So much to relate of my vacation reading, my library trip once back home, the conclusion of this PLR. But to get myself started, to prevent the enormity of the task from overwhelming me, I present you with the tidbits I've gleaned so far today from Nine Parts of Desire, by Geraldine Brooks. This book about the lives of Islamic women does not appear to be related with the play of the same name, except to the extent that they address the same topic and share a title drawn from Islamic texts.
First, and on a pleasingly practical basis, I finally learned the basic difference between Sunnis and Shiites. I still don't know what I should about what the two groups are doing right now in Iraq, but I know that that Sunni is from a word meaning "tradition," and after Muhammad's death they advocated the traditional method of the elders electing a new leader, while Shiite comes from the word for partisans, for the partisans of Ali, Muhammad's son-in-law, and the idea of a blood lineage. Shiites like revolution and fighting the power, historically. Whaddaya know?
But the best thing I've learned already from the beginning of this book is that Islam looks remarkably and eerily like Mormonism when you look at the history. Muhammad was married to a slightly older and very successful businesswoman for many years. After her death, he started having revelations that men shoudl take many wives. As his wives, being young and caught up in his power, began exciting scandal, he started having revelations about cloistering women. When he desired the wife of his adopted son, but couldn't have her (even after said son divorced her out of respect for his adopted father) due to previous revelations categorizing this as incest, he had new revelations declaring all adoptions invalid, so that he could marry this woman.
It looks JUST LIKE MORMONISM. It's like when Joseph Smith had a revelation that directed his wife by name to stick by her husband and stop complaining about the other marriages he kept having.
Creepy old men have really messed the world up, huh?
Welcome back from vacation.