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Muslim Journeys: Literary Reflections

Over the centuries, Islam has provided a source of inspiration through which Muslims experience, understand, and guide their everyday lives. The readings for this theme can be seen as literary reflections on Muslim piety and communal concepts such as ethics, governance, knowledge, and identity. Each one reveals the transformation of faith and identity, as Muslims living at different times and in different places have interpreted Islamic traditions to meet their distinctive cultural realities and spiritual needs.

 

Minaret

Leila Aboulela's American debut is a provocative, timely, and engaging novel about a young Muslim woman -- once privileged and secular in her native land and now impoverished in London -- gradually embracing her orthodox faith.

 
The Arabian Nights

These stories (and stories within stories, and stories within stories within stories), told by the Princess Shahrazad under the threat of death if she ceases to amuse, first reached the West around 1700. They fired in the European imagination an appetite for the mysterious and exotic which has never left it. Collected over centuries from India, Persia, and Arabia, and ranging from vivacious erotica, animal fables, and adventure fantasies to pointed Sufi tales, the stories of The Arabian Nights provided the daily entertainment of the medieval Islamic world at the height of its glory.

 

The Conference of the Birds
PK6451.F4 M2813 1984

Composed in the twelfth century in northeastern Iran, Farid Attar's great mystical poem is among the most significant of all works of Persian literature. A marvelous, allegorical rendering of the Islamic doctrine of Sufism, it describes the pilgrimage of the world's birds in search of their ideal king, the Simorgh bird, and the arduous journey they take to reach him.

 

Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood
CT2678.M47 A3 1995x

' I was born in a harem in 1940 in Fez, Morocco...' So begins Fatima Mernissi in this exotic and rich narrative of a childhood behind the iron gates of a domestic harem. Mernissi weaves her own memories with the dreams and memories of the women who surrounded her in the courtyard of her youth - women who, deprived of access to the world outside, recreated it from sheer imagination.

 

Snow

Turkish Nobel Prize winner Pamuk relates the story of an exiled Turkish poet returning to the small Turkish town of Kars to investigate a rash of suicides by young girls and to reconnect with the beautiful Ipek of his youth.