Read: Threading My Prayer Rug

Threading My Prayer Rug: One Woman’s Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim, by Sabeeha Rehman

Honestly, I hated this book at the beginning. I think it had something a lot to do with her ‘I AM AMERICAN’* and ‘I’m very Americanized today’ voice. I could be deadly wrong to some of you who’ve read this (also, I read this many, many months ago, so I’m the idiot here, perhaps, yes), but at least that’s what I could recall now.

While reading this, it took me back a little to the book ‘Because They Hate’ by Brigitte Gabriel (read in 2017). But it’s not that relevant here. Just thought I’d throw that book in as it was a really good read.

Back to the author and her memoir – I must state, she is one hell of a lucky human, having met and stayed with her arranged-marriage-husband through thick and thin. Note that both of them come from privileged backgrounds/families (not that there’s anything wrong with that), which is unlike other reads of the same geographical worlds I’ve read in the past.

They’re lucky – no spouse-beatings (no traces of domestic violence in the book, at least), no secret lovers prior to their arranged marriages, decent family backgrounds (no troubled relatives to worry about e.g. relatives jailed for political ‘crimes’), no ‘cover-yourself-you-Muslim-woman’ directives from her husband and family… You get the idea (I’m sorry if you don’t).

But what the book did manage to chronicle which I learned something from (finally, something) – is the kindness shown to them by fellow immigrants of different faiths while they moved to American in the 70s (could be 80s, I forget), and during and after 9/11.

There were little to insignificant zero traces of intolerance in between those decades and pages, which seemed a little… nevermind. Perhaps the author did have a wonderful, perfect experience living as a Muslim in New York City then (and now). After all, NYC is known to be a city that’s culturally diversified and tolerant. So there’s that.

Did I mention that both the author and her husband are medical professionals? Not the rags to riches kind, if you catch my drift. Do refer to paragraph three again if you need to.

Lastly, I mentioned not really liking this book at the beginning – so did I get into it and eventually found some joy if not solace while reading and upon finishing it? The answer is no. I didn’t. I didn’t like the book, generally speaking. But I did enjoy the little anecdotes of her life growing up in Pakistan, and the kindness they were shown while settling down and rising up in the Land of the Free. That’s about it.

(The book does live up to its tagline, though: One Woman’s Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim. But after reading it – I think it’s better-off as ‘One Woman’s Journey from Pakistan to America and Life as an Americanized Muslim’)

*There’s nothing wrong about stressing your nationality in whatever way you want. I capitalized this word to stress the weight she’d given to her American life and citizenship far far away from Pakistan. That is all. You really don’t need to decipher any further.

Why I Chose Not To Read Christina Lamb’s Book on Malala Yousafzai

Marie Arana of The Washington Post wrote,

Co-written with Christina Lamb, a veteran British journalist who has an evident passion for Pakistan and can render its complicated history with pristine clarity, this is a book that should be read not only for its vivid drama but for its urgent message about the untapped power of girls.

The first thing that came to mind when this book was launched? “Wow, that was fast.”

Really fast.

Malala was shot by the Taliban on 9th October 2012.

The book came out on 8th October 2013.

Perfect timing. One year anniversary of a world-changing event.

Writing, finding and quoting sources, verying sources, manuscripts, fact-checking, agents, editing, publishing matters – etc. in no particular order. All under 12 months, not counting the time the subject matter needed to recover from her trauma and injuries.

I had to assume that the book was written in a rush. How deep was it, how strong was the narrative, did it cover multiple bases, sources, they all came to play in my park mind.

I chose not to give it the benefit of the doubt. Even if Christina Lamb is highly accomplished. Plus, I read early reviews. None of them impressed me. I recall a few stating that it wasn’t quite Malala’s voice, just Christina’s. But yes, I could be wrong. The reviews could be wrong, too, right?

So I waited. True enough, another book came out, this time, a children’s version by Patricia McCormick (“… Her books rely heavily on research and interviews), albeit in the same year. But the reviews were impressive.

And so I read it.

And it was a really damn good read. Even for adults. Five stars. For time, and effort.

p.s. I stumbled upon this while writing my post. Not really looking for any validation here, just that she’s read both versions so her points are definitely worthwhile.