Main Article Content
Novels are ideal vehicles for learning and teaching about the situation of
modern Islam. The narrative form facilitates the reader’s understanding that
the pressing questions of contemporary religion are ones faced by human
actors in their individual day-to-day lives and cannot (and should not) be generalized
to all believers in a given faith everywhere. My own favorite in many
years of teaching Islam in the context of an introductory course on “western”
religions has been Cheikh Hamidou Kane’s Ambiguous Adventure (originally
published in French [1962; English translation 1963]), which broaches
all of the fundamental tensions of modernity in the African and French contexts.
But that book is now distant in time and cultural space, especially for
young North American audiences, and stands only, I fear, as a historical portrait
of the debate. Kane’s work remains helpful in understanding how matters
got to where they are today, but perhaps less so for engaging its readers
in cultural debates immediately relevant to their lives ...