Term Paper: Islam Muslims

Pages: 4 (1435 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  Topic: History - Israel  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … Baghdad Without a Map and Other Misadventures in Arabia" by Tony Horwitz, and "Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women" by Geraldine Brooks. Specifically, it will critically review the books and tie them into the modern world's view of the Middle East. These two books indicate the great gap between eastern and western culture and beliefs. Reading these books opens the eyes to the many differences between the western world and the Arab world, but more than that, these books open the readers' eyes to things that would never happen in American society. The Middle East often suffers in the eyes of the world, and after reading these books, it is easy to see why.

Women are viewed differently in the two books, and even more differently here in the west. In Horwitz' book, he makes little mention of the women because the people he deals with do not mention them at all. He sees few women and most of the ones he sees are covered in traditional dress from head to toe. Most of the encounters he has are with men because they do the business and run the countries. When his wife has to wear a chador, he writes, "Geraldine, have endured months of hoots and propositions from Arab males, welcomed her sexless disguise. I found it creepy. With one flick of the wrist, she'd transformed herself from the object of my desire into a forbidding black phantom, a foot soldier of the Islamic Republic" (Horwitz 235). He acknowledges how women are treated by a male-dominated society, but Brooks makes it much more clearly in the opening sentences of her book, when a hotel clerk refuses to rent her a room because she is traveling alone. She writes, "No,' he said. 'You don't understand. I can't give you a room. it's against the law for women'" (Brooks 1). In fact, she has to go to a police station to gain a permit to stay in a hotel, and this is in Saudi Arabia, one of the more "modernized" countries in the Middle East. Women do not play as big a role in Horwitz' work not because he ignores them, but because, as a western man, he rarely encounters them. On the other hand, the women in Brooks' work are real Arabic women who have little say in their lives or what goes on throughout their countries.

Brooks explains the origins of Islamic views on women, and most of it comes directly from the Prophet Mohammed. She maintains he had "trouble" with his many wives, and so had a visit from God telling him to seclude them, and the rest is history (Brooks 4). Thus, the status of women in the Arab world stems directly from Mohammed's inability to control his own wives, and women still suffer today. Brooks' work deals directly with the women and their experience, and so it is very differently from Horwitz' work. Reading the two gives a more balanced look at men and women in the Arab world, but still underscores how vastly different Middle Eastern culture is from western culture. Many modern women do rise to positions of power in the government and in business, but for the most part, Arab women still live secluded lives away from their own male family members and the outside world, and that is extremely foreign to most western nations.

Islam is used illegitimately in the modern Middle East as a way to justify behavior and mold people into certain behaviors. For example, in Yemen, most of the people are addicted to chewing qat, a plant that seems to have narcotic properties, and the Islamic scholars do not approve, but do not ban the substance, and yet they ban alcohol. They bend the religion to meet their own needs, and they use it to justify acts of terrorism and aggression against people and other countries.

It does not seem that Islam can truly coexist with the modern world because it has modernized very little and so is so far behind the times it may never catch up. The cities and towns of the Middle East live in a kind of limbo, where modern conveniences such as cars mingle with donkeys, camels, and filth. The Arab world is really living… [END OF PREVIEW]

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