Books: New Releases November/December

By Islamic Horizons Staff


 They Called Me a Lioness: A Palestinian Girl’s Fight for Freedom 

Ahed Tamimi, Dena Takruri 

2022. Pp. 288. HB. $27.00. Kindle $13.99

Random House, New York, N.Y.

The small West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, in which the world-renowned Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi was born and raised, became a center of the resistance to Israeli occupation when an illegal, Jewish-only settlement blocked off its community spring. Tamimi came of age participating in nonviolent demonstrations against this event and the occupation at large. Her global renown reached an apex in December 2017, when, aged 16, she was filmed slapping an Israeli soldier who refused to leave her front yard. The video went viral, and Tamimi was arrested.

This story, which transcends activism or imprisonment, is a teenager’s account of what it’s like to grow up in an occupation that has riveted the world and shaped global politics. One of Ahed’s earliest memories is visiting her father in prison, poking her toddler fingers through the fence to touch his hand. She would spend her 17th birthday behind bars. Living through this greatest test and heightened attacks on her village, Tamimi felt her resolve deepen, in tension with her attempts to live the normal life of a daughter, sibling, friend and student.

This book shines a light on the humanity not just in Occupied Palestine, but also in the unsung lives of people struggling for freedom around the world.

China and the Uyghurs  

Morris Rossabi  

2022. Pp. 182 HB. $58.75. PB. $29.00. Kindle $20.99

Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Lanham, Md.

Prof. Rossabi, who first published a breakthrough book on this topic in 1975, offers an even-handed history of Xinjiang and its Uyghur inhabitants. He traces this ethnic group’s development from imperial China to the present, as well as its fraught relationship with the Chinese state. 

His focus — especially on the Communist Party of China’s progressive and repressive policies toward the Uyghurs since 1949 — will interest those debating “what’s next” in regional power plays and ethnic group tensions following the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

No Escape: The True Story of China’’s Genocide of the Uyghurs

Nury Turkel 

2022. Pp. 352. HB. $22.99. Kindle $14.99

Hanover Square Press, Toronto

In this powerful autobiography/biography, Turkel (cofounder and board chair, the Uyghur Human Rights Project; a commissioner, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom) rips open China’s repression of his people. 

In recent years, China has locked up as many as 3 million Uyghurs in “reeducation camps,” which some identify as concentration camps. 

Born in 1970 in a reeducation camp, this future human rights attorney was lucky enough to survive and reach the U.S., where he became the first Uyghur to receive an American law degree. 

Now working as a lawyer, activist and spokesperson for his people, he advocates that liberal democracies formulate strong policy responses to address the crimes being committed against his people. 

The Fate of Abraham: Why the West is Wrong about Islam

Peter Oborne

2022. Pp. 528. HB. $24.66 PB. $20.00. Kindle $16.99

Simon & Schuster, UK

The Cold War appears to have been replaced by a new conflict — Islam vs. the West. After 9/11 and the launch of the “war on terror,” this narrative seemed prophetic. In his new analysis, Oborne contends that the concept of such an existential clash is a dangerous and destructive fantasy.

Based on rigorous historical research and forensic contemporary journalism that frequently leads him into war-torn states and bloody conflict zones, Oborne explains the myths, fabrications and downright lies that have contributed to this pernicious situation. He shows how various falsehoods run deep, reaching back as far as Islam’s birth, and been repurposed for the modern day. 

Many senior government officials across the West have suggested that Islam is trying to overturn our liberal values — even that certain Muslims are conspiring to take over the state. Among them is Douglas Murray, who claims in his new book that we face a “War on the West.” But in reality, these fears merely echo past debates as we continue to repeat the pattern of seemingly willful ignorance.

With murderous attacks on Muslims taking place from Bosnia in 1995 to China today, Oborne dismantles the underlying falsehoods and opens the way to a clearer and more truthful mutual understanding that will benefit us all in the long run.

The Suspect: Counterterrorism, Islam, and the Security State 

Rizwaan Sabir 

2022. Pp. 256. HB. $99.00. PB. $24.95. Kindle $11.49

Pluto Press, London, U.K.

What impact has two decades’ worth of policing and counterterrorism had on the state of mind of Britain’s Muslims? “The Suspect,” drawing on the author’s own lived experiences, takes the reader on a journey through British counterterrorism practices and the policing of Muslims.

Sabir describes what led to his arrest for suspected terrorism, his time in detention and the surveillance he was subjected to upon release, including stop and frisk on the roadside, detentions at the border and monitoring by police and government departments while researching this book.

Writing publicly for the first time about the traumatizing mental health effects of these experiences, he argues that these harmful outcomes are not the result of errors in government planning, but the consequences of using a counterinsurgency warfare approach to surveillance. If we are to break this injustice, we need to resist counterterrorism policy and practice.

Islamic Divorce in the Twenty-First Century: A Global Perspective 

Erin E. Stiles, Ayang Utriza Yakin (eds.)

2022. Pp. 232. HB. $120.00. PB. $39.95. Kindle $37.95

Rutgers University Press, New Brunswick, N.J.

