The Paper Rants

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Archive for the tag “Islam”

Shalimar the Clown – Salman Rushdie

Shalimar-the-Clown4/5

All the time while I was reading this, I was specially reminded of the ‘Kashmir Hour’ broadcasted on PTV during the late 90s when the photos of mutilated bodies and wailing mothers used to repeatedly flash on the screen that made an 8 year old me cringe and get chilled to the bones. The fight for freedom was rich and loud while we dined and the TV blasted off songs of Humera Channa calling out to the world’s justice. We had no other option to switch a different channel. We had to realise that the war of freedom is hollering worse than ever until it got muffled over the years on our ears.

So this book is about Kashmir. Rushdie wanted to spit venom and did a tremendous job of it. Though the story rocked me out of my blazers, the long winded lament of Kashmir was a tad bit overdone. Rushdie wanted to come out ugly. He succeeded.

Such violence. Much drama.

The book starts in an intense manner when India (Kashmira), a smart woman of 30, harbours sexual thoughts for her father’s chauffer, a lean handsome Kashmiri man inducted specially for her father’s services. Later when her father, America’s counter terrorism chief, Max Ophulus (whose name is so wildly sensual) gets assassinated, the assassin turns out to be none other than the handsome chauffer himself who happens to be the husband of India’s mother. So there, now that you have a great Bollywood twist there, let’s move on to the more pressing matter at hand, Rushdie’s political concerns, which are not hard to discern through the text.

Rife with anti-Pakistan sentiments, Rushdie moves on to create a really ugly picture at the Line of Control, which is though somewhat true, stands out relentlessly as a biased stance of a one man’s propaganda. Other than that the book was an epitome of smart writing and rich cultural history. The realism, the dark magic, the Kashmiri food, the villages, the smell of the valley, the richness of the dialect screamed through the pages and while you can shrug off Rushdie’s biasness of Kashmiri’s fate, you cannot help but laud him for the powerful piece of writing.

I know the guy had gone through a lot of hate in the past, some deserved and some undeserved, but this book stands a chance to be read and analysed, along with other literature on Kashmir. And so while I cannot say it is one of the best books on Kashmir, it exists and it makes sure to leaves off a mark that is hard to rub off.

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After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam – Lesley Hazleton

download3.5/5

*The review is solely based on my religious beliefs. May differ from yours which I respect and do not wish to discuss save only from what you have to say about the book.

I was an emotional b*tch while reading this in public transport. I understand that religion can be really sentimental and plays the chord of your heart like no other but I’d really like to get over my sentiments to make most out of the rational part. So, it was pretty hard for me to not remain teary eyed in the initial chapters on the beloved Prophet Muhammad (May thousands of blessings be upon him).
The split of Sunni-Shia is a subject which isn’t a new one and though many stories and facts are heard about it, no single reason is ever drawn. After reading this book, I can say it was all due to the result of an over possessiveness of a jealous wife and the devotees of the Prophet.
The book is a somewhat biased factual record of the history and if there was anything, it inspires in your life all the goodness that is in Islam and gets to the bottom of certain laws and events which always were doubtful or needed explanation on the subject. The fact is much more blood could’ve been saved to run a gush in the battle fields had the Prophet decided whose side he was on (according to the book). Much as was the Prophet unable to decide whether to be biased towards his loving wife or his own blood, Muslims too are torn between their love for the Mothers of the Faithful and the Ahl-e-bait.
The external factors and much of the incidents were a real eye opener and the split’s lineage to the current political situation of the middle east with reference to Sunni- Shia split was very knowledgeable too but though I thought it to be unbiased, in the end almost all of the accounts are from the Shia texts leaving little room for the Sunni’s less than no accounts of the events whatsoever. The book is a summarized version of the events as it happened so many of the details are voluntarily omitted.
Not a minute while reading this book did I ever yawn or got bored of the text, interesting and full of zest as it was, kept me on the toes.

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