Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Name Is Iran

Nope, not my name! It's another book I've read for my ISU. This time around, I was not organized as I was with Infidel. Although I didn't do a page-by-page log for that novel, but after reading it through once, I was still able to retain information and locate the quotes that I had wanted with quite ease. Ardalan's was a bit hard, as the flow was not as coherent as Hirsi Ali's. In terms of writing style, I was more comfortable with Hirsi Ali's. Hirsi was also more fiery when it came to her arguments, and her experiences were told in a matter-of-fact morbid recollections and sometimes an angry tone. Ardalan's was more affectionate and romanticized, and although she went through an internal turmoil, it had less of the articulated severity in comparison with Hirsi Ali. It was quite docile and almost akin to Nafisi's Reading Lolita. (I started reading a few chapters and I just couldn't bear with the flowery language).

Basically, the book is an autobiography of Iran Davar Ardalan. 1/3 of it was about her mom and her grandmother. In Infidel, although there was a brief family history description, but the bulk of her book was about her life experiences, which was why I found that she optimized her writings to elaborate more on the internal conflicts and criticism. Iran is more centered on appreciation of heritage and Islam is treated more like a cultural heritage than a choice religion. The book does not really talk about Islam in its essence, but rather as a culture. It does not really explore the rights of women in Islam. Another problem I have is the fact that the Islam described here is not contemporary Islam, but Sufism and Shiites, which I don't think reflect the majority of muslims in the world. I don't know. I stand corrected.

However, Iran was lucky that she didn't fully blame it on the religion, but rather the conduct of it, but she didn't really go into the details. She just got tired of it and fled for the US for a new life. In the middle of the book, she did show promise when writing about her internal conflict when she made the decision to leave Iran, but after that, hmm... She did mention influential figures in Iran's Muslim Feminist movements like Nafisi, Ebadi and all. I would say Iran is not entirely all bad, it would still do for a Feminist-related thesis, but to compare it with Infidel, Iran definitely has a mellower voice. Not strong enough to be pitted against Hirsi Ali. It does not really "clash".

The two did went through failed marriages and a phase of becoming devout muslims, but later found frustration and retreated to the West. The difference between Hirsi Ali and Iran was basically the way they were brought up. Iran was brought up a secular muslim and exposed to the Western culture, whereas Hirsi Ali was only exposed to Western culture as an adult. When Ardalan described her family life, I was reminded of the Muslim American woman who won an American beauty pageant contest a while ago, I forgot her name. She was raised in a family practicing both Islam and Christianity, similar to Iran.

I can't actually make a complete log like I did with Infidel because I don't have a whole day to compile the excerpts and put it in my blog and I didn't retain the information in my head to relocate those excerpts. But so far, this is what I thought of the book.

I now have Amina Wadud's Inside The Gender Jihad and Reading Lolita In Tehran to read, which I don't know when will I find the time to do so, and I have to do my homework on Iran revolution, Sufism, Shiite muslims, Muslim Brotherhood, Somalia revolution, just to get an idea of the background of the time settings for both Infidel and Iran.

Okay, so still. Not a confirmed decision yet.

Back to work.

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