Review—Born with Wings by Daisy Khan

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While’s Daisy Khan’s life is fascinating and her work is admirable, her memoir is alienating and reads more like a résumé than a biography.

Born in Kashmir, Daisy Khan moved to the US in high school to study design. She went on to found WISE, the Women’s Islamic Initiative in Spirituality and Equality, an organization that works for women’s rights. Born with Wings is her memoir and first book.

The book tells Khan’s life story chronologically, with each chapter focusing on one event in her life: a specific problem she overcame or an issue she explored. Interspersed between the chapters are snippets that highlight specific initiatives of her own or of other women. For example, one snippet tells the story of Misbah, a Pakistani beautician who helps the survivors of acid attacks receive medical and cosmetic treatment and regain their confidence. Continue reading

Review/Discussion—Women in the Qur’an by Asma Lamrabet and translated by Myriam Francois-Cerrah

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In her effort to deconstruct a patriarchal reading of the Qur’an, Asma Lamrabet offers up a new reading, but one that is neither evidence-based nor convincing.  

This book was frustrating for me. I really wanted to like it; I was hoping it would be able to offer newer, more progressive views on gender to replace older, problematic ones. While Lamrabet does offer many new interpretations, they are unsubstantiated, and for a Muslim, an interpretation is only as valuable as its evidence. 

Women in the Qur’an is made up of two parts:

  1. ”When the Qur’an Speaks of Women,” which retells the stories of specific women in the Qur’an (like Balkis, Umm Musa, and Maryam) and
  2. “When the Qur’an Speaks to Women,” which examines Allah’s interactions with women in the time of the Prophet (s) through the text of the Qur’an.

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Review—The New Muslim’s Field Guide by Theresa Corbin and Kaighla Um Dayo

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Theresa Corbin and Kaighla Um Dayo have written the book they wish they had when they converted to Islam. Drawing on decades of experience and focusing on practical advice rather than information-dumping, The New Muslim’s Field Guide discusses the major issues a new convert to Islam will have to contend with in a fun and friendly way. Continue reading

Review—The Miraculous Language of the Qur’an by Bassam Saeh

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Bassam Saeh’s The Miraculous Language of the Qur’an addresses a frequent problem that Muslims encounter when reading the Quran. For those who don’t understand Arabic, there are few resources that do more than merely translate the Quran and mention relevant hadiths. But even readers who understand Arabic experience a difficulty. The text of the Quran becomes familiar to them—they get used to the words and phrases. Instead of contemplating the fascinating linguistic patterns of the Quran, these readers remain stuck in a loop of superficial meanings they are familiar with. This book addresses both of these problems.

This slim volume (only 90 pages long) is a translation by Nancy Roberts of Bassam Saeh’s Arabic book al-Mu’jizah, Volume I. The discussion is carefully organized and the language is intelligent without being the kind of reading you expect to be assigned in a college class. The first part of the book is a general discussion of the linguistic miraculousness of the Quran and a concept that Saeh calls “newness.” The second part applies these ideas to Surah al-Muddaththir.  The text is broken up into small sections that keep the detailed conversation about Arabic grammar from becoming overwhelming. The organization, language, and size of this book make it accessible for a wide audience, and I highly recommend it.   Continue reading