Russen Guggemos's Reviews > The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman's Journey to Love and Islam

The Butterfly Mosque by G. Willow Wilson
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's review
Apr 07, 2011

it was amazing
Read from March 10 to April 07, 2011

I'm 60% through this and I'm completely captivated by the cultural bridge she's building with this story. In the process of understanding the morals and beliefs of another culture, you gain the perspective to understand those within your own, the things we were raised with and take for granted as facts or truth.


Weirdly enough, rather than just accepting the values and morals of another culture, I find my mind subtly railing against them. The western way of thought is that certain things are universal, like truths or rights. Through the lens of this writer, I've had to learn that cultures are not transparent, that they really are like jars. At first, it was only that Cairo had such strict rules that made it Right and Best for women to be sheltered, honored, and respected in a way that acknowledged the limitations of what their capable of. The same would be true for any other other city whose culture had adapted to living in, say, a war zone, where violence and chaos were unavoidable.

Our culture, too, has its restrictions and walls, but we're so used to them and accept each and everyone of them that we don't even see them anymore. This book, too, touches on the changes in the psyche of what happened when the so-called PatriotACT was passed after 9/11. I was also attending Boston University, a junior when the radios started buzzing about terror attacks and falling buildings. Classes weren't canceled that day, but hardly a soul went. On that day, we accepted that our culture truly was at war with another culture, tangible beyond spy-movies for the first time in our young lives. Then, immediately after, we were also faced with the war that our own government had declared on our privacy, freedoms, civil rights, and told to swallow the *fact* that it was for our own good.

Those who protested, who rallied in the streets, blocked traffic or the like, were arrested en-mass. Civil disobedience, then, was suddenly terrorism instead of free speech. The people yelled to their elected officials, that we did not want this war, and they responded "Yes, you do.".

I'm okay with this idea as much as I'm okay with the idea that a woman isn't allowed to talk to a man she does not know in the streets. Not because it is right or good, but because it is simply the sad truth.


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