The Language of Tears

Author: Bridget Blomfield

Language of Tears

Publisher: White Cloud Press

Assigned Reading Age: Ages 16 +

Subjects: Shiism, Women, Cultures (Iran, Iraq, Pakistan/India)

The book is about an American Academic who chooses to complete her PhD thesis on Shia Women. She embeds herself into the lives of the Iranian, Iraqi and Pakistani communities in Southern California. In the process, she learns to appreciate the rituals and beliefs of Shia Women and the strength of their conviction.

The most striking feature of Blomfield’s writing is her sincerity. She narrates intimate details of her conversations with Shia Women, young and old alike. In doing so, she makes the reader feel that they can relate to the joys and challenges faced by these women. Her ability to empathise and appreciate the other is a needed antidote to the public perception today of Muslim Women and particularly of women in Iran or the Shia World.

The Hidden Life of Trees

What they feel, how they communicate - Discoveries from a secret world

Author: Peter Wohlleben


Publisher: Greystone Books

Subjects: Nature, Educational

A beautiful book about what really goes on in the life of tree. Written by a German forester who spent years working with trees, the book shows how close tree life is to human life. How tree 'parents' protect their young from growing too fast, support them as they grow, share nutrients with the needy trees and co-operate with one another to ward off danger.

The signs of Allah are everywhere. Almighty Allah says, 'Soon We will soon show them Our signs in the Universe and in their own souls, until it will become quite clear to them that it is the truth' (41:53). This book is an amazing revelation of just how many signs there are in the Universe and how oblivious we are of them.

Trees have a closely connected social life. Every tree is valuable to the community and all are connected through their root systems. They help each other but also struggle to survive themselves. Each want to create more space for itself and to optimize its performance. Trees pair up with fungi to form what the author calls a 'wood wide web'. Trees communicate through scent. Danger is transmitted through the release of scent compounds so other trees are warned.

The book is full of insights about trees, in a way that we may never have thought about trees. It may seem to find too many similarities between trees and human beings, and uses words that seem strange to use for trees. But the author backs up his points with a lot of scientific research.

Although the book gives a lot of details about trees that only intense tree lovers would appreciate, overall it is an amazing read. Changes the way one thinks about the forest. There is much more going on in every created species than we ever imagined. Glory be to Allah, the Best of Creators.

Guantánamo Diary

Author: Mohamedou Ould Slahi


Guantanamo Diary

This is the first and only diary written by an imprisoned Guantánamo detainee. Mohamedou Slahi is a Mauritian who was imprisoned at the detainee camp for more than thirteen years. He was never charged with a crime. In 2010 a federal judge ordered his release but the US government fought the order.

Slahi taught himself English while in detention and hand wrote his own petition to the US government. He began a correspondence with lawyers that recorded the details of his life as a detainee. This became the 'Guantánamo Diary' published after his lawyers struggled for seven years to get the government to allow its publication. The book was published in 2015, heavily censured by the government with large blocks of text obscured. The book reveals the awful horrors of the camp, the harrowing incidents that he was subjected to, the amazing resilience of the author, and his grace and humor which saw him through it. It includes accounts of Slahi's prayers and fasting while in detention, and the attempts to force him into stopping that. The book became a national bestseller. The author was released from Guantánamo in October 2016 and returned to his home country of Mauritania.

According to reporters who interviewed him, Slahi was subjected to brutal interrogations and torture. He maintained his sanity but confesses that he came close to breaking down completely. What is striking is his sense of humor, the bond that he made with some of his guards, and his ability to make the most of small things while in detention. Even more incredible is his efforts to empathize with those who tortured him and understand the reasons behind their subhuman behavior.

CBS's 60 Minutes has aired an interview with him which is fascinating. Slahi talks about his interrogations, his hope to go back home, and his eventual release. A must watch.