Alaa al-Aswany Interview on Here on Earth

Here on Earth: Radio Without Borders interviewed Alaa al-Aswany, also known as the Sinbad of literature, yesterday.

There aren’t a lot of famous writers who are also dentists. Alaa al Aswany is Egypt’s most famous living writer who happens to also work as a dentist by day in Cairo. He says being a dentist enables his writing: his patients open up to him, confess their troubles and reveal their inner lives. Al Aswany’s first novel, The Yacoubian Building, published in 2002, overnight became the bestselling novel in the Arab world, and was subsequently made into Egypt’s highest grossing film ever.

The only Arab-language novel to have created greater buzz and sell more copies is his second novel, Chicago, which has just been published in the US. Set on the campus of the University of Illinois Medical Center where he himself trained as a dentist, Chicago explores the interweaving lives of a group of Egyptian students and professors trying to find their bearings in post 9/11 America.

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The Jewel of Medina: A National Security Threat?

The controversy over The Jewel of Medina, a novel about Muhammad’s youngest wife, Aisha, has taken many forms. Recently, in this press release, Random House announced its decision not to publish the book because of the threat it poses to the company, author Sherry Jones, and more broadly, national security. An excerpt of the novel is available on NPR’s website and a simple Google search will reveal how many people are covering the controversy in the media and contributing original ideas about it, despite the fact that so far the book has not been released in English yet.

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In fact, the book has only been officially published in Serbia. Soon after it was released, however, it was removed from shelves and accused of being offensive to Muslims. The debate over free speech is a hot-button issue in the media today. Some think that The Jewel of Medina is a scandal on par with the Danish cartoons of 2005 and The Satanic Verses published in 1988. Even with serious backlash, the book has developed a following and advocates for its release are keeping a level-head despite threats of violence. Pirated copies and unofficial translations of the book led to its re-release in Serbia. Also, The Jewel of Medina is scheduled for official release in England later this month.

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Eboo Patel and The Interfaith Generation

Interfaith Youth Core (Flickr)Writer, scholar, and youth leader Eboo Patel is executive director of the Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core and writes a blog for The Washington Post. Patel’s ongoing work with youth and study of religious divisions is rooted in his own struggle choosing between Indian, Muslim, and American identities and faith in a common “dream of pluralism.” In Acts of Faith, he defines pluralism as

a form of proactive cooperation that affirms the identity of the constituent communities while emphasizing that the wellbeing of each and all depends on the health of the whole. It is the belief that the common good is best served when each community has a chance to make its unique contribution.

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Mark LeVine and Heavy Metal Islam: The Fight Over What Islam Means

Scholar and professional musician Mark LeVine traveled across the Middle East playing with and studying heavy metal bands in the area after the September 11 attacks in 2001. He was surprised by what he found.

That the possibility of a Muslim heavy-metal scene came as a total surprise to me only underscored how much I still had to learn about Morocco, and the Muslim world more broadly, even after a dozen years studying, traveling, and living in it. If there could be such a thing as a Heavy Metal Islam, I thought, then perhaps the future was far brighter than most observers of the Muslim world imagined less than a year after September 11, 2001 (Source).

Mark with Cafe Mira and Hassan Hakmoun (Flickr)
Mark with Cafe Mira and Hassan Hakmoun (Flickr)

Read more after the break…

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Here on Earth to host Moustafa Bayoumi Monday

Moustafa BayoumiHere on Earth: Radio Without Borders will have Moustafa Bayoumi on their show Monday to talk about Arab American youth in a post-9/11 world. He is professor of English at Brooklyn Collage and co-author of How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America The book features personal stories from the American Muslim community. Hear more about the book and stories from Arab American youth. Listen to past interviews with Bayoumi on Here on Earth’s archive’s page.

Comment on Muslim American perspectives post-9/11 before the show airs.

Leave a comment or email blogislam@insideislam.webhosting.cals.wisc.edu with your thoughts.

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