Representation of Muslim Women in Tariq Ali’s Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree

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Waseem Hassan Malik
Fozia Chandio
Zain ul Abdin

Abstract

This paper discusses the representation of Muslim women by Tariq Ali in Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree (2006). Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree is Ali’s first novel of Islam Quintet, a series of five historical novels about Muslims and their interaction/clash with the Christians. The novel is set in Spain after the fall of Granada -- one of the greatest Islamic Empire -- reclaimed by the Spanish Catholic armies of Isabella and Ferdinand of Castile from the Muslims in 1492. As Ali is a harsh critic of both the Western Oriental discourse about the Muslim women and the restrictions (in Ali’s view) that Islam imposed on the Muslim women, the study explores how Ali’s portrayal of Muslim women is different from Orientalist depiction of Muslim women as exotic, veiled and oppressed. It discusses whether the Muslim women in the novel have been portrayed as active social and political agents who played an important role in Andalusia’s rich and dynamic culture of learning and innovation or they have been depicted in traditional stereotyped gendered roles as passive, submissive agents who were confined to the domestic life. The related theoretical concepts of feminist Orientalism and post-colonial feminism have also been discussed that provide a theoretical background to the study. The text has been analysed in detail for the author’s treatment and portrayal of the female characters in the novel.

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