I have been very free lately and caught up with some reading. Firstly I was very very happy to find that Khaled Housseini had published his second book, A Thousand Splendid Suns. After The Kite Runner (now a motion picture), I was again totally touched (in the good way) by Housseini. His writing is just simple, painfully touching and hauntingly beautiful. It was that something that delicately fragile yet strong came to the world - the books really paint vivid pictures of struggle and pain that the Afghanistan people go through. And believe his books are tear inducing!
Before introducing the 3rd and 4th books, I should let you know that I have always been troubled by the silence of the Muslim community in the wake of 9/11. I have always wondered why have I not heard anyone, from the community, voice out how the situation can be fixed, not by means of war. And even before 9/11 I had always not understood the history behind the feud among Israel, Pakistan, Palestine and neighbouring Middle Eastern countries.
Irshad Manji and Ayaan Hirsi Ali are the two persons that provide some answers to my questions. The former has written The Trouble with Islam Today, which has earned her intense publicity, including death threats from some Muslims, due to her openly criticising of the religion. I haven't quite understood her book fully because of its diversity - mainly sociology, history, anthropology and religion arguments. It addresses how the dispute between Israel and Palestine came about, among other issues.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali wrote The Caged Virgin. She explains how Islam came about and how had it evolved from being inquisitive, passionate and caring and to everything downhill from there onwards. From the title itself, Ayaan relates the religion to the emancipation of Muslim women, immigrant policy and fanaticism of the religion.
Both incredible women, who aren't afraid of speaking the truth, represent the new Muslim women. These women, I hope, will become a new form of enlightenment to fellow women, to self-criticise, to change and to break out of the cage. They both urge for change from within the religion. The books remind me that we shouldn't be afraid to question, especially things that are forced onto us, even if that something has been around for 5 million years.