There are two kinds of books that i read till now. One is fiction or non-fiction which depicts real life situations and characters or fantasy characters which entertain you throughout either by story line or gripping narration. Example being 'Wise and otherwise' by Sudha Murthy, Chetan Bhagat's books etc., another kind is one which makes you learn something new while reading it. Author might have done thorough research before writing these kinds of books and these books enlighten us with many unknown facts and make us form a complete new perspective on the topic discussed. Example being Davinci code by Dan Brown, some Sidney sheldon novels, Irving Wallace novels etc., this current book The Monk, the Moor and Moses Ben Jalloun is of the second kind mentioned above.
I studied to some extent about Hindu religion and Christianity, but didn't get the opportunity to learn about Islam religion. In 'The story of my experiments with truth' by Mahatma Gandhi, Gandhi mentions that we need to read books and epics on different religions to understand different religions to be able to comment on any religion. I too feel the same. We should form an opinion on any religion only when we have done a thorough research on it. This book is about the glory of islamic civilization, how it flourished and how ideas on different fields like astronomy, biology, geography etc., passed on to western countries from Arabs.
The plot/ story line:
There are 2 stories running in parallel in this book. One is from present period where a group of students studying in an American university find an old manuscript about the translations made from Arabic to latin. They research on the topics mentioned in manuscripts, try to understand and discuss on great moors or scholars who contributed to different fields like philosophy, astronomy, politics, poetry etc., when Latin America is still in nascent stages of development. They call their meetings as ‘House of wisdom’. Another story from past (AD 1010) is about an Iranian woman ‘Rehana’ , her life, her teacher and scholar ‘Abu Rehan’ and her quest to learn.
Storyline of Rehana, research of Abu Rehan, characterization of Rehana and her husband Dilwar khan is nice to read. But, I cannot believe that an Iranian woman was given that much independence at home to learn from her teacher and decide on her own marriage in those old days like AD1010.
Novel seems to be in bits and pieces. It is very difficult to correlate the facts and understand. It seems like we are dumped with hell lot of information or facts which doesn’t seem to be true sometimes.
Book is not interesting going forward, as all chapters are alike and story narration is not very impressive.
A serious read and I rate it 3/5.
(Mahathi Ramya is a software tester by profession, but an artist by nature. She loves travelling, reading books, blogging, dancing, singing and painting.You can check her book reviews, travel experiences and other ramblings on her blog www.fantastic-feathers.