Islamophobia and (Wes)toxification: A Hermeneutical and phenomenological reading of John Updike’s TERRORIST

Authors

  • Muhammad Afzal Faheem Lecturer, Department of English and Literary Studies, University of Management and Technology, Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
  • Muhammad Asif Assistant Professor, Department of English and Literary Studies, University of Management and Technology, Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
  • Sameer Ahmed Assistant Professor, Department of English Language and Literature, GC University, Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.47205/plhr.2023(7-II)39

Keywords:

Re)symbolisation, Aesthetic Mode Of Reading, Islamophobia, Wes(toxification)

Abstract

This research takes up the dialectical presentation of Terrorist by John Updike to underscore the actively mediating presence of the reader(s) in treating meaning as an event. Drawing on Rosenblatt’s ‘aesthetic mode’ of reading, this paper argues that the determinate and indeterminate meaning(s) of Terrorist perpetuate Islamophobia, ethnocentrism, and Eurocentrism in the (mis)informed reader. The central character of Terrorist, Ahmad, is systematically indoctrinated by the Imam, Shaikh Rashid, and simultaneously manipulated by the CIA operative, Charlie Chehab, to deliver ‘Hutama’ on the nonbelievers/Americans. The dialectical presentation of Terrorist invites the reader to see the Imam as inciting Ahmad to advance his suicidal mission. At the same time, there is some sort of balancing act at work with the CIA’s active incitement to Ahmad to blow up Lincoln’s Tunnel. While the ‘West’ here is also implicated in violent jehad and the hijacking of Ahmad’s critical orientation, the primary mover is the Muslim prayer leader, and by extension, the place of worship, the mosque, the act of worship itself. So, as informed readers participate in the dialectics of meaning construction, they do so not in isolation, but in the (overbearing) presence of existing views, representations and prismatic constructions of Islam. In this sense the reader is (mis)informed to maintain and support stereotypes of Islam, which Terrorist is superficially questioning.

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Published

2023-04-14

Details

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How to Cite

Faheem, M. A., Asif, M., & Ahmed, S. (2023). Islamophobia and (Wes)toxification: A Hermeneutical and phenomenological reading of John Updike’s TERRORIST. Pakistan Languages and Humanities Review, 7(2), 448–454. https://doi.org/10.47205/plhr.2023(7-II)39