Background and Other Interesting Notes

The Terrorists of Irustan was published in 1999, two full years before the events of September 11th. The book was, in fact, inspired by the takeover in Afghanistan by Taliban and the subsequent appalling treatment of women and girls; I was no less moved by the fate of young boys pressed into military service, and also by the effects on men whose mothers and wives and daughters lost their freedom to work and study, and move about unescorted.

The characters in The Terrorists of Irustan are not Muslim, but in preparing to write the book, I read several excellent books on Islam and the lives of women who are veiled. These are worth checking out:

  • Beyond the Veil, by Fatima Mernissi; a magnificently written work examining all sides of the issue of women who live a secluded life.
  • Nine Parts of Desire, by Geraldine Brooks; a courageous visit to the hidden world of Islamic women by a Western journalist.
  • What Everyone Should Know about Islam and Muslims, by Suzanne Haneef; a short book by an American Muslim woman explaining her feelings about the Islamic life style.

Because the world of Irustan is an analog of a Middle Eastern society, I tried to understand something of the Arab peoples and their culture.

  • A History of the Arab Peoples, by Albert Hourani; offers insights such as: ” . . . although the depiction of living forms was not explicitly forbidden by the Qur’an, most jurists, basing themselves on Hadith, held that this was an infringement of the sole power of God to creat life . . . Surfaces were covered with decoration: forms of plants and flowers . . . highly stylized . . . patterns of lines and circles . . . “
  • Tales, Hazrat Inayat Khan; teaching stories in the Sufi tradition, drawn from parables, fables, legends, and stories of prophets and saints.