Ramadan Reading Challenge 2015

The Ramadan Challenge is back for a Third year! This challenge has always been incredible for me. It allows me to discover so many talented writers hailing from North Africa.In 2013,  I was very optimistic and challenge myself to read 7 books for the whole month. As you know, I was not on target. You can read all about it here.   In 2014, I was more realistic and challenge myself to 3 books. I succeed! You can read all about it here.2015, What will it be? Well, I will be reading…. 7 books. 

I realized some of the readers might not be familiar with the concept of Ramadan. So here is a little overview:

Ramadan  is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar;Muslims worldwide observe this as a month of fasting. This annual observance is regarded as one of the Five Pillars of Islam.The month lasts 29–30 days based on the visual sightings of the crescent moon, according to numerous biographical accounts compiled in hadiths. The word Ramadan comes from the Arabic root ramida or ar-ramad, which means scorching heat or dryness.Fasting is fardh (obligatory) for adult Muslims, except those who are ill, travelling, pregnant, diabetic or going through menstrual bleeding.

Sources: Wikipedia

Very Interesting Facts about Islam in Africa:

  1. They are 421,938,820 Millions muslims in Africa as of 2013 ( 1,6 Billions muslins worldwide)
  2. The presence of Islam in Africa can be traced  back to the seventh century (7th Century)
  3.  Somali or Ethiopia  became the first safe haven for Muslims and the first place Islam would be practiced outside of the Arabian Peninsula
  4. Nigeria is number 6 out of the top ten countries with the largest muslim population worldwide

Disclaimer: These facts were found around the web, I can’t guarantee their veracity at 100%. As you are well aware, a lot of facts related to Islam in Africa are contested. Also,  some people have a tendency to exaggerate numbers and facts.

RAMADAN READING CHALLENGE LIST

Rules 

Francophone & Anglophone authors/books  will be mixed. No Arabic, unfortunately my arabic is not that strong!

Genre: Fiction and non-fiction

All arab countries including the gulf countries are in scope

To put things in context, here is a map of Northern Africa

arab_world

And a map of the gulf countries:

Carte

Here is my list!

Non-Fiction:

1) Muslim Women a Biographical Dictionary by  Aisha Abdurrahman Bewley (Not yet in my library)

download

Islam has always provided an incredibly flexible environment in which women may flourish and achieve their true potential. Looking back to the time of the Prophet, may Allah (swt) bless him and grant him peace, women were extremely active in all areas of life. The negative stereotype of the role of Muslim women, which is often trumpeted in the media, stems from ignorance of the reality of the position of women in Islam. This dictionary is a comprehensive reference source of women throughout Islamic history from the first century A.H. to roughly the middle of the thirteenth century A.H. A perusal of the entries shows that Muslim women have been successful as, for example, scholars and businesswomen as well as fulfilling their roles as wives and mothers for the past fourteen centuries. In an age when limiting perspectives have come to be the norm, this is a most timely work. Aisha Abdurrahman at-Tarjumana Bewley is one of today’s most prolific translators of classical Arabic works into English. She is not only learned in the Arabic language but also well-versed in the basic meanings and nature of the teachings and history of Islam. Being herself a Muslim, her knowledge is born of experience and direct transmission, not simply academic theory and learning by rote. For more than twenty-five years she has been concerned with making the contents of many classical works in Arabic more accessible to English-speaking readers for the first time, including Al-Muwatta’ of Imam Malik (Madinah Press, 1991) and the Tabaqat of Ibn Sa’d, published as The Women of Madina (Taha Publishers, 1995) and The Men of Madina I and II (TaHa Publishers, 1997 and 2000).

2) The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History by Ibn Khaldûn (Author), Franz Rosenthal (Translator) (Not yet in my library)

download (1)

The Muqaddimah, often translated as “Introduction” or “Prolegomenon,” is the most important Islamic history of the premodern world. Written by the great fourteenth-century Arab scholar Ibn Khaldûn (d. 1406), this monumental work established the foundations of several fields of knowledge, including the philosophy of history, sociology, ethnography, and economics. The first complete English translation, by the eminent Islamicist and interpreter of Arabic literature Franz Rosenthal, was published in three volumes in 1958 as part of the Bollingen Series and received immediate acclaim in the United States and abroad. A one-volume abridged version of Rosenthal’s masterful translation first appeared in 1969.

This Princeton Classics edition of the abridged version includes Rosenthal’s original introduction as well as a contemporary introduction by Bruce B. Lawrence. This volume makes available a seminal work of Islam and medieval and ancient history to twenty-first century audiences.

 

 3) Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest by Martin Lings (Author) (Not yet in my library)

download (2)

Martin Lings’ biography of Muhammad is an internationally acclaimed, comprehensive, and authoritative account of the life of the prophet. Based on the sira, the eighth- and ninth-century Arabic biographies that recount numerous events in the prophet’s life, it contains original English translations of many important passages that reveal the words of men and women who heard Muhammad speak and witnessed the events of his life.

Scrupulous and exhaustive in its fidelity to its sources, Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources is presented in a narrative style that is easily comprehensible, yet authentic and inspiring in its use of language, reflecting both the simplicity and grandeur of the story it tells. This revised edition includes new sections detailing the prophet’s expanding influence and his spreading of the message of Islam into Syria and its neighboring states. It represents the final updates made to the text before the author’s death in 2005. The book has been published in 12 languages and has received numerous awards, including acknowledgment as best biography of the prophet in English at the National Seerate Conference in Islamabad.

