Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women
12 journalers for this copy...
This is a replacement for my bookray which was lost. See this JE for prior entries. Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women
Bookray will remain open until last person has the book. Please PM if you would like to join.
amcamp1644 - US - US or CAN
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Secretariat - Can - International
Kalise - Austria - EU
Icila - France - anywhere
Okyrhoe - Greece - anywhere
Tregossip, UK - EU
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Shovelmonkey1 - UK - anywhere <----- here
Nu-Knees - UK - UK
tree-hugger - UK
You all know how it goes, receive it, journal, read it, journal, send it, journal and enjoy! If it's going to be more than a month or so, because life can sometimes get in the way - or because after a dry spell of months and months of no book rings, 4 come in at the same time - drop me a note.
Off to the next person. Enjoy!
I'll get this off to kalise as soon as I'm able to make a trip to the post office.
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Be that as may, I couldn't agree more with the sentence: "At some point every religion, especially one that purports to encompass a complete way of life and system of government, has to be called to account for the kind of life it offers the people in the lands where it predominates." (p. 231)
Book is ready to travel on to the next reader, icila, whom I have already contacted.
Very interesting , I travel a lot in Muslim countries and try to understand who is behind the veil.
Thanks for sharing.
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Will start very soon as current read not grabbing my attention.
One of the best,evenhanded books on the lives if Islamic women I've ever read - in the post before Easter.
Who hath created all things, who
Hath created man of congealed blood.
Read, by thy most beneficent Lord,
Who taught us the use of the pen,
who teaches man that which he knoweth not."
The Koran: The Chapter of Congealed Blood
I have been living, working and travelling in the Middle East since I was nineteen years old. That's over eleven years now. In that time I have taken buses, boats, service taxis, trains, planes, lorries, scooters, camels and horses to get across Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey. I've travelled from the Iraqi Border to Istanbul, from Aqaba to Aleppo and still have yet to reconcile my feelings on various attitudes towards women.
Geraldine Brooks has written an approachable, easy-to-read guide to the Koran and what is says about women. She makes a clear distinction between the teachings of the Koran and the Hadith as how they are then interpreted by various different groups. Interpretations vary widely across the pan-Islamic world hence the variety of rules and regulations which govern womens lives vary quite greatly from country to country. However, this is only a very introductory guide - this is not a definitive examination... go out, seek other books and talk to other women! You will not finish this book and walk away with a complete and unbiased understanding of the Islamic faith in its many, rich and varied forms.
Brooks, in a relatively privileged position as an established journo was able to talk to numerous successful powerful women, including Queen Noor of Jordan, several of her female advisers and one of the daughters of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Not your average cross section of middle eastern women by any stretch of the imagination.
My time in the Middle East usually involved living and working in fairly rural communities, although that said, I also lived in Aqaba for a fair period of time and the shores of Red Sea at Aqaba are graced with a pizza hut, a Radisson and a Movenpick hotel - not exactly small potatoes.
The women I have met, like Brooks' group, came from a variety of backgrounds; young professionals who went sans headscarf in the city, young village wives newly married, family matriarchs and government officials. A gentleman who used to work for me had two wives; a town wife and a country wife. Country wife was the first wife and a marriage of love. She lived off the desert highway in a small freeholding with goats, sheep, chickens, vines and a lovingly tended vegetable patch. She was unable to have children so a second wife, the town wife had been acquired through an arranged marriage. Town wife was young, spangly and lived in a small modern air conditioned apartment with a big TV. Quite a stark contract to the beautiful but humble dwelling of the wife out in the country who drew her water from the well. Both wives knew of each others existence but chose not to live together in the same house.
All of the men I have worked with have treated me with kindness, respect and deference. They have paid me what they believe is their highest compliment, often telling me that i'm "as good as man". As massively sexist as that sounds it is just the way they see things and I'm not about to cack-handedly try to alter their benchmark or world view. Through them I met their charming, erudite, spirited and happy wives and daughters who were knowledgeable and talented at things I was not. Sure I got my "good as a man tag" by being good at 4x4 off road desert driving and being a good marksman but I cannot sew, weave, bake bread, sing, dance or grow and maintain a magnificent garden in an arid desert environment. If I lived in the Middle East I think I would value those talents more too. As a woman who has lived and worked in these countries I can empathise with some of the situations that Brooks describes. Here are my top 5 "not great being a woman" experiences, in no particular order:
1. Having my ass groped in Martyr Square, Damscus (I avenged myself by punching the offending busy-handed git by smacking him in the side of the head. The two French guys I was travelling with were very surprised by the sudden flurry of violence as they hadn't noticed what was going on. NB many local gents drinking tea in the vicinity applauded - apparently avenging honour is not just a male perogative).
2. Having my breasts grabbed while walking along the Corniche in Alexandria. Strolling along, minding my own when a boy of about 13 ran up put out both hands, grabbed, squeezed and then legged it. Random.
3. The Tampax Police, Amman - While departing from Amman I was searched in the ladies privacy booth by a female security guard who was lovely and polite and patient to my child-like arabic. She emptied my bag and out fell a cluster of tampons. She asked what they were. I tried to explain (cue basic arabic and a fairly graphic mime). No. She shook her head and called her supervisor. The supervisor turned up, opened all them all, snapped them in half and then gave them back to me. Uh, thanks, I kind of needed those. Needless to say they went in the bin.
4. Narrowly escaping serious sexual assault on board a bus to Van Golu.
5. Being chased by men on scooters near my pansion in Tripoli, Lebanon.
See, none of those experiences were exactly great but they have never deterred me from returning to work in this part of the world because the good far outweighs any bad experiences perpetrated by a few ignorant individuals. I have worn many elements of Islamic dress and have an extensive collection of head scarves. There is more beyond the veil than many might expect.
I love the Liverpool postcard, a city I've not been to for years but remember with pleasure, and the cute bookmark which I'll definitely use while reading this book, thanks.
Thanks again to all previous readers for the opportunity to read it :-)
Now Reserved for Tree-hugger, then, with no further names on the list, we'll probably take it to Release at the UK Unconvention 2011 in Nottingham in September!
CONTROLLED RELEASE NOTES:
Link to another non-fiction by Geraldine Brooks that I've read and enjoyed, Foreign Correspondence: A Pen Pal's Journey from Down Under to All Over.
There are lots of short chapters, each taking a different subject and each very interesting. I found it particularly fascinating to read about the real lives of Muhammed and Khomeini, and their interaction with the women in their own lives.
Most eye-opening for me was probably the stuff about female sexuality. I confess that I had rather ignorantly imagined a lot of strict muslims to find women's sexuality fundamentally shameful and dirty. But here we see devout married muslims talking with ease about enjoying sex & incorporating erotic dancing and clothing and so on - Brookes shows us that among her acquaintances married women are very much allowed (and expected) to enjoy sex. A lot of the issues which are covered in the book are about trying to control female sexuality and keep it in it's proper place, so the situation is so much more complex than the simple revulsion of female sexuality which I had imagined.
This book is getting old, and I was pleased to be able to reflect that western understanding has moved on a bit in the intervening period. At the end we see a murderer being acquitted because his crime is misrepresented as being a crime of passion, and I do like to think that our courts are not so ignorant about honour killings now. But this book is still very relevant, and has furthered my own understanding (particularly about what's in the koran and what's a cultural interpretation), so I pass it on with my hearty recommendation.
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