Stranger to History. A Son’s Journey through Islamic Lands. Aatish Taseer. Stranger to History. download cover image. “Stranger to History is a. I met Aatish Taseer. in New York last year, at the prize-giving ceremony of the National Book Awards of the USA. (my wife’s book, The Convert. Stranger to History – A Son’s Journey through Islamic Lands by Aatish Taseer – ebook () published by Canongate 19 March The story of a .

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In a chilling scene he’s interrogated by Iranian security who demand names of his contacts and details of his activities. I spent some time in Teheran in the early seventieswhen the Shah was at the height of his power. A fascinating trip through Islam- political, geographic and most importantly, cultural.

Whether this is because of the type of contacts Taseer made or is a genuine reflection of the countries he wandered through, I cannot say — but ‘defensiveness’ is what comes across, in the worst sense of the word. I came to Stranger to History, Taseer’s debut work after being thoroughly impressed by his piece on Sanskrit where he bemoaned the loss of a whole body of linguistic structure and culture thanks to colonialisation.

These words appear prophetic, with the recent failed coup against President Erdogan. As expressed by representative men in Turkey, Islam wants to dominate the world, where they are ready to grant the right to life to other religionists and perhaps nothing more.

It’s not JUST a travelogue.

Aatish Taseer’s ‘Stranger to History’ « Amitav Ghosh

Lists with This Book. But… it’s just the next round of brutality. It is difficult to classify this book into a genre. Pakistan had been cleansed of Hindus; barring a few thousands no diversity in terms of religion was permitted.

Stranger to History: A Son’s Journey through Islamic Lands

Aatish Taseer had worked as a reporter for Time magazine. Taseer succeeded in adding to my understanding. It is a fascinating book for anyone stramger in understanding how different Muslims view themselves obviously, it is not generalisable because of Taseer’s small sample atisy is interesting nonetheless.


In Syria he recognises an amorphous Muslim sense of “grievance”, but not the millions of Iraqi and Palestinian refugees. He knew their holidays and rituals as well as anyone taswer i. To understand what is it actually to be a Muslim in the present world. He meets the younger generation of British Pakistanis or Pakistani Brits full of radical faith and patriotism for an imagined country, full of aggression.

While he roams around the cities and countryside of these Islamic homelands, he experiences how these all are similar because of religion but different due to culture. In all of these places, the writer meets troubled, damaged, fascinating young Muslims, each of them dealing with the challenges of their faith and its complexities in their own way.

Quotes atih Stranger to Histo It is very hard for me to say I am a Muslim. They were replaced with the mujarrif, Muslim refugees from India, who introduced more fundamentalist Muslim leanings.

I enjoyed how his clear-headed, yistory questioning on the idea of the ideal Islamic way of life always tazeer with an impasse as the answering man from a Syrian cleric to his father entered into a rhetoric hiztory totally of convenient historical retellings and amorphous utopian dreams. He is taken with the idea of the split of Pakistan from India as a symbol of himself, or perhaps it works the other way around: He is a bridge that connects the two countries, as his parents — Indian Sikh mother and Pakistani Muslim father — met in the fag end of s and the author was born.

And Sind, for centuries so diverse, its culture and worship formed from that diversity, was for the first time in its history no longer a place of confluence.

He finds that Islam is for the most part a rigid culture, not particularly open and searching. Then he’s denied an extension to his visa and is unable to travel to the holy cities of Qom and Mashhad.

That is to say, while he is not personally religious, he feels a powerful sense of identity with the traditions of Islam. The narrative also drags at lethargic pace. The author clearly favors pluralism, with people of all po Taseer’s observations of people and places are engaging and his writing style carried me along.


The book seems more like a work of reportage, the author does not seem to question or seek answers to the presence of an aspiring suicide bomber in the middle of UK or the rise of a hyper religious regime in Turkey after decades of state backed policy of secularism. The book is highly recommended. Except for the novelistic flourishes in which Taseer waxes a sentence almost always too long on describing appearance of real people and the rhythms of landscape, he is in his element.

Strongly recommended to all. Jun 18, Pratiti rated it really liked it.

All in all, I enjoyed reading this book and I would recommend it to people interested in the Middle East, the subcontinent, Islam or religions in general. There is a Mandarin translated version. The author tells about the unbelievable straanger of a growing number of city dwellers to follow the Hare Krishna movement in Iran.

The stranger of the title is Taseer himself. It was personal, curious and his sentences encased within them a quiet tragedy that had me in thrall at his talent.

Soon after the reunion, the father was assassinated. After the civil war broke out in Syria, these universities turned out to be the breeding ground of ISIS terrorists.

Review: Stranger to History by Aatish Taseer | Books | The Guardian

It was, as he says, a very small sense. The Syrian Mufti is awarded the epithet “ferocious”, but Mufti Badr Hassoun is a liberal Muslim of Sufi background who repeatedly condemns terrorism and sectarianism, and campaigns against “honour” killing. Taseer asks, What is the nature and source of this faith that has become, in the modern world, so deeply politicized?

There also, Islam encompasses all its followers under a species, jokingly called Homo Islamicos. In Arabia, he ventures into the history of Islam, and how it got to where it is today.