4) Al-Muhaddithat: The Women Scholars in Islam by Mohammad Akram Nadwi (Author)  (Not yet in my library)

download (4)This book is an adaptation in English of the prefatory volume of a 40-volume biographical dictionary (in Arabic) of women scholars of the Prophet s hadith. Learned women enjoyed high public standing and authority in the formative years of Islam. For centuries thereafter, women travelled intensively for religious knowledge and routinely attended the most prestigious mosques and madrasas across the Islamic world. Typical documents (like class registers and ijazahs from women authorizing men to teach) and the glowing testimonies about their women teachers from the most revered ulema are cited in detail. An overview chapter, with accompanying maps, traces the spread of centres of hadith learning for women, and their eventual decline. The information summarized here is essential to a balanced appreciation of the role of women in Islamic society.

 

 Fiction:

1) Anatomy of a Disappearance by Hisham Matar

cache_189_280_3_100_80_16777215_AnatomyDisappearance

This mesmerizing literary novel is written with all the emotional precision and intimacy that have won Hisham Matar tremendous international recognition. In a voice that is delicately wrought and beautifully tender, he asks: When a loved one disappears, how does that absence shape the lives of those who are left? “A haunting novel, exquisitely written and psychologically rich.”–“The Washington Post” Nuri is a young boy when his mother dies. It seems that nothing will fill the emptiness her death leaves behind in the Cairo apartment he shares with his father–until they meet Mona, sitting in her yellow swimsuit by the pool of the Magda Marina hotel. As soon as Nuri sees Mona, the rest of the world vanishes. But it is Nuri’s father with whom Mona falls in love and whom she eventually marries. Their happiness consumes Nuri to the point where he wishes his father would disappear. Nuri will, however, soon regret what he’s wished for. When his father, a dissident in exile from his homeland, is abducted under mysterious circumstances, the world that Nuri and his stepmother share is shattered. And soon they begin to realize how little they knew about the man they both loved. Anatomy of a Disappearance is written with all the emotional precision and intimacy that have won Hisham Matar tremendous international recognition. In a voice that is delicately wrought and beautifully tender, he asks: When a loved one disappears, how does their absence shape the lives of those who are left?

 

2) The African Equation by Yasmina Khadra

cache_189_280_3_100_80_16777215_AfricanEquation_YasminaKhadra

A new masterpiece from the author of “The Swallows of Kabul.” Frankfurt MD Kurt Krausmann is devastated by his wife’s suicide. Unable to make sense of what happened, Kurt agrees to join his friend Hans on a humanitarian mission to the Comoros. But, sailing down the Red Sea, their boat is boarded by Somali pirates and the men are taken hostage. The arduous journey to the pirates’ desert hideout is only the beginning of Kurt’s odyssey. He endures imprisonment and brutality at the hands of captors whose failings are all too human. As the situation deteriorates, it is fellow prisoner, Bruno, a long-time resident in Africa, who shows Kurt another side to the wounded yet defiant continent he loves. A giant of francophone writing, Algerian author Yasmina Khadra takes current events as a starting point to explore opposing views and myths of Africa and the West, ultimately delivering a powerful message of friendship, resilience, and redemption. Yasmina Khadra is the pen name of Mohammed Moulessehoul, a former Algerian army officer and now director of the Algerian Cultural Center in Paris. In November 2013, he announced his candidacy for the presidency of Algeria.

 

3) Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih

cache_189_280_3_100_80_16777215_SeasonMigrationTayeb

After many years of study in Europe, the young narrator of Season of Migration to the North returns to his village along the Nile in the Sudan, eager to make a contribution to the new postcolonial life of his country. Back home, he discovers a stranger among the familiar faces of childhood—the enigmatic Mustafa Sa’eed. Mustafa takes the young man into his confidence, telling him the story of his own years in London in the early part of the twentieth century, of his brilliant career as an economist, and of the series of fraught and deadly relationships with European women that led to a terrible public reckoning and his return to his native land. But what is the meaning of Mustafa’s shocking confession? Mustafa disappears without explanation, leaving the young man —whom he has asked to look after his wife—in an unsettled and violent no-man’s-land between Europe and Africa, tradition and innovation, holiness and defilement, and man and woman, from which no one will escape unaltered or unharmed. One of the pinnacles of modern Arabic literature, Season of Migration to the North is a work of scorching honesty and incandescent lyricism.

PLease do join me during this holy month. Starting date is June 17 2015.

My references for this wonderful list are below:

  1. http://kinnareads.com/2012/01/20/a-north-africa-reading-list/
  2. http://www.semicolonblog.com/?page_id=12777
  3. http://kinnareads.com/2012/01/06/lists-africas-100-best-books-of-the-20th-century/
  4. http://www.shelfari.com/productivemuslim
  5. http://arablit.org/
  6. http://www.africabookclub.com/

Ramadan Mubarak and Happy reading!

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One response to “Ramadan Reading Challenge 2015

  1. Pingback: Ramadan, Reading | Arabic Literature (in English)·

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