Monday, June 21, 2010

Unimagined - June Book club pick

June is not over but I think there was only one reader this month and she has finished reading this book and I as well so let's start the discussion.

What did you think about his time in grade school, in high school and in university?

What did you think about his job choice?

What was your impression of his family and upbringing?

How would you compare his islamic knowledge to the author of The Faith Club?

What did you think about his descriptions of his travels and his description of his time in Scotland?

These are just some ideas that came to mind.


  1. What did you think about his time in grade school, in high school and in university?
    I loved the grade school experiences, especially his thoughts about Christianity during religion class and the hymns they had to sing---relief when he figures out Isa and Mariam are in Islam too, understanding Christianity better than his class mates…. I hated the racism and bullying. Ugh! Kids, and teachers can be so cruel. Wish my memory was better.

    What did you think about his job choice?
    Dull. I can’t believe he made it through his degree (bio-chem, right?) for his parent’s expectations. Wow. I would not do that. All that science and he ends up an auditor. Now he writes---so what happens next? I was really disappointed (frustrated) that the book pretty much ends with his first job. No adventures, no new experiences. No wrapping up of all those sexual desires—I mean by finding love or getting married or meeting someone (not to hear of his sexual exploits). If you read his blog he still has the same fascination with beautiful women.

  2. What was your impression of his family and upbringing?
    Well, I guess they did better than Ranya’s (faith club) Parents. Even if the Masjid school he went to was awful, he did learn the basics, and identified as Muslim. I am glad they ended up doing well. As I mention on my blog---what kept them in England with the bed-sits, and racism? I would have liked to know more about his family. He did not write much about them. Maybe out of respect.

    How would you compare his islamic knowledge to the author of The Faith Club?
    Well, since he admits not praying all the time and not fasting much, I would say he is in a similar place, finding what he is and does acceptable. His version of Islam is very easy, not that Islam should be hard or somber---but it is my understanding that you are supposed to fulfill your obligations. Again, I suppose this is normal to have people of all levels of faiths, but this is book number two, no fifth non-fiction, that I have read where weakly practicing Muslims are promoting their faith and showing distaste for anything conservative. In theory, I’d at least like a hat tip towards Muslim who strive to practice instead of jumping on the far end of the spectrum and wahabi bashing. I do agree with the author that we do need to focus on compassion, charity, and tolerance instead of hating each other for our differences or levels of practice.

    What did you think about his descriptions of his travels and his description?
    Well, I loved how he felt and thought about Scotland. If he were a woman there would be more of this in the book I suppose, or if he continued his story into the rest of his life, maybe we would get to hear more wonderful things that move him. Where else did he go beside Paksitan and US, no that I remember much.Please refresh my memory.his time in Scotland?

  3. You can follow up with watching the film East is East, for memorable scenes, including kids hiding from the masjid van. Or any books or films by Hanif Kureishi a British of Pakistani and English heritage. His fictionalized accounts also deal a lot with growing up Paki in England, bi-racial experience, religion and cultural differences. Another good British book dealing with the two cultures (well Bangladeshi) is Zadie Smith's White Teeth. Of all I have read Imran Ahmad's is the most innocuous and positive of them all. (no anger?)

  4. Thank you for reading my book!

    It's about the inner, intellectual and spiritual journey of the narrator, not about the soap opera of family life, otherwise it would not move so briskly.

    Clearly, the journey describes moving from lukewarm Islam to sincere Islam.

    This book ends at age 25. The Epilogue is just a glimpse into the future and concludes the thread about the dream car (clearly a metaphor about 'beautiful women').

    The journey isn't over and continues today.

    There are at least two sequels -- more if I don't get 'recalled' soon.

    Peace and Best Wishes,


    PS: The blogs are supposed to be fun to read. 'Beautiful women' and me works well for humour.

  5. Asalaamu Alaikum

    Thanks for the comments UmmMalaak. And thanks for joining me in my book club!

