Mystical and Archetypal Journeys in Leila Aboulela’s Bird Summons




Attar, Bird Summons, Campbell, Islam, journey, Leila Aboulela


This article aims at exploring the significance of intertwining the mystical and the archetypal journey structures in Leila Aboulela’s novel, Bird Summons (2019). It highlights the author’s indebtedness to Islamic Sufi tradition and shows how she appropriates Farid ud-din Attar’s mystical pilgrimage of the seven valleys to a postmodern context where three Arab-British female characters attain spiritual transcendence. On the other hand, the article employs Joseph Campbell’s structure of the archetypal journey narratives to explicate the relationship between the narrative structure and the author’s chief thematic concerns. Campbell’s seventeen stages of the “Monomyth,” or the “hero’s journey,” illuminate Aboulela’s proficient projection of the characters’ spiritual quest in their physical movement from the city into the forest. England performs a cultural contact zone which entices the protagonists to overcome their identity crises caused by traumatic experiences, acute sense of displacement, and nostalgia. The success of their physical journey to Lady Evelyn Cobbold’s grave functions as an allegory for the redemptive impact of spirituality which ultimately empowers them to become more functional individuals and to integrate into English society. The study concludes that Aboulela’s deliberate fusion of Islamic journey structure with a Western one attests to the author’s belief in the universality of Islam and the possibility of religious tolerance and intercultural coexistence.

Author Biographies

Lina Saleh, Al- Balqa Applied University, Jordan

Assistant Professor

Department of English Language and Literature

Al- Balqa Applied University, Jordan


Sabrine Saleh, Middle East University, Jordan 

Academic Instructor

Middle East University, Jordan 

Yasser Al-Shboul, Al- Balqa Applied University, Jordan

Associate Professor

Department of English Language and Literature

Al- Balqa Applied University, Jordan


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Date of Publication


How to Cite

Saleh, L., Saleh, S., & Al-Shboul, Y. (2023). Mystical and Archetypal Journeys in Leila Aboulela’s Bird Summons. International Journal of Arabic-English Studies.



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