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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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.

Partition of the heart

My voice holds them at bay. His travels forced him to grapple with a series of questions: Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. In Iran, where the nation-state imposes a literal Hiistory, he sees a people at odds with the history being fed to them. He lives between London and Delhi.

Looking forward to reading ‘The Way Things Were’ next! Also interesting was the persistence of seemingly out of place Hindu caste prejudices among the Muslim elites that he met, as well as a cultural bias against Israel, America and the West, all of which acted as talismans for the proclamation of Muslim identity.

Stranger to History – A Son’s Journey through Islamic Lands by Aatish Taseer – Canongate Books

But he is also, in some ways, disappointing, even though he and his family go out of their way to be generous and hospitable. See 1 question about Stranger to History….

The religion, in its varied manifestations, was once “a whole system of belief, complete with ideas of politics, law and behaviour”. There also, Islam encompasses all its followers under a species, jokingly called Homo Islamicos. A atish Taseer grew up in secular, pluralist India. Families were divided, relatives ended up across the border.


Taseer personifies the psychological world he grew up in, Punjabi, India, haunted by its pre-Partition past. Insightful, especially to a person who has very little knowledge of Islam. No trivia or quizzes yet.

It was a very different country then, oppressive in another way. Sep 14, Susan Ritz rated it really liked it Shelves: In “Articles of Faith” Aatish confronts members of his family when his half sister a doctor based in New York said about Ahmadinijihad’s denial of the Holocaust “There’d better have been a Holocaust because the only people who paid for it for the last fifty years have been Muslims”, followed by his father’s attempt to minimize the numbers.

They also consider their own governments and political classes as corrupted by western style. What we see now, whether in corrupt police states or in the “revived” Islamic regimes, is the loss of that older society.

Because what is Pakistan except a part of us, undivided India, that was separated and distorted into something it did not really want to be? The hietory is well thought out: It is very hard for me to say I am a Muslim. For Abdullah, its a mode of being, as temporal as being human. Nov 15, Samia rated it really liked it. This was his first sense of being a Muslim.

But the writer has much more reason to, of course, and though his story starts as an attempt to understand Islam in this time and age, it is in Pakistan that it finds its soul. He also meets the clerics, full of vehemence for a war tasder is not theirs until they choose to make it so and they do.


Recent events have added a coda to Stranger to Historyas his father was murdered by a political assassin. Finally, what seems most obvious is the experience of the living; faith as lived history, history as lived history and culture as lived history.

He had taseed a dim recollection of his father as an infant. It is impossible hiwtory to wonder. And the loss of exactly this is what makes Pakistan what it is today.

Syria was the perfect example of a closed world system, an ideal laboratory of isolation, a police state where the real world problems could be tuned out. 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.

If Taseer senior had stayed with his Indian lover, married her and brought up their son, I can’t help feeling they’d still be just as estranged. Taseer diagnoses the loss of tradition and some of its symptoms – indeed the book is a lament for what has gone – but once out of the subcontinent and into the more abstract search for Islamic identity, his journey is less compelling.

Mail will not be published required. His book clearly presents some food for thought, but often I would have liked him to concentrate on some topics a little longer and go deeper into the matter, that just touching it on the surface.