Children of Dust: A Memoir of Pakistan by Ali Eteraz
Before he was even born, Abir ul Islam, which means ‘Perfume of Islam,’ was dedicated to Islam by his father. This is not to say that Abir always had a steady relationship with Islam, however. When he was young, Abir generally wanted to excel in his studies of the Koran, but he pushed back against cultural expressions of his religion in the form of the beatings of students at the madrassa. His rocky relationship with Islam continues when the family moves to the United States where his parents become fundamentalists and he, by turn, all but rejects his religion and becomes leader of the Muslim Student Association. It is after the events of 9/11, however, that Abir – now calling himself Ali Eteraz, which means ‘noble protest’ – really started to come into his own regarding his dedication to Islam and became a reformer.
Eteraz’s story is one that more people need to read. One thing that really stuck with me is about Ali and his parents as fundamentalist Muslims, just because they adhered to a stricter form of Islam, they saw no need for jihad, or anything of the like. Of course, this should be obvious that not all people who take a fundamental reading of their religion (whatever it is) want to kill people not of their same mindset, but it seems that this is a point that needs reinforcing.
Eteraz’s prose was quite good, although some passages had a mystical, poetic flair that always caught me off guard, and I was never quite sure how to respond to them. It also seemed like some things were skipped over that shouldn’t have been, occasionally I found myself confused as to what was happening. It is entirely possible, though, that this is just due to the baby distracting me. Although Eteraz’s style is very different than most memoirs I read, I enjoyed it on the whole and would definitely recommend it to those interested in the story of a boy dedicated to Islam who becomes a man dedicated to reforming Islam.
Source: Julie from FSB sent me this book for review.