I was standing with a friend on the subway platform late one evening travelling back from some much needed halal food at a Senegalese restaurant in Harlem, New York. I glanced up at an advertisement hoarding above me. A photo of one of the twin towers on fire was juxtaposed with a quotation from the Qur’an: ‘Soon We shall cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers’ with the explanation: ‘This is a paid advertisement sponsored by the AMERICAN FREEDOM DEFENSE INITIATIVE’, along with the serious-sounding web address TruthAboutQuran.Org.

A vision of a city that was the place I was born in, and sometimes the fugitive corners of all the other streets I’d ever wandered down, called to me insistently night after night. I walk the deserted routes of my childhood at dawn towards something unnamed. Then there is darkness and a full moon, a bright neon moon.

The Venice Biennale is regarded as one of the most prestigious cultural events in the international calendar. Its history dates back to 1895; since 1998, it has sought to place new work in a relationship with the past and promote a stronger dialogue with the viewer.

In July 1979, six months into the Iranian Revolution that brought Islamists into power, Ahmad Shamloo wrote a poem, ‘In This Dead-End’, that proved to be prophetic and captured what was to come.

There is no lack of books, pamphlets, scholarly tomes and polemical works on ‘Women in Islam’. Every genre is covered: classical, traditional, modernist and reformist. And we must not forget the digital media: a quick search on YouTube alone will generate over two million hits.

To paraphrase the classic pop song: men — what are they good for? Currently a consensus appears to be forming around the song’s riposte — absolutely nothing! In which case it may be necessary to issue the time-honoured alert to ground control: Houston, humanity has a problem.

A confession. In case you did not know I am a man. A generic, universal entity about which the seventeenth century French aristocrat Madame de Sevigne knew a thing or two. ‘The more I see of men’, she declared, ‘the more I admire dogs’. Knowing myself as well as I do, I appreciate her preference.