Reviewed by Dr. Karen Hutchins Pirnot for Readers' Favorite
"Sikander" by M. Salahuddin Khan is an epic undertaking which hits its mark with an intriguing journey into culture, religion, politics and humanity coming of age. Sikander is a young Pakistani student who becomes disgruntled with family interactions and who leaves home to join the Afghanistan mujahideen movement as they struggle to release themselves from the influence of Russia. The initial time frame is the mid 1980's and the Russians have control of the country due to the advanced technological characteristics of their helicopters. The USA then agrees to provide technological assistance in the form of Stinger missiles, an event which eventually drives the Russians out of Afghanistan.
Throughout the battles, there is rich information regarding religious and cultural beliefs and everyday actions which characterize a typical Muslim family. The story unfolds between Pakistan and Afghanistan and events are interpreted through the cultural, cognitive and emotional perspective of young Sikander as he struggles to make sense of a chaotic world. The young man is forced to choose loyalties and to make decisions which weather him and forever change and direct his life.
This is not a story of culture or politics or religion; rather it is a story about humanity. Khan brilliantly develops the intellectual and emotional subtleties of his characters so that the reader is forced to put aside preconceived notions about foreign cultures and religion and to view those aspects through the eyes of a common believer who must struggle to grow and develop as a human being. It is noble in its intent and it carries through brilliantly and compassionately with that intent.