Her Heart Lies at the Feet of the Mother: Transformations of the Romance Plot in Leila Aboulela’s Minaret

Publication year
African Journal of Gender and Religion

The abstract makes it clear that Minaret is not a romance. However, the author discusses why it is not a romance, drawing on romance scholarship, and begins with a discussion of why Aboulela's earlier The Translator is a romance, so I felt the article should be included in the database:

Sudanese-British writer, Leila Aboulela’s novel, Minaret (2005) transforms the plot structure of Western literary and popular romance forms and develops further the plotlines of African-American Muslim romance novels. It does so by foregrounding the dissenting mother as obstruction to the union of the hero and heroine, against the backdrop of the unique status of the mother in Islam. Thus, the ending of the novel is neither happy nor tragic. Instead, the lovers are separated, and closure requires reconciliation on the part of the couple with the concerns of the mother. In addition, because of the significant difference in age, the heroine is in some ways like a mother to the hero. Final contentment of the heroine is undermined by her questionable actions at the end, resulting in psychic and spiritual contraction. The novel is therefore open-ed up to ambiguity and uncertainty in the closure, notwithstanding the faith of the heroine. The specific form which closure takes, is determined by the dissenting mother as obstruction in Islamic romance.