Blog Tours/Street Teams, Booksish Discussions, Muslim Shelf Space, The Daevabad Trilogy

Muslim Representation in the Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty

Today is the last day of the World of Daevabad blog tour! I hope you enjoyed reading all the posts! Today I am going to be discussing the Muslim rep in the books.

One of the many reasons that I completely fell in love with the Daevabad trilogy is because of the wonderful Muslim representation in these books. Shannon created such wonderfully diverse and nuanced Muslim characters and especially having an unapologetically Muslim character as one of her main characters.

While there are many Muslims in Daevabad, we don’t meet many practicing Muslims there. Especially in the palace and those amongst the rich and powerful where people do what benefits them and their tribe over what is actually right and just.

Alizayd is one who always fights for what is just and right and that means breaking the status quo which makes him disliked amongst the people in power. They make him out to be a fanatic and someone who will kill indiscriminately to get what he believes to be right but time and time again we are shown that isn’t the case. They call him slurs from sandfly to crocodile. It actually reminded me of how Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was treated when he refused to stop teaching Islam and it was an interesting parallel to see in a fantasy book and honestly just made me love Ali even more.

While, 18 year old Ali in City of Brass, is quite rigid in his beliefs and sees everything in black and white we still see instances when he still won’t cross that line. From not punishing the daeva boy for shooting an arrow at him. He has incredible growth throughout the trilogy too and realises that there are better ways to create change and that it will take time. It was honestly incredible to see how he never stopped practicing his faith but he grew wiser as he got older and learnt to see how to use what his faith teaches in a way that won’t alienate anyone.

At the end of The Kingdom of his decision to stop the killing of innocent shafit made me so proud of him but I was especially proud when he said that the innocent daevas are also to be kept safe and that he would execute the people who hurt them himself. Finally someone in Daevabad who cared about everyone in Daevabad and not just those who are their own or that they will benefit from if they cared for those people. Throughout Kingdom of Copper we see time and time again that he cares for all of the people in Daevabad. Social justice is a huge part of Islam and to see a main character embody that was incredible to see.

One of my favourite things throughout the books was how Islam was such an intricate part of the books and it was just there as if it’s completely normal. From the first page with the fajr adhaan and Nahri wearing a black abaya to Ali’s first chapter where he goes to the masjid to pray in congregation. In fact we see Ali turn to his faith time and time again. When Ali is distressed or worried he turns to Allah, when there is a moment of joy, he thanks Allah. It was incredible and so heartwarming to see that in the books.

We also see small things like, Ali and Zaynab not drinking alcohol because it’s forbidden, we see that Ali does not want to have a relationship with anyone outside of marriage and that he even says to Nahri that they can’t be alone because the devil is the third person (who will tempt them to do something that isn’t allowed in Islam). This last one especially was amazing to see, this is a teaching of our Prophet (pbuh) and yet it isn’t considered societal norm for most in the west especially so to see that plainly, unapologetically in a fantasy book, it blew my mind. Ali even gets made fun of by Muslims and non Muslims alike for these beliefs and yet he stays firm. For a teenage boy, a young man to fight this type of peer pressure it is incredibly hard and a lived experience of many Muslim youths and just seeing it in a book. Honestly I cannot begin to describe how much I loved seeing these little things. I wish we had gotten to see more of what it was like for Zaynab too as that would have been so interesting to see.

There are so many instances in the book where people say that Ali is a fanatic and I found it really interesting reading it because according to these people, a fanatic is someone who stands firm in their faith. Ali definitely is one who stands firm in his beliefs but the discussion on what makes a person a fanatic was really interesting and subtly woven into the story. He always questions what happens and learns and grows but his core belief of social justice stays firm. That does not make him a fanatic. Blindly following and being completely devoted to someone despite them doing something morally and ethically wrong is a more accurate definition of what a fanatic is. That isn’t Ali, yet he is always the one who is accused of it but as readers we can see that isn’t the case and I am so glad that Shannon included this discussion in the books.

We also see many instances of people manipulating Islamic beliefs for their own benefit from Ghassan in City of Brass “reminding” Ali that in Islam, parents have a high station and we should listen to them unless it goes against Islam. To the tanzeem who use Ali’s faith to manipulate him into supporting them and then gaslight him when he questions them. To people telling Ali that he is far too strict in his beliefs and that he should just calm down and that people would like him more this way. People would like him essentially if he compromised on his beliefs. He also has to battle through all of this and it was so relatable.

I can truly talk about the wonderful Muslim representation in these books, it gave me the rep that I had been craving and I will forever be thankful for Shannon for this rep.

The Empire of Gold is out in the US today and is already out in the UK and many other places so make sure you pick up a copy because it is phenomenal.

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