Have you ever looked in the mirror and wondered “Am I a good person? Like truly do I measure up.” This is a question that Salman Rushdie in his 1995 publication of “The Prophet’s Hair” satirically scrutinized. So many times as people we think that as my daughter likes to say ‘we’re all that and a bag of chips’, but we’re not even close. This short story is full of satirical points focusing on the people, situations, morality, and religious views to name a few.
One main focus of irony in the story is the character Hashim. In the beginning of the story he is a loving father who doesn’t really care if he follows the Islam religion, but considers himself to be “living honorably in the world” (Greenblatt, pg. 1146.) I have to be honest at first I did not read this story as a satire, and thought ok he’s just going with the flow, however once I understood the satire so many things came to light. Hashim is in my opinion the biggest hypocrite in the story. He is a money handler the charges “interest over 70 percent”, to teach people to be ‘responsible’ with money, but then turns around when the second defaulter comes to his door Hashim calls him ‘a thief of other men’s money’ (Greenblatt, pg. 1149). I have personally had the unfortunate pleasure thanks to a bad relationship of dealing with high interest loans, so I can say over 70% interest is highway robbery!! For Hashim to call the debtor a thief is ridiculous when he himself is the one robbing the poor man. Thomas Maldonado, adjunct professor at Minnesota State University puts it best by stating “Hashim embodies everything wrong with his society: he is greedy, adulterous, and arrogant, far from the honorable way of life he views himself as having.” (Academia.edu) Rushdie uses Hashim as a perfect example how so many people in society even today can be. We think that we’re upstanding citizens when everyone of us has a fault, maybe not to Hashim’s extent since there’s also abuse, and adultery mixed in his life as well, but as humans we’re not perfect. I think in the end of the story the robber’s wife being cured of her blindness may in fact really be that she can see how distorted her husband’s views on life were. The robber while not rich like Hashim and as many call it ‘lived on the other side of the grass’ was still just as hypocritical as he not only stole, but taught his children to as well.
This story should be such a wake up call to society that we really need to take that hard look in the mirror and ask ourselves am I a good person, and am I truly living the life I’m perceiving myself to live? One other aspect that I think is still very much still true 24 years after the stories publication is how once Hashim took possession of the relic his whole life changed, and he became violent, hypocritical, and suddenly a religious man. I look at that and think about the opioid crisis around us, and how quick one’s decision to take the drug can alter not only their life, but the lives around them. Just like Hashim the addiction can take over and cause irrational thoughts, and decisions that can lead to trouble in the end.
Greenblatt, S. and Robson, C. (n.d.). The Norton anthology of English literature.
"A Piece of Satire Found Within 'The Prophet's Hair? by Salman Rushdie." Academia.edu - Share Research, www.academia.edu/7848424/A_Piece_of_Satire_found_within_The_Prophet_s_Hair_by_Salman_Rushdie.