Book Recommendations, Booksish Discussions, Muslim Shelf Space, The Daevabad Trilogy

Why Alizayd Al-Qahtani from The City of Brass Means So Much To Me

It’s no secret how much I adore the Daevabad trilogy by now. I am completely and entirely captivated by the books and there is so many reasons why I love these books, but I am going to discuss one of the many reasons today. That reason is Prince Alizayd al-Qahtani. He has stolen my heart like no other character has and I want to share why I love him so much and how much his character means to me.

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From the moment we are introduced to Ali I knew I would love him, the very first thing we see him doing is going to pray Fajr at the masjid and it made my heart explode to see a main character unashamedly praying. His relationship with Allah and his devotion to practicing his faith is one of the things that made me completely fall in love with him. This was the Muslim rep that I was craving for, for so long. To see a Muslim character be unapologetically Muslim.

Every single time he is in a difficult situation his immediate response is to turn to Allah to seek help and guidance from Him. I cannot even begin to express how much I loved seeing this. At the beginning of Kingdom of Copper we see him being chased and almost killed and yet when he is faced with certain death in a desert all alone, he prays, he turns to Allah and asks for help and has faith that Allah will guide him.

And not only is he someone who is consistent in nourishing his soul through prayer he also emulates the characteristics we are taught by the Prophet (pbuh). He fights for social justice something that is a huge part of Islam and consistently and passionately fights for those who are not treated properly and the poor and needy. He gives his time to helping those in need without expecting praise and recognition. This is something that is so important to so many Muslims, especially something that the youth do consistently yet we never see this type of rep.

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Also the fact that Shannon made him a young Muslim man who was devout but not a radical or terrorist was especially endearing to me because they are consistently shown as the villains in media. And he was such a nuanced and complex character where we see that he struggles in his faith at times and can be seen as judgemental because of his beliefs yet he perseveres.

He is taken by Muntadhir to Khanzada’s palace and there surrounded by beautiful women yet knowing that he is not supposed to stare at them, he reminds himself to lower his gaze. I absolutely loved that Shannon included this scene especially as he didn’t tell the women that they should be ashamed of dressing in a certain way, but that he himself needs to control himself.

Another instance is when Nahri and him are in his room and he calls a guard in saying that a woman and man should not be alone in a room and this is another thing that young Muslims are having to deal with regularly so it was so great to see these instances in the book. We also see how people are condescending and judgemental towards him and make fun of the fact that he doesn’t drink or want to sleep with anyone before marriage and my heart felt for him in these scenes.

People may see that as acting judgemental when he refuses but it is a part of our religion and lots of young Muslims try to avoid and they are also looked down on. Which also made him double down on his rigidity when it came to these things but he learnt to grow and see that not everything is black and white. It really made him so relatable and reminded me of navigating through these things when I was a teen.

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One of the reasons that Daevas don’t like Ali is because they think that he will cause problems for them because of his continuous fight for justice for the Shafits but we see several instances where this isn’t the case. From the young boy who shoots an arrow at him and he doesn’t punish him for it, which he could have easily done. To the end of The Kingdom of Copper when he goes against his father to protect the Shafits but also ensures that every other tribe including the Daevas are protected. I loved seeing that distinction in the books, that despite him not liking most Daevas he still would protect them and wouldn’t allow innocent Daevas to be hurt. My heart could not take it, we can see the type of leader he could become, and it could be a great one.

I absolutely love how flustered he gets when girls are obviously flirting with him or is often completely oblivious about it. I love how he loves his siblings even though they don’t always see eye to eye. It was so lovely to see a complex sibling dynamic, siblings who obviously love each other but because of their positions they are often pitted against each other because it benefits others. I loved seeing how much he loved his brother and how Muntadhir was always protecting him because he knew he was oblivious when it came to politics.

His friendship with Lubayd and Aqisa was so wonderful to see especially after everything that happened in the first book. He has never been able to make real friends and he finally made some true friends who looked out for him. I cried happy tears for him to finally see him happy and enjoying life yet he still does everything he can for the community he lives in. His values and beliefs haven’t changed and this was something we see consistently throughout both books. He still does everything he can to improve the lives of those who need help. He helps with the irrigation and improving the conditions of the people of Bir Nibat.

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Lastly, I loved seeing how he was such a nerd and absolutely proud of it and completely owns it. I loved how excitedly he would talk non stop about the things he was passionate about and he would have to be told to stop talking. I loved that he was reader and essentially had a library in his room because what booknerd can’t relate to that?! It made my heart burst with joy to see a practicing Muslim who was also a booknerd.

One of my favourite scenes in The City of Brass is when Nahri and Ali are in the library and he’s teaching her to read and they are both basically being geeks together. And we learn that he would love to travel and see the world and wants to just soak up as much knowledge as he can. His love and passion comes through in this scene so beautifully. Another thing that I loved seeing that we see in this scene and throughout the books is that despite being a prince he doesn’t expect servants to do every small thing for him, he searches for the scrolls himself instead of just telling the librarians to go get it for him and it was refreshing to see that he isn’t a privileged spoiled brat.

I related so much to him in so many ways and I will forever be thankful to Shannon for writing this book and creating Alizayd. I could go on forever about Alizayd and all the small instances we see what a wonderful character he is but I think my essay is long enough and if you read it all, thank you!

PS. I have a whole section on my blog dedicated to the Daevabad trilogy so if you’re a fan do check it out!

30 thoughts on “Why Alizayd Al-Qahtani from The City of Brass Means So Much To Me”

  1. If I could like this post a thousand times, I would. This is beautiful! I love everything you shared, and I’m SO glad there is a character whose values and beliefs you can relate to (especially in such a wonderful series). Representation truly does matter.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never wanted to read a book more! I can’t believe I’ve had City of Brass just sitting on my shelves all this time!

    Like

  3. Aaaah, I just love Ali so much. It’s so refreshing to have a truly kind (male!) character be the hero of a story without playing second fiddle to anyone else. He’s just as much a protagonist as Nahri is. I just want him to be happy in the end.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. That is something that I also really admire about Alizayd. I’ll admit that he did intimidate me because of how devout he is and I think it’s because when I was younger I wanted to be devout in the ways that he was, however complications with learning about Islam as a girl made that a difficult thing for me. Even when Ali is faced with things that make him question what he was taught or how he was raised, his faith is still so beautifully intact and strong. I’ve found my way back to my faith as an adult and I’m immensely grateful for that, although I can’t help but wonder if I was able to read about a character who was so beautifully and unapologetically Muslim without being a radical or terrorist, as you mentioned, when I was younger if I would have the same willpower and strength he did. I loved reading this and love seeing how much this character and this series means to you. It’s very inspiring.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I totally understand. I had similar issues growing up. Often cultural practices were taught as islam but were oppressive to women and i hated it. But in my late teens I started studying islam myself and fell in love and finally felt empowered and it changed so much for me so I completely fell in love with Ali

      Liked by 1 person

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