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Stranger To History: A Son's Journey Through Islamic Lands (2012)

by Aatish Taseer(Favorite Author)
3.61 of 5 Votes: 2
155597628X (ISBN13: 9781555976286)
Graywolf Press
review 1: Though nominally a Muslim because his father was one, author seeks to establish in his mind just what Islam is all about. He journeys from Turkey, through Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran to Pakistan is effort to satisfy his curiosity. He finds that Islam is for the most part a rigid culture, not particularly open and searching. It’s not a religion, but politics, and his confusion about that got him into trouble in Iran. The most absorbing pages of the book are those that relate his three-hours of intense interrogation by Iranian authorities. Even so, he concludes that the current theocracy there won’t last; most Iranians seem to take pleasure in dissent. Another author goal was to contact and perhaps even bond with his estranged father in Pakistan. His father, an open-minded... more, non-practicing Muslim, was for a time a state governor. Too tolerant, though, for the Islamic establishment. Soon after the reunion, the father was assassinated. Bonding never took place.
review 2: Raised in India by his Sikh mother, Aatish Taseer’s Pakistani father existed only as a fading photograph in a silver frame. Even after contact was finally made, their relationship remained distant.This distance prompted the author to set out on an eight month journey through Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan in an effort to understand his father’s worldview and to bridge the gulf that divided them. His travels forced him to grapple with a series of questions: Why did his irreligious father describe himself as a “cultural Muslim”? Why did being Muslim bind you to other Muslims before the citizens of your own country? And why did Muslims regard modernity as a threat?The author’s personal memoir of father-son alienation is compelling in its universality, but the book is more important for the cultural alienation he discovers.Each new country and each new conversation reveals a Muslim world which transcends the borders of nation states—and even the borders of religion—to form a culture that unites Islamic peoples regardless of their professed belief or lack of belief in the tenets of the faith. Taseer discovers that theirs is a worldview torn between a rapidly modernizing “global culture” as embodied by the West, and a utopian dream of a society founded on an idealized vision of the Islamic past.Penetrating in its insight, sensitively observed and honestly reported, Stranger to History sheds new light on how a troubled region and culture is choosing to face globalization and change. less
Reviews (see all)
a good read - learned alot about the middle east from different perspective
Part of giveaway - currently reading - review to follow.
nice read on Islam as a religion and cultural force
Beautiful writing, but content is silly at times.
A travelogue with an important dimension.
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