Book review: Persepolis [PICS]

Eid Mubarak to my Muslim friends and may your day be filled with love and happiness!

On this joyous occasion, I would like to share a recent find which was insightful and wonderfully hilarious though it left me feeling heavy-hearted after.

Persepolis selfie“Persepolis” is an autobiographical graphic novel series spanning over two books by Iranian-born French cartoonist and illustrator Marjane Satrapi. It is a satirical account of her childhood and young adult years during the Islamic Revolution in Iran. In case if you are wondering, this is exactly the same period depicted in Oscar-winning film “Argo” directed by Ben Affleck.

The beauty of this graphic novel is its multi-dimensionality where it introduces readers to Persian culture and Iranian history while triggering discussions for a host of topics including women’s rights, political oppression and the ethics of war. The turmoil roiling inside the illustrator as she was growing up was matched equally with the external turbulence of the socio-economic environment of the Islamic Revolution.

Persepolis 1 martyrs Continue reading

Book review: Malay Sketches and Eid Mubarak!

A late Eid Mubarak everyone! For all Muslim friends and readers out there, hope your weekend was filled with love and forgiveness, not forgetting good food and company!“Malay Sketches” by Singaporean author Alfian Sa’at will be my recommended read for this festive season, tinged with a strong dose of Southeast Asian flavor.

This book is about the Malays, an ethnic group residing around Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and southern Thailand, where the majority are Muslims.

I have always took the identity of Malays for granted until when my foreign friends asked me and it become quite awkward because having grown up with Malay friends and relatives, I did not consciously think about who they were.

This issue was also brought up in “Malay Sketches” through a fictional character Hidayah, a Singaporean Malay student studying in New York. Continue reading

Eid Mubarak & book review about Islam

Eid Mubarak or Selamat Hari Raya to all Muslim friends and wish you have a blessed year ahead! The Eid ul-Fitr is a traditional Muslim festival to mark the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and has always been a time for house visiting and feasting for myself.

This book review on Edward Said’s book ‘Covering Islam’ will therefore be in lieu with this annual holy festival. If you have been largely reliant on news coming in from Western media such as the New York Times, CNN or the Economist, just like myself, then this book is going to change your view about the Islamic world.

You have been warned that this is not the easiest book to digest or understand about Islam but is nonetheless very well argued and well substantiated that makes his arguments powerful and are worth poring over.

Said is a highly controversial writer, an American intellectual and a pro-Palestinian activist who wrote widely about issues relating to his central concept of what he called orientalism. Orientalism, in an overtly simplified version here, is an ideological framework constructed by the West to guide its entire thought and scholarship towards the East.

In ‘Covering Islam,’ he utilizes the same framework to particularly explain how Western media covers and misconstrues Islam-related issues, particularly towards the Arab world. Said definitely showed no mercy when lashing out at stereotypes and inaccurate reports by the Western media and a strong sense of injustice for the Arabs.

“…the term ‘Islam’ as it is used [by the Western media] today seems to mean one simple thing but in fact is part fiction, part ideological label, part minimal designation of a religion called Islam. In no really significant way is there a direct correspondence between the ‘Islam’ in common Western usage and the enormously varied life that goes on within the world of Islam. ” – Introduction chapter, Covering Islam

Continue reading