Minarets in the Mountains: A Journey Into Muslim Europe (Bradt Travel Guides (Travel Literature))

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Minarets in the Mountains: A Journey Into Muslim Europe (Bradt Travel Guides (Travel Literature))

Minarets in the Mountains: A Journey Into Muslim Europe (Bradt Travel Guides (Travel Literature))

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So the focus is entirely on Islam, and the book effectively becomes a tour of the region’s mosques, with some Ottoman history interspersed. As a Muslim myself, I certainly stress the opinion of the importance of “adab” or “manners” in educating the Muslims, let alone the non-Muslims. Following in the footsteps of renowned Ottoman traveller Evliya Celebi, they remind us that Europe is as Muslim as it is Christian, Jewish or pagan. I was excited by the theme, which is well worth exploring, but I believe the author went to the region with preconceived notions which he then tried to fit into the narrative.

The author readily admits his task is to reveal that Islam is an under-appreciated component of European history and Muslims are not the "others" that segments of European politics suggest they are.He also talks about ‘komšiluk’ as the name for a concept of good neighbourliness that permeates the region. On Mostar’s bridge – “Did you know that Western ‘experts’ of Bosnia for years couldn’t get themselves to admit that the Ottomans had built the bridge? Tharik also brilliantly dissects the more recent political events and idealogies which attempted to eradicate any semblance of Islamic history.

There have been aggressive attempts in replacing Muslim cultures, and deliberation of destroying them to the extent of writing up new and alternative narratives which is saddening. I particularly liked the recounting of the sacred Jewish manuscript being hidden from the nazis which he recounted in the final chapter of the book. The Bosnian war in the 1990’s and the subsequent ethnic cleansing of Bosnian Muslims by Serbian forces, saw the deaths of thousands of Bosnians- a truly immeasurable loss. Even if the West does not accept Muslims anytime soon, Tharik believes it is important for Muslims to at least know their own history. They want Plato, they want Aristotle, they want Hippocrates but they're not so keen on Sultan Suleiman or Mehmed Sokollu Pasha,” Tharik says.This raises a question – not considered – as to whether Hussain’s tour is the equivalent of arriving in an Irish town, popping into its church, praising its Christian architecture and history, and drawing all your conclusions on the local area from that. However, while the perception of Muslims may not change as quickly as he would like, it definitely had an immediate and lasting impact on him and his family. Great subject - with 5 star expectations I ended 1 star review - I didn’t like Tharik’s political standing and his attitude.

Tharik's contribution to this bestseller on Thailand includes his fascinating exploration of the country's little-known Muslim culture in the south. When asked how to get rid of these Islamophobic attitudes, Tharik believes it is not straightforward nor a quick fix. The project as a whole (exploring the majority-Muslim countries of Eastern Europe) is very worthy and manages moments of interest and beauty. Normal assumptions of Muslims identity - long beard and hijab, but what made the Muslims of the Balkan so important is because they are as European as they are Muslims, as they were not resulted from immigration or converts. He dives into the thinking behind why such a significant part of European history has vanished from memory, education and our books.As a reader (and history buff), the most eye-opening chapters were those on Serbia; I was surprised to learn that not only does Muslim heritage still survive in the country, but so too do sizeable Muslim communities. Tharik revitalises the existence of these monuments with his mastery writing - ladened with sincerety, warmth and real connection.

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