I had picked up From My Sisters’ Lips by Na’ima B. Robert from the Book Exchange Corner on my last library visit without even knowing what it is about. (Except that it is “an extremely thought-provoking book that challenges Western preconceptions of Islamic women” as acclaimed on the cover.)
When I started reading this book yesterday, I still did not know what to expect. I read it as slowly as I could (since I would soon run out of books to read) but it is so informative and insightful that I found I couldn’t really slow down the pace.
The author describes not only her own experience of being a revert (a convert to becoming a Muslim) but also includes the experiences of other women (whom she refers to as sisters).
The author had abandoned her western lifestyle and embraced Islam six years before writing the book. She describes why she (and a community of women reverts) chose to live behind the veil. There are personal accounts on issues Muslim women face in today’s world, from marriage, submission, divorce, bereavement, motherhood, stereotypes, submission to self-image.
This book offers a different and fresh perspective on what it means to be a Muslim. It is enlightening and thought-provoking. What has struck me most is that Islam is not just a religion; it is a way of life, for there are clear instructions (and the logic and reason behind them) on how to live a good Islamic life.
Islam also believes that life in this world is fleeting and transitory, so we should not grow too attached to this world as our eternal life would be in the Hereafter. I am pretty sure there are several other religions with the same philosophy.
Two quotes from the book that I find meaningful are: “Sometimes it takes extra guts to be who you want to be and do what you want to do, regardless of what people and you expect” and “When you find the truth, the truth isn’t always going to be what you like“.
This got me thinking: if I had come across something like this book over four decades ago, I might have chosen to read Philosophy as my major at the University. Life might have turned out very differently for me.