Thursday, September 11, 2008

What I've Learned

I don't know who will even read this blog, as it has been over a month since I have updated, and three weeks since I have returned from Egypt. But this blog has seen me through so much in the past year, and I like to think that it has brought some new information to everyone interested in life in Egypt, and the greater Middle East. The reason I came to Egypt was because I was searching for knowledge, not just on women's leadership, but for better knowledge on this part of the world which is so terribly misunderstand, or simply not understood at all. There is an Arabic proverb which states,

"One should seek knowledge, not invite it."

As fantastic as it would be for some of these Egyptian men and women to come to the United States blow some minds and shatter stereotypes, that's not the way things work. We as Americans have a duty to learn about the people and the region that we feel we are entitled to guide, invade, and order around. Maybe if we knew more about them, we would realize that maybe we don't really know what we are talking about.

So I went to Egypt, and tried to listen and learn. But I don't think that my duty ends there. Because not every American has an opportunity to go to Egypt on a Fulbright, and not every American has the ability to speak Arabic. So I talk to Americans, and answer their questions as best as I can on Egypt and the issues in the Middle East. But you don't have to take my word for it, as there are a number of excellent books on the subjects. So for anyone who is interested, I have compiled a list of a few books which range from novel to textbook, all of which will give the reader a little more insight on the hottest topics that surround the Middle East. The list isn't exhaustive of course, just a few books that I have found to be helpful, and that you might as well.

On Terrorism and Jihad

"The Far Enemy: Why Jihad went Global"- Fawaz Gerges (on al-Qaeda)

"Jihad in Islamic History" -Michael Bonner (Medieval History)

"The Crusades: An Islamic Perspective" - Carole Hillenbrand

*You may think its odd, but you will be surprised how much the Crusades come up, so we can't afford to forget about that bloodthirsty part of western history.

On Israel/Palestine
"The Lemon Tree" - Sandy Tolan (novel which balances the two sides)

"History of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict" - Mark Tessler (textbook but a must)

"Peace and its Discontents" - Edward Said (the peace process is never that easy"


"Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time" -Karen Armstrong (understanding Islam)

"Orientalism" -Edward Said (pretty much the bible for Near East students)

"Pity the Nation" -Robert Fisk (On Lebanese Civil war by journalist who was there)

If you have the time, see what you think. There are other authors, blogs, and journalists out there. Just remember that everyone may claim to be an expert, but the reality is, there are very few out there. Today is 9/11, and one thing we have learned from the murderous attacks and the confusion that followed is that when it comes to the Middle East and Islam, we really don't know anything. We need to read, listen and learn. Thanks for reading my blog, it has been my pleasure and honor to share what I learn with you. Remember, knowledge isn't like cake, you can share it and eat it too :)


KM said...

Say it ain't so! You'll continue blogging of course?

ahmedthatsit said...

hi there from egypt,

I think alot of ppl who r following ur blog don't want u to treat this post as the final.I suggest u to make this post as a thin line for "Before & After Egypt" or maybe Egypt would only be the start for new adventures. We all, ur silent fans, enjoyed very much. Also Egypt was delighted to have u here and ur always more than welcome here in Egypt.

meghan said...

pauline, a month after or not, i've been waiting for a new post. thanks for sharing all of your moments and making me think and smile - sometimes at the same time! shukran!!

brylun said...

I'm a UM Law grad and I'm taking my 22-year old daughter to Africa for the month of November. Your ideas were very helpful in planning our agenda. Keep writing - you do it well! Go Blue!

Best wishes,