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Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Reza Aslan

Reza Aslan
رضا اصلان
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For all accounts, Reza Aslan is clearly passionate about religious matters. At fifteen he converted to Evangelical Christianity, several years later he returned to Islam, and  realized that he should target his focus on the contemporary Muslim universe, to understand its roots and its reasons, its challenges and its future, more than that, to understand its history in relation to its present. That's not easy task and no wonder his opinions are often polemic and controversial. I would like to read his most recent book (Zealot, The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth): I think it is not about the historical Jesus - I think it tries to analyze the beginnings of Christianity having in mind the contemporary picture of Middle East and looking for parallels, building this way a perspective on the present from the past. I'm telling all this because a colleague on a web forum refuted recently the book, as an attempt to demonstrate the historicity of Jesus (my colleague being very much against it).  It's not about the historicity of Jesus, I think, rather on trying a bridge between the present Mid East and the beginnings of a religion that started there some two thousand years ago. But, I must say, the colleague has read the book, I haven't yet, and I want to see if my perception is correct.

Thus I started looking for the book. I haven't found it yet here in Bucharest; instead I found an English Bookstore (Anthony Frost) where they had another book by him: an anthology of contemporary Arabic / Turkish / Persian / Pakistani literature having Reza Aslan as editor. I bought it immediately and I had the splendid surprise to find in it some poems by Forough Farrokhzād. I will come back to them, now let me say that this anthology seems to give me reason: Reza Aslan is focused on contemporary Muslim universe. I will order the other books of him through this bookstore (there is also another book: No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam - the title itself is self-explanatory and strengthens my opinion about Aslan).

Aslan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in religions from Santa Clara University, a Master of Theological Studies degree from Harvard Divinity School, and a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop, where he was named the Truman Capote Fellow in Fiction. Aslan also received a Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology, focusing in the history of religion, from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside, a Research Associate at the University of Southern California (wiki).

(A Life in Books)

(Iranian Film and Poetry)



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