Sunday, January 2, 2011
Radical Muslim brother constructed play of Martian Utopian fiction to make political point about imprisonment in Egypt
According to "Fictional Islam: A Literary Review and Comparative Essay on Islam in Science Fiction and Fantasy," written by Texas A&M librarian Rebecca Hankins and originally published in the journal Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction (Vol. 105, Spring 2009):
Christian Szyska's "On Utopian Writing in Nasserist Prison and Laicist Turkey"  tackles the use of utopian fiction, "fiction that goes beyond reality in order to depict an imaginary community in its ideal form as an opportunity to reflect upon the present situation." The article presents the activity of writing as a coping mechanism for Muslims incarcerated in an Egyptian prison and as a plot device for a Turkish writer's quest for an Islamic utopia. The essay opens with a discussion of writings by Egyptian political prisoners and their use of the narrative to build an Islamic utopian world that allows them to escape the persecution and alienation they experience within their present societies. These stories are transmitted as plays and dramas that take their inspiration from the writings of one of Islam's more controversial figures, Egyptian political prisoner, the late Sayyid Qutb, a leader within the Muslim Brotherhood, a group that has consistently fought against the secularization of Egypt. The play Szyska critiques is titled Al-bu'd al khamis (1987), written by Ahmad Ra'if, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and a political prisoner. The story revolves around three characters, two men and a woman, who become disillusioned with planet Earth and decide to emigrate to planet Mars. On Mars they find a utopian system run by the tolerant, intelligent, and non-violent Martians who are undergirded with a moral and religious framework similar to Islam. Szyska notes, "The Martian system mirrors the concept of Islamic government as proposed by Sayyid Qutb and expressed in the concepts of tawhid [oneness of God] and hakimiyya [governance]."
Thanks to World SF for the link.