Ramadan Reading Challenge 2015 – Midterm Report

Today is day 20 of Ramadan. We have to fast 29 days (or 30)  which means I have 10 days to go.

A big thanks to all the people reading alongside me, even though you have not officially enter the challenge . I thank you for the support. You are awesome!

As of Today, I have read 3 books and 2 halfs, so to speak.Two of my books have not yet reached me. While waiting anxiously for the rest of my books, I will update my list and hope for the best.



Francophone & Anglophone authors/books  will be mixed. No Arabic, unfortunately my arabic is not that strong!

Genre: Fiction and non-fiction

All arab countries including the gulf countries are in scope

To put things in context, here is a map of Northern Africa


And a map of the gulf countries:


Here is my list!


1) Muslim Women a Biographical Dictionary by  Aisha Abdurrahman Bewley (Currently Reading)

When I bought this book, I did not really expect it to be a “true dictionary” as it is said in the title. However, I must admit that it was the only coherent form that  could have been used to listed so many amazing women. So, It is a dictionary and names are arranged by alphabetical order from A to Z. I am currently reading the H section . I enjoy going through the various entries. Not only are they very inspiring, but the author provided a lot useful details such as their connections to the companions or to the prophet (PSL) himself, their qualifications or contributions to Islam. Women truly enjoy very prominent position in the early days of himself till quite recently .

My only complaint so far is in the fact that not many african women are listed. I found a few egyptian entry here and there, but only 1 or 2 from subsaharan Africa. I am disappointed by this fact. All is not lost, I still have as much as half of the book to go, i might be surprised.


Islam has always provided an incredibly flexible environment in which women may flourish and achieve their true potential. Looking back to the time of the Prophet, may Allah (swt) bless him and grant him peace, women were extremely active in all areas of life. The negative stereotype of the role of Muslim women, which is often trumpeted in the media, stems from ignorance of the reality of the position of women in Islam. This dictionary is a comprehensive reference source of women throughout Islamic history from the first century A.H. to roughly the middle of the thirteenth century A.H.

2) The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History by Ibn Khaldûn(Author), Franz Rosenthal (Translator) (Not yet in my library)

download (1)

The Muqaddimah, often translated as “Introduction” or “Prolegomenon,” is the most important Islamic history of the premodern world. Written by the great fourteenth-century Arab scholar Ibn Khaldûn (d. 1406), this monumental work established the foundations of several fields of knowledge, including the philosophy of history, sociology, ethnography, and economics. The first complete English translation, by the eminent Islamicist and interpreter of Arabic literature Franz Rosenthal, was published in three volumes in 1958 as part of the Bollingen Series and received immediate acclaim in the United States and abroad. A one-volume abridged version of Rosenthal’s masterful translation first appeared in 1969.


 3) Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest by Martin Lings(Author) (Currently Reading)

Excellent book so far. I am on page 50 and I can say with absolute confidence that this is the best biography on the Prophet I have ever read.

download (2)

Martin Lings’ biography of Muhammad is an internationally acclaimed, comprehensive, and authoritative account of the life of the prophet. Based on the sira, the eighth- and ninth-century Arabic biographies that recount numerous events in the prophet’s life, it contains original English translations of many important passages that reveal the words of men and women who heard Muhammad speak and witnessed the events of his life.

4) Al-Muhaddithat: The Women Scholars in Islam by Mohammad Akram Nadwi (Author)  (Not yet in my library)

download (4)

This book is an adaptation in English of the prefatory volume of a 40-volume biographical dictionary (in Arabic) of women scholars of the Prophet s hadith. Learned women enjoyed high public standing and authority in the formative years of Islam. For centuries thereafter, women travelled intensively for religious knowledge and routinely attended the most prestigious mosques and madrasas across the Islamic world. Typical documents (like class registers and ijazahs from women authorizing men to teach) and the glowing testimonies about their women teachers from the most revered ulema are cited in detail. An overview chapter, with accompanying maps, traces the spread of centres of hadith learning for women, and their eventual decline. The information summarized here is essential to a balanced appreciation of the role of women in Islamic society.


