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The story of Khadra in the book "The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf" exposes to us how it is like growing up in America as an Islam. The issues of racial and religious bigotry as well as the kind of political relations between the Middle East and America come out clearly in this work. The main character is Khadra and her community comprise of Muslim fundamentalists in the Middle East as well as missionaries who settled in Indianapolis forty years back. As conservative Muslims, Khadra and her family are focused on shielding their religion as well as themselves from corruption and what they regard as bad politics.
The first half of the book focuses on the main character as she grows up in America and the earlier years of elementary school. It also highlights how she deals with issues of racist abuses and wearing hijaab for the first time. As she grows older, her tranquil world and principles slowly comes under scrutiny from different corners. One significant encounter can be seen half way through the book when Khadra together with her family makes a trip to Mecca for the annual Hajj (Kahf 69).
While at Hajj, the American Islam that they were used to comes in contact with the real Islam i.e. the Islam of Hajj, and specifically that of Saudi Arabia. She gets arrested by police on her way to the mosque for morning prayers since this is not allowed for women in this part of the world. Still, she is harassed by her cousin's friends who reside in Saudi Arabia making her become aware of how much her tranquil world is susceptible. Because of this, despite the fact that, as a Muslim she was in a Muslim nation and actually where the religion all started, she felt as if she was far away from home.
She slowly becomes aware of the fact that, her notion concerning her religion and its practices is actually split from its wider practice. Because of this, she ends up growing attached to her own idyllic Islam. She manages to find the essential balance that gives her the room to hold onto her religion while at the same time recognizing the constraints and the contradictions that center around its many practices.
The writer succeeds to reveal Khadra's desire to discard the too spiritual fissure in her life so as to set out on a journey to discern reality. In the journey, apart from a handful of significant encounters, she mostly encounters enumerations of tales and ordinary events. One event that alters Khadra's life completely is when she was sexually assaulted. This really challenges her understanding of who a Muslim really is and who she herself is (Curtis 66). Khadra's decision to have an abortion within the timeframe that she thought was permissible according to her religion crumble's her marriage, and at the same time causes a serious rift between her and her family and community. She later moves to Syria, where she finds from her great-aunt information regarding her family history. As per the information and knowledge she acquires from her aunt and uncle there, she starts to appreciate her parents' decision of relocating to America, a place she timidly understands as home.
When she later returns to America, she decides to make Philadelphia her new home. There she enrolls for photography studies and keeps away from her family. It is only after a couple of years that she is able to go back home realizing that she cannot just simply put aside her family that she grew up alongside (Kahf 213). This is despite the fact that, she often disagreed with them. She dismisses the judgmental attitudes of both her religious and even non-religious peers. This shows how her development as a person was much more advanced than the others, thus making her path look more self reflective than the others (Kahf 221).
Two significant themes with progressive ideologies that really shows how Khadra changes the way she looks at herself is in the way, she starts to believe that, Islam is not the one and only true religion, the only one accepted by Allah for that case. She starts believing that she does not have to follow the laws of Islam. She also tends to think that, to sacrifice certain things for Allah is not deemed as being something good. Instead, it should be considered as being an act of repression. One gets the feeling that, she is developing the common "it feels good then do it" mentality whether the Shari'ah approves it or not.
The story exposes to us how it is like growing up in America and dealing with the issues of racial and religious bigotry as well as the kind of political relations between the Middle East and America. Khadra the main character and her community comprises of Muslim fundamentalists in the Middle East as well as missionaries who settled in Indianapolis years back. As conservative Muslims, Khadra and her family are focused on shielding their religion as well as themselves from corruption and what they regard as bad politics. However, after a visit to the Hajj, she starts to change the way she sees herself and in the process makes certain decision that develops a rift between her and her family. She ends up convincing herself that, Islam is not the one and only true religion, the only one accepted by Allah.