Ali-Karamali may overstate the case somewhat, but her book is significant in a time of continued misconceptions about Islam.

DEMYSTIFYING SHARIAH

WHAT IT IS, HOW IT WORKS, AND WHY IT'S NOT TAKING OVER OUR COUNTRY

An examination of Shariah, a concept that has been distorted in the U.S. and elsewhere in recent years.

Ali-Karamali, author of The Muslim Next Door, attempts to explain the meaning of Shariah to non-Muslims, emphasizing it as a benign and indeed beneficial trait of Islam. After a section introducing readers to basic fundamentals of Islam—e.g., Who was Muhammad? What is the Quran?—the author begins to unwrap the meaning of Shariah itself. Refreshingly, she shies away from giving a simple definition, instead characterizing Shariah as a broad and in some ways all-encompassing system of Islamic wisdom. In fact, in the introduction, she writes, “in religious terms, shariah is the path you take to quench your spiritual thirst….It’s the path you follow to be a good and righteous person. In a nutshell: shariah is the way of God.” Throughout the book, Ali-Karamali notes that Shariah, in its truest form, was and is entirely flexible and adaptable to varying cultures and conditions. It was built on generations of scholarly analysis and interpretation of the Quran and the Hadith (the words and acts of Muhammad). The author argues that for generations, Shariah promoted a healthy, fruitful civilization marked by concern for those in need, clemency, and the rights of women, among much else. She contends that Western colonization interrupted Muslim cultures, disrupting and perverting Shariah, forcing it to conform to more rigid standards found in European law. As she explains, Muslim-majority countries continue to grapple with how to rediscover the flexible, liberalizing Shariah practices of the past. Ali-Karamali’s explanation of Shariah is a useful counter to the perceptions of many in the West. Throughout, she contends that the misuse of Shariah is limited to a miniscule fraction of Muslims and that without European interference, everything from the Ayatollah Khomeini’s abuses of power to the rise of the Islamic State group could have been avoided.

Ali-Karamali may overstate the case somewhat, but her book is significant in a time of continued misconceptions about Islam.

Pub Date: May 12, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-8070-3800-0

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Beacon

Review Posted Online: Jan. 16, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

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BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME

NOTES ON THE FIRST 150 YEARS IN AMERICA

The powerful story of a father’s past and a son’s future.

Atlantic senior writer Coates (The Beautiful Struggle: A Father, Two Sons, and an Unlikely Road to Manhood, 2008) offers this eloquent memoir as a letter to his teenage son, bearing witness to his own experiences and conveying passionate hopes for his son’s life. “I am wounded,” he writes. “I am marked by old codes, which shielded me in one world and then chained me in the next.” Coates grew up in the tough neighborhood of West Baltimore, beaten into obedience by his father. “I was a capable boy, intelligent and well-liked,” he remembers, “but powerfully afraid.” His life changed dramatically at Howard University, where his father taught and from which several siblings graduated. Howard, he writes, “had always been one of the most critical gathering posts for black people.” He calls it The Mecca, and its faculty and his fellow students expanded his horizons, helping him to understand “that the black world was its own thing, more than a photo-negative of the people who believe they are white.” Coates refers repeatedly to whites’ insistence on their exclusive racial identity; he realizes now “that nothing so essentialist as race” divides people, but rather “the actual injury done by people intent on naming us, intent on believing that what they have named matters more than anything we could ever actually do.” After he married, the author’s world widened again in New York, and later in Paris, where he finally felt extricated from white America’s exploitative, consumerist dreams. He came to understand that “race” does not fully explain “the breach between the world and me,” yet race exerts a crucial force, and young blacks like his son are vulnerable and endangered by “majoritarian bandits.” Coates desperately wants his son to be able to live “apart from fear—even apart from me.”

This moving, potent testament might have been titled “Black Lives Matter.” Or: “An American Tragedy.”

Pub Date: July 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-9354-7

Page Count: 176

Publisher: Spiegel & Grau

Review Posted Online: May 6, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2015

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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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