Saturday, 11 August 2012


Finally, a novel that touches on the topic of marriage from a male perspective and a Muslim one, at that!

The protagonist of 'The Reluctant Mullah' by Sagheer Afzal is Musa, a 'holy man' or mullah. Musa battles the conventions of his Pakistani Muslim background, while growing up in British society.

Having caused mischief at his madrasah, he gets kicked out. His parents believe that the only way he will mature is through marriage. His grandfather or 'Dadaji' arranges a marriage for him back home, but Musa is dead set against it. He is given one month to find his own bride or suffer the consequences.

Now, how to find that 'one' in just a month? With the help of his employer, two friends, his brother and his sister, Musa learns how to look the look, walk the walk, and talk the talk. But, how to change the fact that he's a dreamer? He believes that he can make reality meet with the dreamworld, whereby he can marry his ideal woman. And thus, like the dating game, one by one, he meets his candidates.

This is not a chauvinistic novel. Although from a male perspective, Sagheer also touches on issues that Muslim women, particularly Asian women, face on a daily basis, including the topics of drugs, sex, alcohol or just having to explain the nikab/hijab. The female characters in 'The Reluctant Mullah' are, for the most part, outspoken...not afraid to speak their minds or give you a piece of their minds!

Good vs. evil in the Islamic sense is a major theme and propellant of the novel. And it appears that this question of morality is often answered from the very person that Musa rebelled against in the first place: his Dadaji. Although what Dadaji says might seem jibberish, the underlying messages are as clear as glass. He is the epitome of wisdom.

Little does Musa know that joining his local Islamic Centre as a leader of group discussions on Islamic topics will change his outlook on life, completely.

Filled with the roller coaster of emotions, this novel will have you either tearfully laughing or tearfully crying. It's filled with hilarity and sorrow. It is light-hearted, yet thought-provoking. Sagheer is an intellectual author.

I have a request for Mr. Sagheer Afzal: if you ever decide to turn your novel into a script, please make me your screenwriter!

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