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Book Reviews

Dancing in the Mosque

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Dancing in the Mosque

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Better to be a Stone

Nanah-jan said, “In this land, it is better to be a stone than to be a girl” (Qaderi 156).

Every day on my way to school, I would recite Al-Fateha, the opening chapter of the Qur’an, three times, praying that God would mislead the Taliban so they would never find their way to our city” (Qaderi 69).

“See, Homeira, your prayers were not answered! No rain will fall when a black cat prays. God never answers the prayers of girls” (Qaderi 69).

If there is one book you read this year, let it be Dancing in the Mosque. It’s difficult to find the appropriate word to describe the non-fiction work of Dr. Homeira Qaderi, but I think “chilling” is what I keep coming back to in my mind. The novel includes the recollections of the author, with letters to her son mixed in between the pages. Qaderi now lives in the United States, and her son remains in Afghanistan. Her son was only nineteen months old when he was snatched out of her arms.

I knew that if a man utters the word “divorce” three times to his wife, the marriage is null and void” (Qaderi 199).

A Mother’s Story

I’ll leave the reasons why for you to discover on your own. As a mother, a believer in the equal rights and freedoms of girls and women, and someone who values education, this was a tough read. I found myself hanging on every word, unable to put the book down. I couldn’t read without thinking of my own daughters, and what life is like all over the world for so many persecuted people. Qaderi reminded me of my privileges and all the things we take for granted. Dancing in the Mosque is Qaderi’s first book in English, and with the magnitude of both her story and her talent, I am sure there will be more to come.

“It has been years since the black turban-donning Taliban ruled over Afghanistan, but the Talibani mind-set is still alive and well – suppressing women every way it can. Even, or especially, your father…” (Qaderi 195-196).

Qaderi, Homeira. Dancing in the Mosque. Translated by Zaman Stanizai, HarperCollins, 2020.

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