1) Anatomy of a Disappearance by Hisham Matar (READ)

This is my second time reading Hisham Matar. I have read his “In the country of men” last year. I am happy to report that I was not disappoint. The story itself is quite sad, however the novel is a huge page-turner. Nuri the protagonist grows up with the reader and become a very mysterious young man just like his father. I am a very big fan of his style of writing – very simple and straight to the point. The story gets quite emotional at one point. A great read!


Nuri is a young boy when his mother dies. It seems that nothing will fill the emptiness her death leaves behind in the Cairo apartment he shares with his father–until they meet Mona, sitting in her yellow swimsuit by the pool of the Magda Marina hotel. As soon as Nuri sees Mona, the rest of the world vanishes. But it is Nuri’s father with whom Mona falls in love and whom she eventually marries. Their happiness consumes Nuri to the point where he wishes his father would disappear. Nuri will, however, soon regret what he’s wished for. When his father, a dissident in exile from his homeland, is abducted under mysterious circumstances, the world that Nuri and his stepmother share is shattered. And soon they begin to realize how little they knew about the man they both loved. Anatomy of a Disappearance is written with all the emotional precision and intimacy that have won Hisham Matar tremendous international recognition. In a voice that is delicately wrought and beautifully tender, he asks: When a loved one disappears, how does their absence shape the lives of those who are left?

2) The African Equation by Yasmina Khadra (READ)

Yasmina Khadra is very popular, but for once it is a well deserved hype. What a fantastic and heartwrenching novel. Africa through the eyes of two white people, both of them capture by pirates and forced to go through the same hardships  undergo by locals during conflicts. Honestly, if you haven’t read this book. You should today.


A new masterpiece from the author of “The Swallows of Kabul.” Frankfurt MD Kurt Krausmann is devastated by his wife’s suicide. Unable to make sense of what happened, Kurt agrees to join his friend Hans on a humanitarian mission to the Comoros. But, sailing down the Red Sea, their boat is boarded by Somali pirates and the men are taken hostage. The arduous journey to the pirates’ desert hideout is only the beginning of Kurt’s odyssey. He endures imprisonment and brutality at the hands of captors whose failings are all too human. As the situation deteriorates, it is fellow prisoner, Bruno, a long-time resident in Africa, who shows Kurt another side to the wounded yet defiant continent he loves. A giant of francophone writing, Algerian author Yasmina Khadra takes current events as a starting point to explore opposing views and myths of Africa and the West, ultimately delivering a powerful message of friendship, resilience, and redemption. Yasmina Khadra is the pen name of Mohammed Moulessehoul, a former Algerian army officer and now director of the Algerian Cultural Center in Paris. In November 2013, he announced his candidacy for the presidency of Algeria.

3) Season of Migration to the North by Tayeb Salih (READ)

I am still thinking about this book. I guess you will have to wait for my review. This book was very troubling for me.


After many years of study in Europe, the young narrator of Season of Migration to the North returns to his village along the Nile in the Sudan, eager to make a contribution to the new postcolonial life of his country. Back home, he discovers a stranger among the familiar faces of childhood—the enigmatic Mustafa Sa’eed. Mustafa takes the young man into his confidence, telling him the story of his own years in London in the early part of the twentieth century, of his brilliant career as an economist, and of the series of fraught and deadly relationships with European women that led to a terrible public reckoning and his return to his native land. But what is the meaning of Mustafa’s shocking confession? Mustafa disappears without explanation, leaving the young man —whom he has asked to look after his wife—in an unsettled and violent no-man’s-land between Europe and Africa, tradition and innovation, holiness and defilement, and man and woman, from which no one will escape unaltered or unharmed. One of the pinnacles of modern Arabic literature, Season of Migration to the North is a work of scorching honesty and incandescent lyricism.

PLease do join me during this holy month. Starting date is June 17 2015. 

There are 10 days to go, you can still join me.

Ramadan Mubarak and Happy reading!

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