Once again, the story demonstrates that the religion, just as legal rules, can be interpreted to benefit both sides of a conflict. When the revolution comes into the city it is far easier to doubt regulations of society than during the years of peace and harmony. It is necessary to remember that the conflict, as the one being described within the books, emerges long before the escalation. It concerns not only the political but also social, cultural, and gender issues. In this case, the nameless girl merely benefits from the upraising within the city to take an advantage of it personally and break the chains that limited her freedom and desire to live.

The key female characters of the book In Praise of Hatred also used the religion in their daily lives to improve their positions. One of them, aunt Marwa used believing as the salvation from her hard life with brothers and other uncles. The story transcends the feeling of loneliness and claustrophobia. In fact, all of them were the hostages of religion and community. The rise of the protest movement provided them with hope that something might change in future, and that eventually all of them would get the revision of their status. Naturally, in a certain way, everybody became somehow involved in the opposition movements. The symbol of butterflies as the released protesters inspired aunt Marwa and provided her with more energy to fight. She was also quite capable of using the religion to benefit her own interests. In fact, she was the most frivolous female among all other characters. Therefore, she did not miss an opportunity to back up her opinion with the references to the religion. As the nameless girl notes, “Marwa had such gentleness and nobility in dealing with the night. Her presence made me acknowledge that I was a young woman, groping towards new tastes” (Khalifa 32). Similarly, as Amani in the book Muslim Girl: Coming of Age, she appealed to religious foundations and principles to persuade the others of her point of view and win the dispute. Of course, such actions could be quite manipulating. However , considering the context of the story, her actions can be justified. The nameless girl notes that “Marwa encouraged my daring in breaking with long-established cooking traditions, while Safaa whispered with Zahra briefly and appeared grave and bewildered” (Khalifa 76). Therefore, aunt Marwa was a rebel from the very beginning. The protesting activities within the city only encouraged her willingness to uphold the societal rules and change her privileges.

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The religion might also serve as a powerful uniting factor for raising the voices of those ones, who are oppressed, discriminated or against stereotypes. The book Muslim Girl: Coming of Age definitely demonstrates how the religion might be manipulated. The story retells about Amani, the girl who has initiated the launching of the website. It was the Muslim Girl, who destroyed the stereotypes regarding the Muslim culture and religion. The world after the tragedy of 9/11 perceived all Muslims in a rather stereotypical way. They all, including women, were considered threatening the security and safety of others. Moreover, the perception of a Muslim woman was also stereotyped. As Amani Al-Khatahtbeh asserts,

You have to wear a head scarf, of course, because the media’s lazy perception of Muslim women — and the only visual they’re keen to perpetuate — is that all of them wear head scarves. Plus, the Muslim community can more easily see you as a woman leader if you satisfy this requirement. (93)

Amani has appealed to religion as the strongest factor that is applied to the Muslim community. She followed the rules of the Arabic society as well as met the expectations of the surrounding in satisfying the requirements regarding her manner of communication and the outside appearance. At the same time, the religion was still a tool to attract others. It was determined to show that the community was safe and arranged in accordance with the same rules prevailing in the Arabic world. Yet, it simply offered the unique perspective on the variety of convenient things. The book actually demonstrates the way, in which the females can apply the technology as well as religion in order to raise their voice and build the society. The religion in this case has served as a bridge uniting different woman and offering them the platform for communication. Therefore, from a view of this book and the memoirs mentioned, it should be stressed that the religion as the set of rules is expected to limit the female rights and roles, especially in the Arabic world. In this case, it has been used as the factor that united many people. It was rather a means for accessing the community. These females were not about to challenge the social order but rather to understand how they could leverage from their positions and how to live within the new circumstances.

In this regard, the book Muslim Girl: Coming of Age is a more successful story of applying the religion to solve the problems that were important for Muslim women. The platform that has united females on religious matters has resulted in a greater synergy of efforts of many people. In this case, Amani has consolidated a lot of individuals and offered them an opportunity to raise their voices and concerns. They could communicate their ideas and the visions of the world to other Arabic countries, in particular. The changes within the society are sometimes caused not by the revolutions and bloody revolts as in the book In Praise of Hatred. However, the shifts could be done through such little platforms for human interaction. These peaceful revolts in mind based on the common trust to the religion might latter transform into bigger social movements and positive changes.

The use of religion for reaching the one’s goals is rather pragmatic and manipulative. Yet, it should be stressed that all these females have been left with a few or no options to choose from. The Arabic society is leaded by men. The women’s voices are frequently oppressed. However, comparing both stories, it should be stressed that Amani has used the religion in the most appropriate way. One of its functions in the today’s world is to prevent people from conflicting with one another and unite them around only one idea. The platform that has been created by the author has actually served that purpose in the most efficient way. Having used the religion as a magnet, she concerned the themes that were important for Muslim females. On the other hand, the materials published on the website destroyed the stereotypes regarding eastern women. She preserved the form of appeal but changed the essence and succeeded. It is expected that in the future she will most probably inspire other females within the Arabic community to follow her example and challenge the foundations preventing them from enjoying their freedoms. Of course, it might have a different version and take a different form than within the Western civilization. However, still, it might widen the scope of the rights granted to women. Eventually, similar platforms help to decrease the social pressure and ensure that the bloody conflicts will not occur.

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In conclusion, both books demonstrate the way, in which the religion holds the potential for affecting the one’s life and the methods, through which it can be used to reach the personal goals. The character of the story Muslim Girl: Coming of Age was definitely more successful considering the impact that her platform had had on the lives of others and the overall reach of it. She employed the religion to unite people and persuade them that her place was safe. She stated that everyone could freely share the ideas within the community. It also concerned the world society as she reached the others and challenged the direction that the others used to perceive Muslims.