In My Son the Fanatic, how could Ali be persuaded to integrate himself into Western society and not to fight against it?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted on

This is the number one question that comes out of the short story.  I think that there has to be a better attempt to reach out to these particular individuals.  The statistics speak to this and to how Ali's generation needs to be reached:

Insecure, lacking self-confidence, haunted by failure and by personal experiences of deprivation, racism and, since 9/11, oppressive anti-terrorist measures and increasing Islamophobia: these are some of the elements which give such compelling force to the common identity this generation finds in being Muslim and the increasing confidence with which they assert it as a political identity.

Like all generations of those who are disenfranchised, government has to reach out to these individuals.  Ensuring that economic progress is evident in communities of those who feel the pain of economic weakness is vitally important.  At the same time, I think that there has to be more of a extension to the spiritual leaders of the Muslim community.  The Imams and Muslim clerics do not benefit nor are they pleased when so many of their youth are dying or being arrested.  There is a way to bridge the West with Islamic notions of the good.  Reaching out to these spiritual leaders becomes vital in this process.  No one is doubting that there should be spirituality in these young people's lives.  Parvez is just as guilty as anyone else for not being able to bring out this spiritual side in his son and channeling it to improve his community and those within it.  For Parvez, religion is a dirty word.  His son's embrace of it is a source of shame.  I think that this becomes another part of the equation.  Whereas Parvez's generation was driven by assimilation, economic progress, and the need to acquire social status, there has to be a recalibration fo focus on religion and spirituality for their children.  I think that Kurieshi's work and the implications of it allows us to see that if there is a solution, it exists on political, communitarian, and domestic levels.  All three forces have to converge to helping out this particular generation that feels a negative distinction in being "Young, Muslim, and British."

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blubb | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

At the end Ali is in a state where I believe it is almost impossible to persuade him since he is so absorbed in his fanatic ideas that he doesn't even see anything else. But in order to help him integrate, people should ask what exactly he's fighting against and why. He used to have friends and he was a good student, so people have to find out what exactly has happened that got him completely changed. Then people should show him another way of life, show him that there are good alternatives to what he's doing now, and also try and understand his point of view. I believe he'd need lots of support and suggestions for what he could do instead. Maybe if people tried to understand his religious belief (only Islam, not the fanatic things) a bit more, he wouldn't feel so left out anymore and he wouldn't get that angry.

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