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Tuesday, 31 March 2009
Hannah Shah, The Imam?s Daughter

by Esmerelda Weatherwax (April 2009)

When I bought this book on
Amazon in early March the usual “you might like this” selection popped up. Not Infidel or the Caged Virgin by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, but a selection of true gloom of the sort I described here. Don’t let that put you off reading it because Hannah Shah’s book is an important autobiography. The Rt Revd Michael Nazir Ali, Bishop of Rochester is said to have had her experience in mind when he made his recent decision to leave Rochester to work for the persecuted church. more>>>

Posted on 03/31/2009 5:52 PM by NER
27 Oct 2011

article of course is fantastic.. i read the book myself and what intrigued me to read the book was not only the title but the writings of jasvinder sanghera-Shame and Daughters of shame. they both are hillarious tales..horrific and i have never come across such sufferings before especially Hannah shah's. i pray for her happy marital life and i wish she could have understood the true spirit of Quran and Islam. i wrote to her earlier too. it isnt the islam propogated by her father so called imam and it never can be the domain of him to interpret for him the religion as he did. he is loathesome to deal his own flesh like this. as a literary persona i like the book from beginning till end. it never lets you put it off. i skipped my meals and prayers to finish the book and was relieved to read the end that shes living happily. as far as religious point of view is concerned i request her to know the true spirit of it. its the foremost duty of a muslim to recognize all heavenly books and prophets and to have faith in them. muhammad(p.b.u.h) is the messenger of God and he always taught to respect and treat women kindly and affectionately. he treated his family-his wives and daughters, and rest of the muslim ladies with utmost respect. he used to stand up for his daughter in respect if she ever entered the room to see him.women have rights and their rights have been valued by the prophet. his whole life is tale of respect and reverence for the women. even God has dedicated whole one surah in Quran for women..its not the islam teaching such unapproving behaviour but the man himself has coined to suit his business.

what her father and her rest of the family did to her is the acts of most ignorant persons on this earth. well i pray for her and her family now to lead a very happy life. what i wanted to emphasize isits not the religion that makes you so but the very cicumstances and the pesonalities themselves.. wish you all the best too for recognizing her miseries and supporting herin her dismal times.. humaira from pakistan.

1 Apr 2009
Send an emailMary Jackson

Great review - I've ordered it on Amazon. Interesting comment from Dumbledoresarmy too.

1 Apr 2009

 Dear Esmerelda

thank you so much for posting this.  When I had finished reading it I must say that I felt like dancing round the room singing alleluias for sheer joy at Hannah's escape and deliverance - her 'exodus from darkness', as another escapee from Islam, Daniel Shayesteh, has called it.  'Hannah Shah' and her family will be written into my prayerbook, added to my ever-lengthening list of intercessions.

I think, too, that I will buy 'The Imam's Daughter', and share it around at church.

Reading your summary of her story, I was particularly struck by the fact that her attendance at ordinary infidel schools, allowing her contact with loving non-Muslim people (and likeminded friends such as the rebellious 'skip') was one of the factors that enabled her to eventually make her escape, physically and spiritually. Had she been confined within a 'closed' Islamic milieu, say, attending Muslim-only schools, her escape would have been much more difficult.   One sees, from this, the point of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's adamant insistence that *Islamic* schools should not be permitted (Ayaan is not against *all* 'faith-based' schools, whether Jewish, Catholic or suchlike; she is merely against the setting up of exclusively Islamic schools). 

One also sees , from what Hannah's first, Muslim, social worker did to her, that there is a very good argument for making sure that the cases of Muslim girls and women who present as victims of familial abuse, are always handled by non-Muslims.   And given the way in which the Muslim 'community' works, its general refusal to 'own up' to wrongdoing, its track record of 'honor' murders and 'blaming the victims', Hannah Shah's story is also a good argument for abused Muslim children NOT to be placed with Muslim foster carers...the risk that they will be betrayed and handed right back to their abusers, is just too great.

A final thought - when I read your citation of that terrible moment  where Hannah's father angrily forbids her to laugh - have you heard of Steven Vincent's book about Iraq, 'In the Red Zone'?  There is a fascinating interview with him, in 'FrontPage',

in which he remarks on the fact that while he was among Iraqi Muslims he *never* heard a woman laugh.

Here is the best bit:

Glazov - "You note in your book that at one point you were sitting in the Al-Hamra hotel, where western journalists hang out. Beside the swimming pool you heard two American women laughing, and you said a chill went right through you.  You then realized that you had not heard a woman laugh in Iraq, 'not in a free and unguarded manner, at any rate'. That laughter became like music to your ears.

Stephen: This part of the book touches a special chord in me, as I am researching why Arab tribal culture and militant Islam forbid women to laugh, regarding it as an evil.  Many totalitarian cultures, actually, frown on frivolity, especially among women and, in turn, especially among young women.

Glazov - This is quite a phenomenon.  What is laughter and what does it represent?  What does it represent in a woman?

Vincent - To me, laughter is that brief moment when we, in our limited capacities as human beings, express the joy of creation {nb - I once read that among the Inuit, one of the words for mutual sexual joy, sexual play between man and woman, translates literally as "to laugh together" - dda}.

It is a suggestion of grace, when we become possessed by the spirit 'that bloweth where it will', making fools of the patriarchs, tyrants, death-cult warriors and Islamofascist clerics who attempt to stop it.

As for a woman's laughter - objectively speaking, I don't think it's any different from a man's.  Both represent a moment when men and women unite with the creative element of the Spirit {and he might have added, here, that it is no coincidence that Yitzhak, father of Israel, is named 'laughter', Sarah says 'G-d has made me to laugh' - dda}.

'But to answer your question more precisely, for me - a male - hearing women in Iraq (but not, sadly, Iraqi women) laugh for the first time in weeks represented the most beautiful sound imaginable.  A sound of the human spirit that I'd always taken for granted, now seemed inestimably precious.  The fact that I hadn't heard this feminine music in so long brought home to me the horrors of despotism - whether under the Baathist regime or the Koran."...END QUOTE.

Well: I will pray that 'Hannah', who wisely and bravely defied her evil father's command to 'never laugh', will by the grace of YHWH the liberator enjoy much laughter with her husband, and be blessed with many happy children.