It is a scene that still carries fond memories: the sight of the postman standing outside the front door of my grandfather’s Karachi house laden with a cardboard box marked with the Royal Mail’s trademark red livery. The box would contain books from England, carefully packed by my father who was working in London while my mother, sisters and I spent some years in ‘the Land of the Pure’. During the late 1970s, the ‘Islamic republic of Pakistan’ provided thin pickings when it came to affordable English language reading material, something that my father understood well. So he became what was in effect a one-man book club for his three children: asking us what we would like him to send, adding in his own recommendations, and dispatching the contents 5,000 miles away. Even now, thirty years later, I can still feel the excitement as we peeled back the layers of tape and cut through the string when the boxes would arrive.

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Books mentioned in this review

The Convert: A Tale of Exile and Extremism by Deborah Baker, Minnesota: Graywolf Press, 2011.

Mawlana Mawdudi and Political Islam by Roy Jackson, London: Routledge, 2010.

Elsewhere on Critical Muslim: