Review - Varsha Singh
A Jane is not born, but rather becomes/is made, a Jane; a Jihadi Jane
How do you describe a story which makes you peel off your skin while reading ? It has been quite difficult to write about Tabish Khair's latest novel Jihadi Jane, which seems more to be a biography of a Jihadi, rather than a work of fiction. It is Khair's intense research work done beforehand which keeps one pensive while turning on each and every page of the book.
Khair's astounding tale of Jamilla and Ameena begins like a mystery which later on, seem to be advancing like the story of two common girls, one of whom is seen caught in the nuances of tradition while the other discards any kind of restriction on herself, celebrating her liberated self. But moving further, the tale spins and takes another pace; a deadly pace infact. The story rips open the tightly knit system of brainwashing young talents who may become the strengths of any great civilisation/society, but who rather end up becoming nothing more than the terror weapons.
This substantial novel of Khair grips within the dismay conflicted upon young minds in name of religion. It would be fitting to state that this was a much needed tale of time when most are living the life of scepticism and insularity.
High-school best friends Ameena and Jamilla couldn’t be more different: while one smokes cigarettes in their school playground, the other is a member of her mosque’s discussion group in suburban Yorkshire. When heartbreak and doubt leave Ameena bereft and alone, she turns to Jamilla’s beloved Allah for solace and purpose.
It is then that both girls find themselves entranced by a powerful Internet preacher—Hejjiye, a woman running an orphanage home in support of the men fighting in the name of jihad. Leaving their families and country behind, they run to join the Islamic State in Syria to serve a cause they unquestioningly believe in.
However, things begin to change for the worse once Ameena marries Hassan, a jihadi leader, and suddenly Jamilla begins to see the world that she left everything for differently. Getting out is almost impossible, but there is one way. Will the girls choose a path which might change their lives beyond recognition?
Heart-wrenching, masterful and stunningly powerful, Jihadi Jane paints a vivid picture of militant-brides operating around the world and the terrifying cost of religious fanaticism.