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Desperately Seeking Paradise: Journeys of a Sceptical Muslim Kindle Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the paperback edition.
“A curious, often amusing travelogue.” -- Publishers Weekly --This text refers to the paperback edition.
- ASIN : B0078XFNOA
- Publisher : Granta Books (March 22, 2012)
- Publication date : March 22, 2012
- Language : English
- File size : 618 KB
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 372 pages
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,060,093 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Thank you Mr. Sardar for this wonderful gift.
I was prompted to buy this wonderfully stimulating (and humorous book) by what one reviewer said of it on the Amazon website: '[it offers a glimpse of the intellectually exhilarating world of Islam'. As a person who delights in being intellectually exhilarated, I was hooked by this and the other glimpses the website offered.
To limit myself to one quote from Sardar's book is difficult, but here's one that moved me particularly:
" 'Inshallah', meaning 'God willing', is the most ineffable phrase. It betokens the infinite possibilities beyond human understanding."
If you don't find that sentence 'intellectually exhilarating', then perhaps this book isn't for you. But if you do, be prepared for numerous delights.
Top reviews from other countries
A witty, engaging and entertaining wordsmith, Sardar is exhilarating to read. His wry and critical sense of humour permeates the text leading to moments of real hilarity. Yet this isn't simply a tale of travel and discovery - it's an erudite survey of the Muslim world, a close look at various periods of Muslim history (sometimes vis-a-vis the West), and an attempt to reconcile the traditional values of Islam with aspects of modernity. Sardar's method of choice is to place a particular piece of theory, or some nuance of historical significance into the mouth of his interlocutor - usually a professor, a friend or an educated acquaintance of some sort. His chance meetings thus turn out to be educative lessons, and as the story unfolds the mysteries of mysticism, the history of the Iranian revolution or the furore of the "Rushdie affair" - to name some of the topics covered - are stitched seamlessly into the racy narrative. Throw in some critical analysis from Sardar too, and the reader is left with considerable food for thought - as well as an entertaining and funny travel story.
So from the pietist yet simplistic Tabligh Jama'at, to the intimacies of China's rural Hui Muslim community; from meeting Pakistan's president Zia-ul-Haque, to Sardar's close relationship with Malaysia's deputy Anwar Ibrahim; or from meeting a young and passionate Osama bin Laden to spending an evening with semi-naked tribal elders in an equatorial rainforest; it's a veritable tour de force which leaves the reader gasping for breath. Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia (where the author spends 5 years), Syria and Iraq are some of the other lands visited in this gargantuan quest to translate celestial ideals into terrestrial realities.
Criticisms? Well, I can relate to what some of the other reviewers have said about Sardar's attitude; he does come across as pompous or chauvinistic at times, perhaps lacking the essential quality of humility which should be a key ingredient of his search. Also his constant references to himself as a "Muslim intellectual" betray a lurking insecurity perhaps and border on the tedious; he seems to need to drive the point home again and again to ensure the reader is left in no doubt. He makes a lot of references to the depression the state of the Ummat (global Muslim community) inspires in him, yet - self-proclaimed intellectual status aside - some of the strategies he adopts to assuage this condition seem un-intellectual to say the least. Thinking thoughts in a vacuum, along with his small band of like-minded friends - the Ijmalis - surely cannot lead to any lasting and constructive change in the world-wide Muslim condition. Especially when some of these thoughts betray the very basis upon which that community defines itself (although Sardar's "intellectual status" gives him license, of course, to cut off the branch on which he's sitting).
All-in-all an enjoyable read though, and a rare and competent expression of some of the issues facing British (or Western) Muslims as they grapple to find their place in the modern intellectual landscape. Much more nuanced, infinitely better-written and strikingly more erudite than, for example, Ed Husain's The Islamist. Oh - and another thing: Sardar has an unhealthy obsession with facial hair. Almost everybody he meets is described in terms of his beard - or lack of it: wisps of wiry whiskers, moustaches, goatees, bursts of uncontrolled hirsuteness or straggling stubble - in fact all manner of bushy benevolence are anatomised in excruciating detail. Maybe Sardar's follicular fixation feeds upon the carefully projected self-image mentioned above: he revels in the fact he is clean-shaven, wearing this proudly as a badge of his "intellectual status". Unlike the dull-witted, bearded Mullahs of course.
Dr. Mehmet Ali Dikerdem