Ausma Zehanat Khan is the author of The Khorasan Archives, a fantasy series geographically set along parts of the Silk Road, Central Asia, and the Middle East. CMENAS partnered with the Journal of Narrative Theory at Eastern Michigan University (EMU), to sponsor a lecture by Khan on Thursday, October 15th, 2020, at 6:30 p.m. “Feminism, Faith, and Patriarchy: The Khorasan Archives” was delivered over Zoom to an audience of 49 members of EMU’s community and the general public.
Khan holds a doctorate in international human rights law that focused on the 1992-1995 war in Bosnia, and her paramount loves are writing and pursuing justice. Interviewed in “The Poetics of Suspense,” published in the AramcoWorld issue of May/June 2016, she explained: “I’ve really been doing the same thing all my life through different paths, and that is telling the stories that matter and representing voices that are often silenced or marginalized. It is important to me to do work that I think is humanizing.”
To her audience in October, Khan argued that so much of what has been imposed by Taliban law upon all women, not just Pashtuns (an ethnic group from which her family -- and the Taliban -- derive), has been justified by a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam and by the Pashtun tribal code. The impetus then for writing the series, she said, was the desire to tackle these questions: What was the place of women within the Islamic tradition? Why did they appear so infrequently in the annals of Islamic history? Why had their names and contributions been lost to time? And how did their erasure from their own history affect their current status in Muslim societies and communities?
The Khorasan Archives, which includes “The Bloodprint,” “The Black Khan,” “The Blue Eye,” and “The Bladebone,” addresses the erasure, highlighting the contributions to Islamic civilization of women, who, in the epic-scale adventures, use the Islamic tradition to liberate themselves from oppression and save their worlds from tyranny. Khan’s series also explores “the impact on the boys and young men who have no other path forward than war—no other guarantors of security than a group like the Taliban,” and portrays them instead as allies in the fight against a patriarchy that oppresses all the inhabitants of Khorasan.
Khan is also the former editor-in-chief of Muslim Girl Magazine and the author of several other books.