My Bookshelf

Favourite Quotes

‘She is beautiful Bari, very beautiful,’ Asghar said. ‘She is graceful as a cypress. Her hair is blacker than the night of separation, and her face is brighter than the hours of love. Her eyes are like narcissi, big and beautiful. There is nectar in their whites and poison in their blacks. Her eyebrows are like two arched bows ready to wound the hearts of men with the arrows of their lashes. Her lips are redder than the blood of lovers, and her teeth look like pearls studded in a row . . . . I tell you she is beautiful.’

Twilight in Delhi
Ahmed Ali

‘What honourable noun does your honour bear?’

‘My name is Iqbal.’

‘May your Iqbal ever increase.’

Train to Pakistan
Khushwant Singh

The baron was astonished by my appearance. I certainly didn’t dress like anyone else in the city, to put it mildly. My suits fit my fine frame so well that I inspired envy in the best dressed of men. I won’t hide from you that my indifference towards women was partly due to my fascination with my own good looks. True, my close friends always made me doubt myself, but whenever I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror, I was convinced of my own charm and beauty. I was certain I could exploit my stylishness and good looks to gain entry into places others struggled to reach.

I Stared in the Night of the City
Bakhtiyar Ali

These contemporary Orientalist attitudes flood the press and the popular mind. Arabs, for example, are thought of as camel-riding, terroristic, hook-nosed, venal lechers whose undeserved wealth is an affront to real civilisation. Always there lurks the assumption that although the Western consumer belongs to a numerical minority, he is entitled either to own or to expend (or both) the majority of the world resources. Why? Because he, unlike the Oriental, is a true human being. No better instance exists today of what Anwar Abdel Malek calls “the hegemonism of possessing minorities” and anthropocentrism allied with Europocentrism: a white middle-class Westerner believes it his human prerogative not only to manage the nonwhite world but also own it, just because by definition “it” is not quite as human as “we” are. There is no purer example than this of dehumanized thought.

Edward W. Said

Many religions say to their followers, “the world is corrupt, but you can escape it.” Islam said to its followers, “the world is corrupt, but you can change it.”

Destiny Disrupted
Tamim Ansary

Personal Canon

Book Reviews

Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson: A Review

I highly recommend this novel to anyone looking for a story that blends the seen with the unseen. Whenever I think of modern Islamic literature and fiction, this is what will come to mind. Many philosophical quandaries are proposed throughout this work, from the Qur’an and its relationship with quantum computing to the all-important question of whether it’s haram to consume virtual pork in a video game. I will most definitely be adding this to my personal canon. Highly entertaining.

I Stared at the Night of the City by Bakhtiyar Ali: A Review

I highly recommend I Stared at the Night of the City to anyone and everyone. The book had such a profound impact on my own ideas about the power of the imagination that I’d go as far as to include it in my personal canon. Its multiple layers and deep meaning makes it a novel I will most definitely be revisiting in the future.

Train to Pakistan by Khushwant Singh: A Review

I highly recommend Train to Pakistan and go as far as to include it in my personal canon. Its social commentary provides insight into rural Punjabi life (in all its glorious vulgarities) and highlights the real human impacts of Partition. It wasn’t just the breaking up of a country but the breaking up of brotherly bonds tracing back generations.

The Wish Maker by Ali Sethi: A Review

I recommend this book to anyone familiar with Pakistan. For me personally, the novel brought to life some of Pakistan’s most tumultuous times. The history that I’ve studied in other non-fiction books finally begins to feel real.

Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond: A Review

I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the social sciences. Its multi-disciplinary approach makes it useful for almost any field. No matter your intellectual background or goal, you will find something new and exciting in this book, which will add to your future discoveries.