Ayad Akhtar: Disgraced (extracts from the drama, 2013)
Amir, a New York corporate lawyer of South Asian origin, and his Caucasian wife Emily, a painter
whose work focuses on the spiritual roots of the Muslim, are being visited by Amir’s nephew Hussein.
Hussein has just changed his name to Abe Jensen as having an American sounding name makes his
life easier. He asks Amir for his legal support, which he has already denied before. Amir
Why are we still talking about this? […] Your guy should have been more careful.
Fareed didn’t do anything. Every church in the country collects money. It’s how they keep
their doors open. We’re entitled, too. He’s running a mosque –
He’s got the right. Just because they’re collecting money doesn’t mean it’s for Hamas
What does any of this have to do with me?
It doesn’t matter to you that an innocent man is in prison?
I don’t know Patriot Act
law. The guy’s already got a legal team. Those guys Ken and Alex are
They’re not Muslim.
There we go.
What I thought. I’m not gonna be part of a legal team just because your Imam is a bigot.
He’s not a bigot. He’d just be more comfortable if there was a Muslim on the case, too …
More comfortable if he wasn’t being represented by a couple of Jews?
No. He liked you. He said you were a good man.
Well, he might not feel the same if he knew how I really felt about his religion.
That’s just a phase.
That’s what Mom says Grandma used to say about you. That you were working something out. That
you were such a good Muslim when you were a kid. And that you had to go the other way
Amir and Emily are having a dinner party with another couple – Isaac, a Jewish art curator who is
about to arrange an exhibition also displaying Emily’s art, and Jory, an African American working in
Amir’s firm. Triggered by a discussion about one of Emily’s Islamic paintings, the conversation turns
to different aspects of religion – and food – again and again.
Mmm. This is delicious, Em[ily]. Really.
I picked up the recipe when I was on a Fulbright
I love Spain. I ran with the bulls in Pamplona.
You did not run with the bulls.
I watched people run with the bulls.
We went to Barcelona for our honeymoon. Gaudi
. The paella. The wine. Spanish wines are so
See, this is the problem I’m having … You’re saying Muslims are so different. You’re
different. You have the same idea of the good life
as I do. I wouldn’t have even known you were a
Muslim if it wasn’t
for the article in the Times
I’m not Muslim. I’m an apostate. Which means I’ve renounced my faith.
I know what the word apostate means.
Do you also know that – according to the Quran – it makes me punishable by death?
That’s not true, Amir.
Yes, it is.
Have you even read that part? Have you? It condemns renouncing the faith, but it doesn’t
specify punishment. The tradition has interpreted it as punishable by death.
He’s repeated it enough, I checked. I have a vested interest, after all.
The women laugh.
Fine. So let’s talk about something that is in the text. Wife-beating.
Great. Could you pass the bread?
So the angel Gabriel comes to Muhammad …
(mocking) Yeah. That’s how Muslims believe the Quran came to humanity. The angel Gabriel
supposedly dictated it to Muhammad word for word. […] ‘Men are in charge of women … ’
‘If they don’t obey … Talk to them. If that doesn’t work … Don’t sleep with them. And if that
doesn’t work … ’
(Turning to Emily.)
I’m not doing this.
I don’t remember that being in the Quran.
Oh, it’s there alright.
The usual translation is debatable.
Only for people who are trying to make Islam look all warm and fuzzy.
The root verb can mean beat. But it can also mean leave. So it could be saying, if your wife
doesn’t listen, leave her. Not beat her.
Sounds like a pretty big difference.
That’s not how it’s been interpreted for hundreds of years.
[…] The Quran is about tribal life in a seventh-century desert, Isaac. The point isn’t just academic.
There’s a result to believing that a book written about life in a specific society fifteen hundred years
ago is the word of God: You start wanting to recreate that society. After all, it’s the only one in which
the Quran makes any literal sense. That’s why you have people like the Taliban. They’re trying to
recreate the world in the image of the one that’s in the Quran. […] And this is the real problem: It goes
deeper than the Taliban. To be
Muslim – truly
– means not only that you believe
all this. It means you
for it, too. […] And so, even if you’re one of those lapsed Muslims sipping your after-dinner
scotch alongside your beautiful white American wife – and watching the news and seeing folks in the
Middle East dying for values you were taught were purer – and stricter – and truer … you can’t help
but feel just a little bit of pride. Isaac
Did you feel pride on September 11[th]
If I’m honest, yes.
You don’t really mean that, Amir.
I was horrified by it, okay? Absolutely horrified.
Pride about what? About the Towers coming down? About people getting killed?
That we were finally winning.
Yeah … I guess I forgot … which we I was.
You’re an American …
It’s tribal, Jor. It is in the bones. You have no idea how I was brought up. You have to work real
hard to root that shit out.
Well, you need to keep working.
Ayad Akhtar: Disgraced, London 2013, S. 10 – 55.
 Imam: the prayer leader of a Muslim mosque
 Hamas: Palestinian Islamic fundamentalist organization with focus on establishing an Islamic state in the area that is now
 Patriot Act: an act of government signed into law after the 9/11 terrorist attacks to obstruct terrorism directed at the USA
 curator: somebody who is in charge of the exhibits in a museum
 Fulbright: American program that offers scholarships for and international exchanges between professionals
 Gaudi: Spanish architect
 Amir actually followed his nephew’s request and went to see the Imam. The Times wrongfully claimed Amir was the
Imam’s legal support in an article about the trial.