1. Celtika
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    Celtika Member

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    Need help with Islamic faith

    Discussion in 'Research' started by Celtika, Jun 29, 2013.

    One of my main characters is a British born Pakistani with strict Muslim parents. I don't plan on having his faith play a HUGE role in my story, but i would like to be reasonably accurate with the information i do apply to the story in regards to his faith, so i just wanted to know;

    1. I plan on having the father be a 'person of stature' in the muslim community. Is there a name for this? I'm not sure if i want him to be an Imam, but is there perhaps a name for somebody who is highly regarded in the community?

    2. As a Muslim aged 10-16 in the story, I want one of his main themes to be battling between the life of a typical Londoner, and his parents pushing for him to be a Strict Muslim. What sort of Classes(I'm not sure thats the right term to use) or Studies, would a Muslim such as his father try and push for him to do? Is there a generic set of rules that i can refer to when writing more about him? By this, i am talking about maybe Arabic/Urdu lessons etc

    3. Although i do not want the father to be perceived as racist, i DO want to write him as 'pushing' for his son to play a bigger role in the community. What would be some LOGICAL arguments he might make that would make for his son not to hang around with a typical London boy with a Christian background?

    4. When writing about this. Is there any particular areas of the religion i should stay away from? While i want to touch on religion in the story, i don't want it to play a hugely serious role, as it is likely to offend people. But religion does play an important part of my characters identity, so it's important to mention it.


    Thanks in advance for the help guys!
     
  2. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why are you afraid to offend - write your story and be damned!

    Apart from that, I dare say, being from London yourself, you haven't far to go to meet a 16year old British born Muslim boy with Pakistani parents. Go ask, sit down with a London born, Pakistani boy, have a coffee, you'll learn a lot more there than here.
     
  3. davidm
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    davidm Active Member

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    If you worry about offending people, you're already lost as a writer. Offend away! Or, as Glanton said to the native American in Blood Meridian who hovered over him with an ax, "Hack away, you mean red nigger!"

    Writing is the ax that breaks the frozen sea, or some such as Kafka said.

    I also agree with the above advice. Go out and meet some Muslims. Better than getting advice on a message board.
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    As has been stated, if you're worried about giving offense, then writing this story is not for you. There has to be conflict, and it seems you've already found your conflict, so if you're going to soft-shoe that conflict and deliver it in a, "I'm just saying, because I don't want you to think I'm mean or anything," kind of way, then go write Hello Kitty dialogue. If someone's jimmies aren't rustled, you've wasted paper.
     
  5. The Peanut Monster
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    The Peanut Monster Senior Member

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    I agree with the previous posters that don't worry about offending. I think where writing becomes hate speech thats a different matter but it sounds like this is not intended to be like that (I know that many may think that any text is fine (freedom of speech, etc), this is just my view, not intending to open up that can of worms!)

    What I would say though is that it's often easier to write about what you know. Something like Islam is complicated, and would require lots of research to portray accurately and realistically, especially if its a MC and there are religious pressure type themes. If you're willing to put in that time (online, perhaps even by meeting with members of the Islamic community in London), then good on you and your novel will definitely be better for it!
     
  6. Celtika
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    Well thanks for the help guys, i suppose they are all valid points. I guess maybe i got so roped up in the Political correctness of everyday life, that i forgot that writing is about expression!

    I think i'll probably leave 'gaps' in the novel until i learn more about the faith, and then fill them in accordingly.
     
  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Just curious. Whose POV will you be writing from? I'd be careful if it's the Muslim boy's as you are obviously an outsider to his religion and lifestyle. If, however, you write from the POV of his friend, whose lifestyle presumably you DO identify with, then you won't be pretending to know things you don't. You can write about the Muslim boy, from his friend's perspective—which will also be yours.

    I'd agree wholeheartedly with the people who said you should frame your questions as specifically as you can (you've done a pretty good job already) and then put them to someone who did grow up in a similar environment to your Muslim character. Never pass up an opportunity to get first-hand views of anything. They are always eye-openers.

    And of course, write honestly, without fear.
     
  8. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Pakistanis interpret Islam according to their own culture and socio-economic status, so really you want to research how Pakistani Muslims behave, not Islam. Also, they are a family that has immigrated to Britain, with all the guilt, problems and culture clash that can set up.
     
  9. Celtika
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    Celtika Member

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    The POV changed between characters from chapter to chapter. When i am writing from the young Muslims POV, i don't intend to focus too much on his domestic/religious events, so much as events that happen at school and in his social life. I don't want to go into HUGE detail on those aspects - because i honestly don't find the specifics of the religion particularly interesting to read/write about - but i would prefer to be as accurate as possible in what i DO write about.
     
  10. archerfenris
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    archerfenris Active Member

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    This. I have friends from Pakistan and friends from Kuwait. The religious beliefs of a sunni from Kuwait differ radically from those of a shia from Pakistan, or even a Sunni. I had Pakistani buddies telling me my Kuwaiti friend was a radical (right before I burst into laughter) because she refused to touch a drop of alcohol, something the Pakistanis thought was ridiculous. The same Kuwaiti would look at drug use as worst than alcohol, but in Afghanistan hash use is as frequent as the sun rising. You'll have to go find someone who fits the description of your character.

    Further, the main character's father DOES sound like he's prejudice. If he's trying to stop him from making British-Christian friends SIMPLY because they're British and Christian is the definition of prejudice. He'd make arguments about alcohol use or how his friend may not be able to pronounce his name right, etc, but it's all rhetoric.
     

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