Before and since my trip to Pakistan in January 2017 I’ve been reading a lot about that part of the world and about Islam. Both Pakistan and Islam were known to me, of course, but I hadn’t spent any time trying to study them or understand them past beyond what I would see in the US media.
I never planned out my readings in these subjects with any academic or scientific rigor. I was first guided by what I felt I needed to know before going to Karachi and Lahore. Since returning, I have been guided by what interests me and what might answer the questions that had accumulated for me from my trip. The books I’ve read have also been guided by the recommendations of friends both in and outside Pakistan. I am very grateful for their help!
Since returning from Pakistan, my readings continued about that country but eventually moved outside those borders and into Afghanistan and India. As I continued to read, my interests were also leading me further backwards in time and to other places connected via Islam.
For example, I recently finished “Holy War: The Crusades and Their Impact on Today’s World” by Karen Armstrong. This book has started to help me understand not only the history of Christian crusading but also the possible roots of the “Middle East Crisis” in Israel and Palestine.
Within minutes after finishing this book I picked up “The Devil’s Horsemen: The Mongol Invasion of Europe” by James Chambers. Much of the history I’ve read of the Pakistan region has included mentions of the Mongol invaders. While my current book centers on Europe it’ll hopefully be the start of a “deeper dive” of future reading about the Mongols who played an important role in Asian and world history.
Also on my list is “The Pashtun Question: The Unresolved Key to the Future of Pakistan and Afghanistan” by Abubakar Siddique. This book will be a return to my Pakistan reading roots and I hope will give me some historical background on this tribe.