Born with Wings by Daisy Khan, published on April 24, 2018, accentuates a modern Muslim woman’s spiritual expedition. It is an autobiography of her where she traces her growth in a fairly liberal but observant Muslim family in Kashmir.
Daisy goes to USA and becomes an Islamic feminist activist endeavoring to generate positivity around the globe, promoting inter religious harmony and tolerance. She advocates the privileges and rights of women and continuously strives for their right to equality. Standing on the threshold of life’s journey, Daisy Khan’s novel, is a memoir of deep and true proclamation of struggles and the very beauty of a Muslim woman coming to own her power, faith and the bonding with the Creator.
The author also penned downed the history of Kashmir, Pakistan and Ayatollah Khomeini’s revolution. It chronicles her inner and outer journey from her enchanting childhood in the highlands of Kashmir to her rediscovery of faith in America.
The book is at its ultimate best when she is detailing her own background- cultural clash, struggle with faith, from faith to doubt to faith, and her intellectual and spiritual journey that led her to relinquish the white collar future that her parents had dreamt for her.
She fell for an Imam and married him and together they worked on finding ways to bring to the surface an insight and beauty of the messages that are there in Islam for enlightenment of the world. It is a documentation of the distortion, degeneration and misinterpretation of the religion by the Muslims and the western culture.
In the global super state, the book lays bare the inner struggles of identity and belongings and dis-satisfaction. Daisy was torn in between the correct balance of her traditions and progressive thinking. She was in a spiritual impasse not knowing whether to stick to either her roots or to fly with the wings. This state of hers is reflected when she thinks that Books and learning had been foundation of her world, and now the two books separated by centuries were pulling apart that world.
“Each represented a pole of my values. And so I found myself facing a wrenching choice.”
She falls away from a faith that is being seized by extremists who seem to have skipped basic precepts of the Holy Quran. She was in a spiritual malaise and poured out that in everyone’s imagination, God is a figment.
When the supplicants were praying or imploring God she felt like an outsider to her own religion. Her dilemma is minimized when she met and is satisfied with Feisal, who was a liberal modern Islamic Imam and who materialized her inner faith, quenched her thirst for her spiritual rebirth. She goes on to marry him.
Daisy keeps a record side by side of the fallout after 9/11 and continuously reevaluating her role to become the voice of Muslims. It is an insight of combining the cultures by bridging the ever widening gap and put to bed so many myths concerning Islam’s preaching’s on women perpetuated by the world and the typical society. She presents and interprets and clarifies ideas and rulings of Quran.
She supports her claims by referencing from the Holy Scripture and feminist reinterpretation of Islam and holds the view that Islam in 14th century advocated the rights of woman. The biased attitude by the West is highlighted as an Islamophobic.
The negative press they have gotten and being labeled to as the terrorist is an unluckiness that they face. The book is not so different from other books written post 9/11 to dismantle the pre- planned propaganda against Islam.
She graduated as an architectural designer, and acquired a diverse group of friends. The denigrating and the facile portrayal of Muslims by west are nullified by the views of its mainstream followers like her and others. By showing the commonalities between the three grand Abrahamic traditions, she has promoted interfaith harmony.
She posits that the peaceful and egalitarian values of Islam have been distorted in post 9/11 world by terrorist acts. She puts on the table what we do not understand, we fear. It is our place to learn and understand and not to judge.
She took solace in Sufism in order to satisfy her spiritual needs as she thinks that it generates not only ideas but luminous waves of guidance in the consciousness. When a person is fragmented from its creator, then there is emptiness which needs to be fulfilled and one has to choose a side.
The turning point of the memoir is when she had to go for either her traditions, Islam, or go for her fierce sense of independence and freedom. This is well eloquent when she thinks, “My identity was still in formation. I was no longer just a Kashmiri. I was also an Indian and an American, a New Yorker and a Muslim.”
“As a designer, I understood that colors individually are crystalline and clear, but when you mix the, their essence can be enhanced, diluted, or lost, depending on the proportions. Mix yellow and blue together, and you can have a myriad of greens. Red and yellow can produce a sherbet orange or a fiery coral.
“But if you blend shade upon shade upon shade, the color wheel fails you, and you end up with shades of gray or black.”
The book is a superb example of greater characterization. An artist, and an architect by profession, she puts all her energies in mobilizing and uniting the intra and interfaith believers and creates a global council to empower woman.
The character of Daisy Khan is shown to be a very practical one and all the characters in the memoir are intricately displayed with each narrative giving a tinge of reality.
Feisal’s character has been depicted as a good, mature husband who can well balance all his duties. Her highly approving family is shown in a way that is open to change and is ready to accept and adapt the modernization and liberalization in their lives.
The unity of family, and their affections are shown with a very positive light and their warmth for each other’s is depicted through the sentiments that they hold and reverence for each other in the fabric of the society.
The memoir centers on the cultural clash and the idea of inclusion and acceptance for all. There is no substitute for hard work, perseverance, determination and passion for what you do is shown through this book. The ability to make best of the worst, one has to take life’s ups and down in ones stride, is the message that this text holds.
It is a book highly relevant to modern times. The #metoo movement of voicing for the rights and empowerment of woman is practical form of what is written in the book. It is practically prevalent in the society.
The book holds a mirror to the society in which each and every action and practice is reflected in a sense which can be visible to all. The prevailing political situation and the trauma that the Muslims face, are reflected through this book.
Freedom of expression is not a license to mortify. It is not absolute and limitless. It comes with a social responsibility. The sentiments of Muslims on the mocking of their spiritual leader in name of freedom of expression is also highlighted.
The book is divided into chapters, each chapter focusing on a particular event or a problem she overcame or an issue she explored. In between the chapters are snippets, which highlight the specific initiatives taken by her or other women.
She tackles the problems that many Muslim women faced such as child marriages and acid attacks. The narrative reads like an ocean of accomplishments. Instead of acknowledging her God given talent and ambition she sees the empowering thing was the support of her husband.
She has exposed Islam in its truest sense but she has also been wrong in certain basics like she writes that Ramzan is the last month but it is actually the ninth month of Islamic calendar.
Despite the factual error, the book holds a high value for the readers. It touches issues of terrorism, search for knowledge and status of woman.
The language of the book is highly vocalized. It is in consonance with the emotions. The words used convey the idea, sentiments, emotions that she wants to convey. There is a continuous flow in the narrative which takes the readers along.
Potential readership is there in the book to make the readers imagination flow with not only the narrative but also with the scenery that the nature beholds. The topic chosen is highly significant in the modern times. The issues that we face are highlighted through the use of words written down in this book.
It shows attempts to imbue spirituality while fighting the demons unleashed upon us by the reactionary forces in east and west. In the current and the volatile times we can move to a mindset of abundance and sharing.
It brings to light a narrative that is sidelined in mainstream media. One can understand the faith through the multicultural lens of an accomplished woman. So the book is highly recommended to all those who want to imbue spirituality and are in search for themselves.