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Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree

(Islam Quintet #1)

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  3,064 ratings  ·  377 reviews
Tariq Ali tells us the story of the aftermath of the fall of Granada by narrating a family saga of those who tried to survive after the collapse of their world. Ali is particularly deft at evoking what life must have been like for those doomed inhabitants, besieged on all sides by intolerant Christendom. "This is a novel that have something to say, and says it well." --"Th ...more
Paperback, 244 pages
Published July 1st 1993 by Verso (first published 1992)
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Ugur Tezcan It originates from the fall of the barbarian (Moroccon) empires who were controlling this territory, basically the Southern Spain, that was then turne…moreIt originates from the fall of the barbarian (Moroccon) empires who were controlling this territory, basically the Southern Spain, that was then turned into Muslim Kingdom of Granada in the XIIIth century.
Then Castillians started a Reconquista, which consisted of eradicating Islam in that region. (less)

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May 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sue by: Nile Daughter
Though this is historical fiction, Ali's novel provides a window on the late 15th century world of al Andalus Spain, a world where Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand and the powerful heads of the Church have battled their way back to power in most of the country and have made treaties with the remaining Muslim population. These treaties promise freedom of life and religion and peace but it seems that the Queen and certain of the church leaders have other plans. Soon acts of violence against Musli ...more
I write this review after the close defeat of a potential US Senator, who believed among other things, that a Muslim should not serve in the US Senate because he wouldn’t swear on the Bible (said douche bag also believes that women should stay in the home and that sex with 14-year-old girls when you’re in your 30s is okay). This defeat occurred shortly after a sitting US president retweet the unverified “news” tweets of a British hate group. The tweets showed video supposedly showing Muslims beh ...more
César Lasso
Entertaining, and might be useful to make some people acquainted with the tragedy of the Spanish Moriscos. Nonetheless, the author passed some important historical errors. One of those - the plot is in Granada around 1499-1500. There are Jews at the service of Christians or living among the Moriscos, and they have Jewish names... That is simply impossible, since Jews had been unfortunately expelled from Spain in 1492. Those who remained were officially Christians and, as such, couldn't have had ...more
Actually it deserves 3.8. I won't deny that I really loved this novel, loved its characters, shared their feelings,dreams..etc, even was saddened at their death.The writer succeeded in portraying life at Andalusia, throughout the book you can see the gardens, the streams, smell the food. the characters are vivid and alive. Also he succeeded in showing how the muslims were civilized, how they carried the light to Europe and also their superiority to their European foes in different aspects of lif ...more
Apr 02, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This tragically beautiful tale of the aftermath of the Reconquest of Moorish Spain is told through the lives of three generations of a noble Muslim family living near Grenada. The promises of tolerance betrayed by Ferdinand and Isabella, the story revolves around the family's attempt to survive a sadistic Cardinal intent on the destruction of not just their existence, but every memory of them, their faith and their way of life. While the Catholic Church is the ostensible bad actor in this story, ...more
Jul 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: spain, religion, hf
This book is good. The writing style did not grab me, but it confirmed the little I previously knew about the Moors in Spain and their expulsion during the Inquisition. I didn't know previously that it was Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand, the ones who sent Columbus to discover America, that were also behind the terrible Spanish Inquisition! The book brought to life the fall of Granada, the terrible burning of all the Arabic litterature, except for a few hundred medical science books. Furthermo ...more
I read to see the world differently.

Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree is the first in Tariq Ali's Islam Quintet. Set in Granada, Spain, at the beginning of the 16th century, we see the beginning of the Spanish Inquisition, as seen through the eyes of a wealthy Muslim family.

The Spanish Moors faced a no-win dilemma: Convert to Christianity (and always be suspected by Christians) or die. While some converted – or appeared to do – Zuhayr surmised that they would kill the spirit of the Gharnatinos. M
This novel by Tariq Ali is the first book in the “Islam Quintet, a series of stand alone novels based on different periods of Islamic history. Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree takes place in Granada, Al Andalous, Spain 1499, a time when when the Castilian Christians had just taken over Granada, the last of the Arab-Muslim cities. Anyone familiar with this time in history will know that these stories will always be sad. Under "Moorish" rule Christians and Jews were allowed to freely practice their ...more
Feb 27, 2017 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Good but it didn't blow me away. I enjoyed it sufficiently to want to read the second in the quintet, however. Some of the writing, particularly the descriptions of the Andalusian landscape, is beautiful. Towards the end, despite its inevitability and the author's forewarning, the horror and heartbreak of the outcome still took me by surprise.

