It is coincidence that as I was reading this book and as I write this review that among the many stories in the news there was a shooting in Texas due to cartoons showing Muhammad, six PEN authors have drawn out of Gala where Charlie Hebdo would receive an award, and NPR is doing a piece about an art show in California and whether or not Islamic art is a correct term to use.
In many ways, Ali’s newest book is timely, not simply because of what is in the news but because it is a good companion to Headscarves and Hymens (or Eltahaway’s book is a good companion to this one) as both women are advocating the same idea just different focuses.
No doubt people will say that Ali is an Islam phobic, that she is biased, and that what she says is hate speech. Well, in that so was Martin Luther and so is Pope Francis. Because, she has a point. Why is being critical about someone/something or suggesting change automatically hate speech? If I say that the structure of the Catholic Church, including the willingness of high officials, allowed for the abuse that occurred over years? Am I guilty of hate speech? So why do certain subjects, in Ali’s case Islam, get a blanket protection.
What I actually found most interesting about this book, aside from the thesis of Reformation, is Ali’s division into Medina and Mecca Muslims, as well as her discussion about the different schools of Islam. And that is important because the news really doesn’t make this divide, or at least the average American newscast doesn’t (being too concern about a royal baby that has nothing to do with the USA), and it should because it allows the layman to see the religion as more than the mass that is usually presented to the non-Muslim public.