Science Fiction 50 Fatwas of the Virtuous Vampire Essay

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¶ … Fatwas of the Virtuous Vampire": A metaphor for Islamic terrorism.

One common question that is asked when Islamic terrorists commit unspeakable actions is 'why?' In other words, why do people who purport to be religious feel as if they have the right to commit murder? In "50 Fatwas of the Virtuous Vampire" written by Muslim author Pamela K. Taylor, the author uses vampirism as an extended metaphor for Islamic extremism and also to show the alienated nature of Muslims in the modern, international community. The central character Ibrahim is not evil, but he feels he is compelled to drink the blood of human beings to survive. He is treated as a pariah, simply because of who he is, much like other vampires in the non-Islamic vampire saga of Twilight. The elaborate rationalizations he makes for his actions appear at the beginning of the tale, from a made-up tract by a holy man, Sheikha Yasmin al-Binawi, author of Culinary Etiquette for the Islamic Undead: "Clearly, as the vampire requires blood for survival, it is completely permissible for him to consume his natural food, so long as he does not become gluttonous, gorging himself and going to extremes. God is indeed most Gracious, His Favor upon us Most Complete!" Ibrahim, beaten when he was made into a vampire by his master, is still enslaved by isolation.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Essay on Science Fiction 50 Fatwas of the Virtuous Vampire Assignment

This quote from a text purporting to interpret the Koran for the virtuous vampire gives Ibrahim theological license to attack others -- although only evil men and women. The words of the holy man show how religious words can be twisted to justify almost any action -- Ibrahim's actions during the story do not mean that the religion is bad, because Islam forbids the consumption of blood, according to its religious restrictions. But those who call themselves vampires can twist the Koran to suit their purposes, justifying the taking of blood. This shows how Taylor observed in an interview, her writings center around themes like "legalism, theocracy, and extremism," all of which are present in this short story (Ahmad 2010). Taylor also implies that when Muslims are alienated -- made into vampires, in essence, they are more apt to believe such religious can't.

Science fiction is often thought of as escapist fiction that provides the reader with a release from reality. However, it has also been used by many skillful authors to comment upon the current state of the world, as in the case of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, George Orwell's 1984, and H.G. Wells' the War of the Worlds. In Taylor's short story, the convoluted logic of terrorism is better understood by projecting it into an unreal scenario. Dealing with terrorism in a more straightforward way might provoke powerful negative emotions in the reader, but by using a more subtle strategy, Taylor is able to add more complexity to the psychology of the central protagonist. Ibrahim feels that what he is doing is necessary to survive, and covets the beauty of his young prospective victim Lina. He knows that even according to the holy law of vampire Muslims, he should select an evil man, like the man she does not want to marry, but his natural, masculine sexual instincts make him desire her more than he wants to suck the life from her unwanted suitor or the unattractive women and men around her. He desires her and projects his fantasy onto her out of loneliness -- an alienated person engages in desperate actions, the author implies.

By sparing her from her miserable life, Ibrahim tells himself that he is performing a virtuous action. Of course, the fact that Lina may see her life as very much worth living is no matter to Ibrahim. This mentality is also seen amongst Muslim perpetrators of terrorist actions. The terrorists may tell themselves, when waging jihad, that if innocent Muslims die, it is for the greater good of the faith, and these innocents will also be rewarded in paradise. The greater good and glory of Islam is more important than showing respect for individual members of the faith when waging war against the West.

Ibrahim seems to be a lonely man, because of his status as a vampire, and like the typical psychological profile of many terrorists, he is alienated from the rest of society. In fact, all Muslims, because they are viewed as innately 'terroristic' in American society are often viewed as aliens, even if they are citizens. This ostracization causes him to fantasize about the lives of his victims, and to create an elaborate, imaginary world that justifies his actions. This is metaphor for how a terrorist, cloistered amongst similar fanatics, creates an elaborate justification for his behaviors. Ibrahim even torturously justifies why taking the life of Lina's unwanted suitor is a blessing:

Ibrahim grimaced. Sidi Ahmed was sure to smell like a slab of mutton forgotten in the back of the icebox, and to taste like a head of cabbage left too long in the sun. And worse, killing him wouldn't really solve Lina's problems. She would be spared the ignominy of an unwarranted beating, of being forced into this man's bed, but her family would still be poorer than fellaheen. Worse, blame for his death might fall on Lina's father, or her brother, or herself even, given the conversation with Beans-and-Rice. And then they would all be thrown out on the street or end up in jail. And if not, the man's son would take over the household, or his wife, and there would be new depredations, or maybe more of the same old ones. He had to admit, no matter what he did, there was no way he could save Lina from the life God had chosen for her.

The reference to "smelling like a slab of mutton" plainly shows that Ibrahim has no desire to eat Sidi Ahmed for personal reasons, just like the reasons that terrorists act in the manner that they do is often self-serving. They may not have jobs, families, or homes, and thus their actions against all of these possessions of others is seen as ideologically and philosophical justified, even though they are really engaged in a personal vendetta against society. This disenfranchised status, in many Western countries, is often the result of prejudice against Muslims that paradoxically makes individuals less fully integrated into society and prone to violence.

Ibrahim wants to attack Lina, not really for her own good, but because she will taste better and he wants her sexually, and the only way a vampire can possess a moral woman sexually is by killing her: "He couldn't resist her. So helpless. So defenseless." He wishes to both destroy and protect Lina, all at once. Taylor suggests that the desire to protect and destroy is inherent to the rage of terrorism, and its twisted rationalizations, but the author also implies that terrorists are human beings in the sense that the desire to protect and destroy is woven into the fabric of human emotions. To hate and to love is a common poetic sentiment that has been expressed many, many times, throughout many eras and cultures.

Taylor's use of the science fiction format also allows Taylor, through the perspective of Ibrahim, to make comments on modern day political issues, like the polarization in the Middle East between Arabs and Israelis: "He should go back to Israel, to Palestine, where the pious so often veered into extremism. Muslim or Jewish, he didn't care; both sides were liable to self-righteous fury. If he caught them quickly enough after they turned, they still smelled sweet, and he had no doubt he was preventing murder -- a noble end in itself." Perhaps the most controversial aspect of Taylor's story is that Ibrahim the vampire is concerned about morality, albeit from a warped perspective. He does not believe that vampires will be immortal but that they, like all human beings, will be judged before God eventually. This explains his obsession with when it is 'right' to kill someone. When he yields to his desire and attacks Lina, he is immediately stabbed with remorse, and stops himself, mid-act:"It was a horrible transgression, one he couldn't take back, one he couldn't even begin to atone for," he thinks, reflecting on her innocence. According to the Koran, he knows that it is wrong to harm innocents, and he will be judged harshly as a result.

Yet once again, Taylor shows how the terrorist mindset can use religion to rationalize even apparently evil actions that are expressly forbidden by the Koran. "There is no sin so great that Allah will not forgive it," counsels the holy book for vampires, and Ibrahim begs forgiveness in his heart. Ibrahim cannot bring himself to kill Lina, so he instead converts her to one of the undead, almost like a terrorist converts a new adherent to the cause by infecting his or her mind with radical sentiment. Ibrahim knows that he is dooming Lina to a life of misery but… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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