I found this an honest account of a terrible period in Spanish history. The Moors had ruled for centuries, tolerating any and all religions. The
Jan 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
I've finished re-reading Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree, and it seems to me that it's a celebration and testimony to all the cherished parts of Andalusian culture. Many aspects continued in Arabic and Mediterranean cultures, and many have of course changed since the sixteenth century. Those that have changed are recounted with nostalgia (for example, early cooking, medicine, and arts). Those that have not changed are presented with joy (for example, varying shades of religiosity among Muslims, ...more
Haider Hussain
May 12, 2016 rated it liked it
Tariq Ali is different from most of the typical South Asian writers who are heavy on language but light on substance; and who only use twisted sentences and flowery language to sound intelligent. Tariq Ali instead used a smoother and fluent prose to get his point across. No pseudo-philosophical bullshit. I liked that.

BUT, as far as the plot is concerned, there is nothing new. Especially for those who have read Nasim Hijazi's classic Urdu novels. (In particular, I remember reading one of Hijazi's
Oct 19, 2007 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: nobody
An utterly cliche-ridden, stereotype-pandering, badly written book! I was fully prepared to really like it, but had to struggle to not completely detest it.
Seth Reeves
Jun 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is a book that narrates a fatal clash of cultures while shining a realistic and never pandering light on its subjects. The author shows that neither side is neither is totally without blame at the time of the Reconquista, the way they referred to the reclaiming of Andalusia by the Christians from the Moors, but history does show that the Muslims of that time were at least willing to allow members of other faiths to live in their midst without having to convert to Islam.

You see Christian ch
In times such as these, what is the most important consideration? To survive here as best we can, or to rethink the last five hundred years of our existence and plan our future accordingly?
Of late, thanks to a certain online group, I've formulated a habit of creating monthly themes of reading to help both narrow down and guide my choices for a limited time. This month is half Women in Translation, half first in the various series that have been lying around, the latter mostly so that I
Feb 26, 2008 rated it it was ok
tariq ali is a moron...he gets one star for writing an interesting fiction..and another for bringing a certain period of history to light that others ignore...
he doesn't get the other 3 b/c he uses urdu words when talkin bout spanish/arab history!! the characters are more out of modern day lahore than historical spain...i wonder what else he has all wrong in there...i really don't think he's an authority on this type of writing...
Tariq Mahmood
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: europe, history, islam
What a novel, must read for all Muslims at least.
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was ok
Tariq Ali's history begins as a tedious fable, gains speed and some emotional complexity with exceptionally twisted romantic intrigues, and ends as a knight's quest, in an oddly Christian tradition. If we are to believe Ali's version of history, the Moors spent the final 200 years of their power bedding other men and family members. His Moors do offer any number of reasons for why they face impending doom from Christians. They are usually complaints regarding Moorish political leaders, but sheer ...more
Oct 25, 2013 rated it really liked it
I received an electronic copy of this from the publisher via NetGalley.

This novel intrigued me and held my interest primarily from its exotic nature to a Western reader relatively unfamiliar with the time period, particularly from the Muslim point of view. I studied Medieval Spanish history in course for school years ago, but not up to this point of the Renaissance period of 'Reconquest' under the reigns of Ferdinand and Isabella.

It is immediately apparent that Ali writes nonfiction essays and s
Apr 22, 2012 rated it really liked it
The years after 1492 in Spain were not good years for anyone but the Catholic hierarchy. Forced conversion and expulsion of Jews, followed by the same treatment for Muslims. 'Forced conversion' is a euphemism: it means vile torture plus the threat (often carried out) of being burned alive. As Ali makes clear, a prime motivation for those persecutions was the church's desire to seize the land and wealth of Spanish Jews and Muslims.

