Our directory of things of interest

University Directory

STATE OF EMERGENCY: Travels in a Troubled World

  • Written by  Olivia Edward
  • Published in Books
STATE OF EMERGENCY: Travels in a Troubled World
06 Mar
2018
by Navid Kermani  •  Polity Books  •  £17.99 (paperback)

Navid Kermani isn’t that keen on taking part in TV debates any more. He dislikes the sense he’s being asked to either defend or denounce the whole of Islam. The well-known German-Iranian Islamicist prefers words, the way they ferment in readers’ brains and cause them to take a more complex view of life. He believes his task as a writer is to problematise things – question fixed identities; describe ambivalences; and avoid shallow, simplistic tags. ‘Talk to the people while you’re in Syria,’ a cobbler urges Kermani. ‘Every single person here will tell you a thousand truths.’ State of Emergency contains some of those truths. Previously published in German in 2016, it’s a collection of in-depth newspaper articles from 2005 to 2014 focusing on conflict zones around the world affecting Muslims.

Kermani’s style is nuanced and kindly, poetic and philosophical, he zooms in and out of perspectives like a novelist and is drawn to irresolvable tensions like a conceptual artist. He understands how places can exist in the heart and hopes of people as much as in the head – how one can cross the occupied territories of Palestine numerous times and not find Palestine; or be blissfully relaxed on the shimmering Dal Lake in Kashmir, far away from Kashmir.

It’s a shame the book lacks an introductory chapter that would allow Kermani to share more of his overarching expertise, but State of Emergency is a humane and timely reminder that there is no one Islam, no one set of Islamic views, values and beliefs, just as there is no one Western creed. In lieu of an Islamic pluralist theology, he quotes the 13th century poet Ibn Arabi: ‘My heart can take on any form/For gazelles a meadow, for monks a cloister… I follow the religion of love/Wherever its steed turns/I go that way.

Click here to purchase State of Emergency: Travels in a Troubled World by Navid Kermani

NEVER MISS A STORY - Follow Geographical on Social

Want to stay up to date with breaking Geographical stories? Join the thousands following us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and stay informed about the world.

More articles in REVIEWS...

Books

by Caroline Crampton • Granta Books • £14.99 (hardback)

Books

by Alastair Humphreys • Harper Collins • £14.99 (hardback)

Books

by Ben Aitken • Icon Books • £12.99 (paperback)

Books

by Edward O Wilson • Allen Lane • £17.99 (paperback)

Books

by David Eimer • Bloomsbury • £20 (hardback)

Films

The uplifting story of a remarkable man who sailed the…

Books

by John Higgs • Weidenfeld & Nicolson • £20/£11 (hardback/eBook)

Books

by Lewis Dartnell • Bodley Head • £18.99 (hardback)

Books

by Richard Williams • Polity Books • £15.99 (paperback)

Books

by Nicholas Jubber • John Murray Press • £20 (hardback)

Books

by Rob Dunn • Basic Books • £22.99 (hardback)

Books

by Edward Davey • Unbound • £9.99 (paperback)

Exhibitions

From July 2019 to February 2020, the Oxford University Natural…

Books

by Stephen Smith • Polity Books • £15.99 (paperback)

Books

by David Barrie • Hodder & Stoughton • £25 (hardback)

Books

by Juliet Blaxland • Sandstone Press • £9.99 (paperback)

Books

by Bill McKibben • Wildfire • £20 (hardback)

Exhibitions

A new exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery flies forward 100…

Exhibitions

From 12 July through to 10 November, the Fondation Cartier…