This compilation offers a wide range of Muslim experiences in marital disputes and seeking divorces. For Muslims, being able to divorce in accordance with Islamic law is of paramount importance. However, their experiences in this regard differ tremendously. 

The contributors, who discuss divorce from West Africa to Southeast Asia, explore aspect of the everyday realities that these couples face. This cross-cultural and comparative look indicates that their divorces are impacted by global religious discourses on Islamic authority, authenticity and gender; global patterns of and approaches to secularity; and global economic inequalities and attendant patterns of urbanization and migration. 

Studying divorce as a mode of Islamic law in practice shows that the Islamic legal tradition is flexible, malleable and context dependent.

Arid Empire: The Entangled Fates of Arizona and Arabia  

Natalie Koch 

2023. Pp. 208. HB. $ 26.95. Kindle $7.99

Verso, Brooklyn, N.Y.

The American Southwest’s iconic deserts could not have been colonized and settled without the help of desert experts from the Middle East. For example, in 1856 a caravan of 33 camels arrived in Indianola, Texas, led by a Syrian cameleer the Americans called “Hi Jolly.” The U.S. government hoped that this “camel corps” would help the army secure this new swath of land it had just wrested from Mexico. Although the camel corps’ dream — and sadly, the camels — died, the idea of drawing on this specialized expertise, knowledge and practices did not.

In this evocative narrative history, Koch demonstrates the exchange of colonial technologies between the Arabian Peninsula and U.S. over the past two centuries — from date palm farming and desert agriculture to the utopian sci-fi dreams of Biosphere 2 and Frank Herbert’s “Dune” — bound  the two regions together, solidifying the colonization of the American West and, eventually, the reach of American power into the Middle East. Koch teaches us to see deserts anew — not as mythic sites of romance or empty wastelands but as an “arid empire,” a crucial political space in which imperial dreams coalesce.

Education Transformation in Muslim Societies: A Discourse of Hope 

Ilham Nasser (ed.)

2022. Pp. 232. HB. $22.00. Kindle $19.79

Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Ind.

Hope is a complex concept — one academics use to accept the unknown while expressing optimism. However, it can also be an action-oriented framework with measurable outcomes.

In this compilation, an international group of Muslim scholars offer a wealth of perspectives for incorporating hope in the education of students from kindergarten through university to stimulate change, dialogue and transformation in their communities. For instance, the progress made in Muslim societies with regard to early education and girls’ enrollment isn’t well documented. By examining effective educational initiatives and analyzing how they work, educators, policymakers and government officials can create a catalyst for positive educational reform and transformation.

Adopting strength-based educational discourse, the contributors relate how critical the whole-person approach is for enriching the brain and the spirit, as well as instilling hope back into the teaching and learning spaces of many Muslim societies and communities.

“Education Transformation in Muslim Societies’ is co-published with the International Institute of Islamic Thought.

Metalwork from the Arab World and the Mediterranean 

Doris Behrens-Abouseif  

2022. 340 pp./350 illus. color/b&w. PB. $50.00

Thames & Hudson, New York, N.Y.

This latest volume in the al-Sabah Collection series presents metalwork made in Syria, Egypt, Iraq and Yemen from the early Islamic period through the end of the Ottoman era in the 19th century. The pieces include exquisite platters, serving vessels, candlesticks and pen boxes produced for royal courts, as well as many beautifully decorated bronze domestic items such as bowls, lunch boxes, door knockers, buckets and lamps.

Rooted in earlier artistic traditions from the Mediterranean, Iraq, Iran and the Indian subcontinent, these metalwork traditions reflect the Arab world’s complex history following Islam’s advent. The collection starts in the Late Antique period, which informed the early Islamic royal styles of the Umayyad, Abbasid and Fatimid dynasties, and goes on to trace the emergence of Mosul as a center for metalwork in the 12th and 13th centuries; the influential courtly Mamluk style during the Bahri period (1250–1380s); the Circassian era (1380s–1517); the growth of the European export market (15th century); distinctive vernacular styles in Yemen (14th–16th centuries); and the many revivals and fusions of international styles over six centuries of Ottoman rule (1517–1900s). 

Finally, an enigmatic group of zoomorphic fittings that defy easy dating is celebrated for the craftsmanship and charm of its animal figures.

Ahmed Goes to Friday Prayer: Ahmed se va a la oración del viernes

Wendy Díaz, (Illus. Muhammad Guadalupe and Mariam Suhaila Guadalupe)

2022. Pp. 48. PB. $14.99

Hablamos Islam, Baltimore, Md.

In “Ahmed Goes to Friday Prayer,” Díaz uses her puppet Ahmed to present a unique step-by-step guide to the Friday congregational prayer from a child’s perspective. Ahmed El Titeriti is the star of the YouTube children’s program Hablamos Islam con Ahmed (We Speak Islam with Ahmed) on the Hablamos Islam channel. 

In her 14th book, Díaz continues to bring Latino and Muslim representation to children’s literature by sprinkling Islamic vocabulary throughout with definitions and bonus quiz pages at the end for parents and educators to use as learning tools. 

This bilingual English-Spanish book contains colorful photo illustrations that are sure to delight any young reader.

(TAGLINE)Shima Khan, Department of English, Wellesley High School, Wellesley, Mass.

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