This novel is set in 1499 in a small village near Granada and trac
Jun 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
unlike the other islamic book (story bout islam), this book have a different style of language. it is more western rather than middle east language. this style influcenced by his background.
bout this book itself, its about a hudayl family and their confrontation with christendom at the end of the fifteenth century. this family live by less choice, stay in their islamic life but have to faced the inquisitor or changed their faith into catholic so they can saved, or moved to other place, to avoid
May 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book, depicting the horrific events that took place in Spain at around 1500 when the Muslims were expulsed from Spain. Interesting and intelligent characters. Reads like George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice And Fire, but without dragons and magic.
James F
Jun 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
The first book of the Islam Quintet, Shadows of the Pomegrante Tree is a historical novel about the destruction of Grenada/Andalusia after the Christian Reconquest. It begins in December of 1499 with the Christians publicly burning hundreds of thousands of Arabic manuscripts confiscated from the 195 libraries of the city of Gharnata at the order of Archbishop Ximenes de Cisneros, Queen Isabella's confessor and the symbol here for the ignorance and intolerance of the Spanish Christians. Despite t ...more
Noor Sahar
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
started reading in 2015 and put it back just after few pages. May be at that time I wasn't in the right mood or a bit way much occupied.

however this time when I read the book from the very beginning I found it pretty gripping with the plot. its an historic fiction which depicts the fall of Islam in Spain in queen Isabella's reign.

if u like to read historical fiction and bit of Islamic philosophy then you would surely enjoy this one.
Apr 05, 2017 rated it did not like it
I started reading this due to a cracking review in The New Yorker (I think) stating this quintet was among the best novels written on historical periods in various Muslim countries. It possibly is IF you're reading it in Arabic but the translation needs to reflect the subtlety and beauty of the original writing. Otherwise, I'd rather read a history book. I gave up. I admit it.
Feb 19, 2017 added it
After reading this novel, I was not surprised to learn that the author is a prominent theorist and public figure, but not well known as a novelist. Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree is a novel of ideas, tracking philosophy, drawing out strains of religious practices and ideologies, and complicating Islam's historic relationship to race, gender and sexuality. But it's not particularly well-written, nor are its characters uniquely compelling - they exist as perspectives or types, not in the flesh. T ...more
Charles D
Jan 19, 2016 rated it did not like it
I had the displeasure of reading this book in my Language Arts class, and after reading, I sincerely wish that I had picked one of the other choices. Having known nothing about any of the books other than a one-sentence description, I chose Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree on a whim, hoping I would choose something worth reading. Sadly, I was mistaken.

This book takes place in 15th Century Spain, more specifically an area of Spain containing mainly Muslims, called al-Andalus. We are taken to the m
Oct 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 03, 2012 rated it really liked it
A mesmerizing look at Muslim Spain during the Reconquest, from the perspective of the re-conquered. The disconnect between Ferdinand and Isabella's actual orders and the way they were implemented by the local Spanish Inquisition is fascinating. The idyllic home life of the Muslim village nobility is enchanting. The brutality of the Catholic violence is appalling. And the one-page epilogue is tantalizing. A book to include in my curriculum of wars from the perspective of the attacked....
Syed Attia
Feb 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A heartwrenching, profound historical fiction. Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree, set in Granada (Al-Andalus), tells the story of fall of Hudayl Clan and the Spanish Moors. Through the eyes of young Yazid, Ali shows how difficult life became for the Moors and how some, including his uncle Miguel, had chosen to collaborate with the Spanish and become Christians in order to advance. A heart-rending historical narrative. Best!
Ahmed Adel
Feb 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I could never imagine I would have tears in my eyes at the end of this novel. The final scenes in the novel are really heart-breaking. Although I did not agree with the final words of Zuhayr, I could not but feel pity for all the characters of the Banu-Hudayl family...
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Middle East/North...: Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree by Tariq Ali 13 50 Nov 09, 2015 05:17PM  

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Tariq Ali (Punjabi, Urdu: طارق علی) (born 21 October 1943) is a British-Pakistani historian, novelist, filmmaker, political campaigner, and commentator. He is a member of the editorial committee of the New Left Review and Sin Permiso, and regularly contributes to The Guardian, CounterPunch, and the London Review of Books.

He is the author of several books, including Can Pakistan Survive? The Death

Other books in the series

Islam Quintet (5 books)
  • The Book of Saladin (Islam Quintet, #2)
  • The Stone Woman (Islam Quintet, #3)
  • A Sultan in Palermo (Islam Quintet, #4)
  • Night of the Golden Butterfly (Islam Quintet, #5)

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