This volume of Isabelle Eberhardt's original Dans L'ombre Chaude de Islam "In the Warm Shadow of Islam" was penned in 1904. As a big Eberhardt fan I still enjoyed reading this slim 1993 edition although it's lamely billed "In the Shadow of Islam". Translated by Sharon Bangert, the omission of this single word from the title, "Warm", quite neatly reverses its meaning. Thus the translator or publishers (Peter Owen Publishers) chose to slyly sabotage Eberhardt's empathic sympathetic message about her chosen faith Sufism/Islam with a beckoning yet ominous tang. I suppose her original title, 'In the Warm Shadow of Islam', (emphasis mine) was too long and Islam-friendly for today's market?
Thus, the publisher's choice perpetrates the ever popular anti-Islamic bent. That said, it's the brilliance of Eberhart's work that manages to shine through even a biased translation.
Without ado, let me provide some of my favorite quotes from In the Shadow of Islam:
"To the extent that I feel myself saturated by ancient, unshaken Islam, which here seems to be the very breathing of the earth...And I understand that one could end one's days in the peace and silence of some southern zawiya, end in ecstasy, free of yearnings, confronting only radiant horizons. " pg 114
"I have jotted these reflections in the margin of a letter...Having written them, I relapse into my feeling of exile, wishing to bury myself even deeper in this hostile south, without any desire for the Paris I have known, where the newspaper's lip-service to feminism was even more repugnant to me than the Parisian coquettes.
I have said nothing in my response worth reading. Why bother? One day paths separate, destinies crystallize. And this is so much more than having made a few friends. When they are good enough to invite us to share their foreign happiness, let's show them what's possible to a true fraternity of minds.
Let's regret nothing, since our happiness and theirs will consist in letting ourselves go one day, into mysterious currents which will carry our souls adrift towards impossible shores. Then we'll enjoy the intoxication of decadence and shipwreck; and wandering over the immense beaches of the night, we'll feel within us the seeds of suffering begin to germinate." pg 70
"...forgetting the principals of tolerance propounded by Islam at its purest..." pg 49
It strikes me that prayer, and dreams, too, should never end." pg 60-61
Please enjoy this timeless piece of writing...still relevant and convincing.