Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Resources on Muslims and the Qur'an

Hey all! A few of us have mentioned that while we're reading our current book A Deadly Misunderstanding, we'd like to get a little more background information on Islam. Several resources have been mentioned in our discussions - Salafia's and Schroeder's, I'm referring to you! - so please comment away on this post with alternative resources people can check out - books, movies, podcasts - all are welcome!


Sarah said...

Lame but so helpful: The Koran for Dummies.

Also, we got a DVD from our library called "The Secrets of the Koran" that was produced by the History Channel. It also included the A&E Biography on Muhammed. Both were really insightful!

Ron said...

We also enjoyed From Beirut to Jerusalem by Thomas Friedman. It's a thick read, but it goes quickly because it's very compelling.

Arizona Bam said...

I'm a film lover, m'self. With regard to the Middle East, Islamic vs. Arab culture, Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and the underlying politics of it all, I've certainly had my worldview expanded by the following films (Netflix descriptions in quotes):

- Paradise Now - "Hany Abu-Assad's disturbing yet moving tale finds two men at a critical juncture in their lives. They've been drafted as suicide bombers in an upcoming assignment in Tel Aviv. Granted a night to spend with their families, they go home but are unable to say goodbye for fear of tipping their hand. But perhaps it isn't time for farewells yet as the two become separated during the mission and must decide on their own whether to continue or bail out."

- Death In Gaza - "Documentarians James Miller and Saira Shah planned to produce an in-depth look at the culture of martyrdom and hate pervading the Middle East. In 2003, they chronicled the lives of three Palestinian adolescents growing up in war-torn Gaza. Miller and Shah also wanted to show the Israeli side of the dispute, but during filming, Miller fell victim to the conflict when Israeli forces killed him. This Home Box Office special relates the tragic story."

- Gaza Strip - "The embattled Gaza Strip is the setting for this stirring documentary from American filmmaker James Longley. Initially intending his film to be a straightforward look at the Palestinian intifada, Longley headed there in January 2001 for what he thought would be two short weeks. Instead, he stayed for three months, logging over 75 hours of film that tracked a number of momentous occasions, including the election of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon."

- Munich - "In this thriller based on actual events, Palestinian terrorists hold hostage and ultimately kill a group of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics. In the tragic aftermath of the infamous murders, a Mossad agent (Eric Bana) tracks down the assassins. Ciaran Hinds and Geoffrey Rush co-star in this film directed by Steven Spielberg and written by Tony Kushner (award-winning playwright of 'Angels in America')."

- Syriana - "George Clooney (who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar and Golden Globe for his role) plays CIA operative Bob Barnes in this political thriller by Stephen Gaghan. America is at the beck and call of the Middle East when it comes to the oil industry, and all its players -- Washington, sheiks, oil companies, field workers -- intersect with each other."

- A Mighty Heart - "While in Pakistan researching a story on shoe bomber Richard Reid in 2002, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl (Dan Futterman) is suddenly kidnapped. His pregnant wife, Mariane (Angelina Jolie), displays great courage as she desperately tries to find her husband and rise above the bitterness and hatred that surrounds her. Versatile director Michael Winterbottom directs this poignant adaptation of Mariane Pearl's real-life memoir."
(I wrote a bit about this one on my blog back a couple years ago - Pray For Peace.)

- Iraq in Fragments - "Honored with an Oscar nod, director James Longley's striking portrait of a nation divided presents a collage of images and commentary by ordinary Iraqi citizens coping with the effects of war, political unrest, religious feuds and an unclear future. The film moves beyond the abstract, powerfully capturing the indelible humanity of those living in a battle-scarred country that finds itself defined by conflict."

Obviously, these are films... subjective views are often presented through artistic means in this medium. I think these are all to be perceived through our own "information filter," if you will, but I gleaned important perspectives from each one of these movies. (Also, be warned, very few of these are appropriate for kids younger than 18, imho).

What else have you all seen that you'd recommend?

Ron said...

Sheesh Adam, nice work!

I'll add to your list with Persepolis. Marjane (voiced by Chiara Mastroianni) just wants to be an ordinary kid, but that isn't easy in 1978 Iran. This profound animated film follows Marjane's childhood in a repressive society, her adolescence in France and her return to Tehran as an adult. Based on Marjane Satrapi's autobiographical graphic novel, this Oscar nominee for Best Animated Feature Film also features the vocal talents of Catherine Deneuve and Simon Abkarian.

Sarah and I loved this one. But, make sure you go into the languages menu of the DVD and change it to English at the beginning instead of watching 3/4 of the movie in French w/ English subtitles like we did before realizing the back of the DVD said the English version was included also.

Ahmadinejad denounced this film, so you know it must be good.

Christian Salafia said...

Let's see...what do I have in my library....

Well, to copycat Sarah, I started with Islam for Dummies. I really think the "for dummies" books have alot of good,basic information as a jumping off point.

Then, we get a little headier...

A History of God - Karen Armstrong

Islam - Caesar E. Farah, PhD

A History of the Arab Peoples - Albert Hourani

...then we can interject a little politics....

The Persian Puzzle - Kenneth Pollack. A good primer on US-Iranian relations.

Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War on America - Yossef Bodanski

If anyone wants to borrow one or more of these (I think my uncle might still have Islam for Dummies), just let me know.