If Changez’s narrative in The Reluctant Fundamentalist is read as a confession, it can be viewed as the confession of an American Muslim who evolves into a religious fundamentalist and a political radical. The confession is that of an American who secretly loathes the American culture, its capitalistic society, and its political ideologies, particularly its foreign policies. It is the confession of a young man who has faced the personal effects of Islamophobia inside post-9/11 America.
If Changez’s narrative is read as a memoir, the most pivotal moment is the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The event not only marked a monumental turning point in American and global history, but also marked the beginning of a political and religious awakening among the disaffected Muslim youth of the world.
The details of what Changez experienced as a young Muslim in post-9/11 America illuminate a perspective that is essential in understanding Islamic zealotry. The details of his experiences during this time period also reveal the complex and tense dynamics between non-Muslim and Muslim Americans.