Monday, July 25

Islam’s Forgotten Booklovers - The Los Angeles Review of Books

You know what I regret? Well. I regret so many things but one of the things I regret is that I didn't spend enough time or have an inclination to learn languages. It just doesn't compute that well in my head. So I have to rely on brute force to learn other languages. But my desire to learn Farsi and Italian is still there. One day I will do so. And that will allow me to read books in that language. And that will allow me to browse books in shops in those countries. It's very frustrating to be in those bookshops and see all those wonderful books but cannot identify with them. They are so close but yet so far. Very frustrating. 
But the holiday im going with Diya is going to be a dream come true. Living in a library can you imagine? It will be so much fun. I'm looking forward to it. And when I read this article, I knew I was talking to a kindred spirit. That's exactly what I do. Buy books and then some more and more. But I'm trying to make sure I read some of the books I've bought :) 

Islam's Forgotten Booklovers - The Los Angeles Review of Books
(via Instapaper)

THOUGH I'VE NEVER BEEN to Baghdad, where Muslim booklovers gathered on al-Mutanabbi Street till a huge car bomb exploded there in March 2007, I've visited most other countries of the Middle East. And everywhere I've been, I've sought out shops, stalls, and roadside stacks of books. My earliest encounter with the booksellers of the Middle East came on a visit to Istanbul as a 17-year-old. Used to spending weekends browsing the dank Victorian bookshops of the Midlands, I stumbled upon a book market in a caravanserai, the Sahaflar Çarşisi. Centuries earlier it had been a Byzantine paper mart. Though I couldn't even read their titles back then, their covers looked so bright and beautiful. I bought a crimson Qur'an with a traditional ornamented case-binding and for the next month carried it all over Europe by train. A couple of years later, I visited Delhi for the first time. Seven hundred years before Lutyens rebuilt it for the Raj, Delhi was the shelter of literary refugees fleeing the Mongol invasion of Persia. There, in the crowded gullies around the Sufi shrine of Nizam al-Din, I found a copy of a book I had kept out on loan for much of my first year in college: R.A. Nicholson's edition of Rumi's Dīvān-i Shams-i Tabrīzī. Though Rumi hadn't fled to Delhi — his family instead escaped the Mongols westwards to Asia Minor — his poems have been read, and sung, in Nizam al-Din's shrine there for centuries. I carried that copy of the Dīvān around for another summer by train.

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