on 2 May 2005
Hijra in Islam means leaving a non-Muslim land and taking sanctuary in a Muslim one. Hijra is what Hilda Reilly's book is about: it focuses upon the stories of five people from the west who have converted to Islam and taken refuge in the Muslim society of Sudan. It is also an account of her own experiences of living in that country. This is a marvellous book for anyone seeking a better understanding of Islam itself, as well as the phenomenon of conversion. It is written in a very easy and engaging style, yet presents profound insights. It is a 'must' for anyone travelling to Sudan, as well as for anyone concerned about the religious conflicts which underlie so many of our global problems.
All the immediate questions which spring to the minds of those of us who have a superficial impression of Islam are dealt with here. Reilly places them before her interviewees, who respond in their own words. The author does not interpose her own views between them and the readers but leaves the latter to make up their own minds. At the same time, her obvious humanity comes through in every page. This is also apparent when she deals with human rights questions in Sudan: presented through vignettes drawn from her own experiences and relationships, these are all the more powerful for being understated. We are not treated anywhere in this book to righteous indignation, but that does not mean that moral issues are being evaded. A powerful example of sympathy combined with dispassion.
on 21 October 2015
A wonderful book for anyone interested in the phenomenon of Islam, and its success throughout the world. But it's more than that; it's a chronicle of people's lives and the struggle they have gone through to end up as Muslims in the Sudan - and of their continuing struggle to live among other Muslims in an urban, but very poor environment.
The premis of the book sounds rather daunting, but it the story rattles along with a few pauses to sketch in the history and customs, and details the practices. I found it absolutely fascinating - all those things you always wanted to know, but never asked about. Tribal markings - female circumcision - family life - teenage brides - multiple wives - education - Sharia Law...... And it's all written so lightly and clearly that it's easy to absorb. The author also explains so clearly about the different elements - Sufis, Shias, Sunnis etc, and the conflicts between the different factions.
The book is largely concerned with the people who have left the Western World for the World of Islam, and we get to understand the attractions, but through following their lives, the reader gets to experience their efforts to reach an Islamic community and the struggle of daily life once they are there.
I highly recommend it to any layman wanting to glimpse the realities of the Muslim World.