The novel Ayat-ayat Cinta tells us about love story between a man and a woman who has different cultural background. The man is an Indonesian student named Fahri who has been studying in Al-Azhar University of Egypt, and the woman is a German student named Aisha who has also been studying in Egypt. The love story begins when they accidentally meet on a tram when Aisha is being looked down by the Egyptian for defending an American Grandma. Then Fahri helps Aisha by explaining the reason why we have to respect each other, even to innocent American no matter how you hate America, to the Egyptian.
Fahri has been living in Egypt for seven years. Fahri lives together with his four friends who come from Indonesia, too. They are Saiful, Rudi, Hamdi and Misbah. They live on the third floor of a moderate flat which has six floors. They have a good neighbour on the fourth floor, a Coptic Christian family, which is considered of Mr. Boutros, Madame Nahed, Maria and Yousef. Although they have a different faith, but they have a good relationship, especially between Fahri and Maria. She is a beautiful Egyptian with a good character. Fahri sees Maria as an unusual girl because she can memorize two Sura of Holly Qur’an by heart, Al-Maidah and Maryam, although she is not a Moslem.
On the other hand, Fahri has one bad neighbour, a black ‘barbarian’ family. The Cold Face Bahadur is the head of this family. He has the worst attitude among the neighbourhood. He often tortures his youngest daughter Noura. He speaks roughly to everybody. His wife is Madame Syaima, and his another daughters are Mona and Suzana. They have a black skin as well as their parents, but Noura has a different skin, a white skin. This difference has made Noura as an enemy of the family. This make her suffer more and more. Every time Bahadur is angry, she becomes the victim of his anger, and her sisters often take this moment to take part to look her down, too. Until she has a tragic night when she is dragged by Bahadur to the street with having her back full of wounds of lash. This often happen, but this night is the worst. No one have a courage to help her. Finally, Fahri can’t stand anymore. He asks Maria to help her. Maria refuse at the beginning, because she doesn’t want her family to get involved with Bahadur’s family; however, she finally help Noura after Fahri ask her help for her love to Al-Masih. Then Noura is overnight with Maria in Boutros’ flat. This incident will make Fahri come into suffers, and almost lose his life, but he can make it by a lot of favour from Allah SWT through his wife Aisha, Maria and his friends.
As far as I’m concerned, this is a breakthrough Islamic novel and I love it very much. Why I call this a breakthrough novel? Because this novel can combine Islamic values with the story without reducing the quality of the novel. Many people think that Islamic novel is not as good as the other novel before the appearance of Ayat-ayat Cinta. It gives us a great love story including morality lessons and Islamic values. The great thing is we won’t feel that we are being taught about Islamic values, because the writer gives it through easy examples in daily life along the story. Since the appearance of Ayat-ayat Cinta, many Islamic novels from the other writers appear, so we have to call this is the pioneer of new generation of Islamic literature. Two thumbs up for this novel.
In the reality many of us still runaway from problems, do bad things in friendship, don’t know how to behave, and how to be grateful, so I think it would be better for us to read this novel, because beside its great love story, this novel tells us how to behave in the daily life, how to carry out friendship, how to thank for others favour, and how to face so many life problems. I hope many novels that give a lot of morality lessons and not tell a cliché story will appear, so that our knowledge in living this life will increase more and more.