    Masha Allah Imran, an actual author has come to my humble little blog :) Are you currently writing the sequels? You did kind of leave the reader in a jilt. I haven't been to your blog, didn't even know it existed and I will hold out until I've written what I think about the book.
    As for reading your book, you are welcome. If there are sequels I'll pick those up too and maybe add them to the book club.

  6. Now to answer my own questions.

    School: I was very upset by how he was treated in school and how no one seemed to be doing anything about it. I also kept asking myself where are his parents? I didn't like how he kept hiding the fact that he was muslim so he could blend in (of course he didn't want to get beat up etc) but once again where was his family and community to give him that sense of muslim pride? Seems like his parents couldn't pass on what they didn't have themselves.

    In University he let that woman use him for her good grades and I thought that is so classic; white girl uses brown boy for good grades. I've seen it with my own eyes. Why do these immigrants hold out hope for these women. They are scoundrels. Why not choose a genuine women?

    His job choice: I wish he would have went with his artsy side and bucked the trend of the perfect proper career that guarantees high income and status. However he did write this book so kudos for that.

    His family and upbringing: I was disappointed that the parents seemed to be choosing dunia over akhirah. Why didn't they even bother to teach their son that muslims don't eat pork? Why didn't they go to the school to make sure their son was doing ok? Why didn't they teach him islam properly? I think like most pakistanis they are not really well versed in Islam except the basics. I always wondered too why Pakistanis would leave their good lives to come over here and get treated like this as well as their kids. I found out from a friend that it goes like this. They hate the bribery and corruption in Pakistan so they decide to leave based on stories of the west being the land of milk and honey. They come over , it sucks but they have pride and won't let anyone back home know how they are not succeeding so they drive a cab and tell everyone back home that they actually own the cab company. (this is classic in Toronto with doctors driving cabs). So the next poor fool jumps on the next plane out and the cycle continues.

    His islamic knowledge: whereas the faith club author identifies so heavily with christianity I find most pakistanis identify with hinduism. For example a pakistani would rather have a pakistani/indian hindu friend than a white convert friend because they share the same culture. Arabs meanwhile have been so exposed to christianity through colonialism that they are highly confused. I wonder with the wahabi bashing if its par for the course with publishers ie we won't publish your book unless you criticize your own religion. Why don't Pakistanis read the quran in their own language as well as the tafseer. If they did they would stop saying that things like the hijab is an Arab cultural thing. In the mosque there was a guy complaining about how the Pakistani women were dressed and all dolled up. Yes everyone mentions this. The mosque is a place to pray not a pick up joint. Some women have so much perfume on I could gag! Its time that most pakistanis learned how to really practice islam. Yes you can wear colours but no to the make up and perfume and hair showing. If there are only women then that's different but if you have to pass by men then put on a jilbab.

    His travels: I was impressed when he talked about Toronto having the bluest of skies. I love Toronto and live 3 hours away from it. I wish I could live there. As for Scotland I loved his description, makes me want to go there. Some of my ancestors are from Scotland and this made me feel connected to them.

    Finally I would like to mention that my son-in-law is Pakistani and this helped me to understand how Pakistanis are brought up and how they experience life in the west. My son-in-law came to America when he was 6 and to Canada as a teen. Alhumdullilah he studied up on true islam and brought his family along with him for the ride. I'm proud to call him my son-in-law. I hope insha Allah the author came to the same epiphany later in his life.

  7. OMG I am Mortified you showed up here Imran!
    Asalaamu alaikum. : )
    Yes We need sequels. What does Imran the James Bond do next? Is it possible to write a respectful memoir of your parent's experience of the time, or at least a short piece? We are very curious.
    I am not offended by "beautiful women", it just seemed classically "Imran" since you gave us a glimpse of your youth.

    I too have experience with Pakistanis, my lovely neighbors and my ex. A very interesting culture, sometimes baffling. I had to fact check my Islam every time I visited my neighbors who "Corrected" me and made me feel doubt over what I learned. I could do a whole rant, but I love my neighbors.
    It is interesting how many ways there are to view Islam.