The first time I read it, I was not fully equipped to get the extent of it. Not that I consider myself fully equipped now, but at least I got a fair idea why Qurratulain Hyder is considered to belong to the breed of Marquez, Saramago and Pamuk by so many critics of Urdu literature. A superb masterpiece which should be read by all from the subcontinent and those who wish to make sense of various crisscrossing currents of history, society and religion.Without any biases, I consider it far superior than One Hundred Years of Solitude with which it is compared so often. Perhaps because its breadth of past 2000 years is surprisingly so meaningful in the present. An English translation is available here.
Not great but not bad either. Overall a dense read except some very lucid introductory parts about Averroes and Ibn Tufayl. Read on if you want to recap important historical phases in Islamic Philosophy but if you want a good insight, criticism and comments from variety of perspectives, get your hands on something like Hosseins Nasr’s Encyclopedia of Islamic Philosophy.
Overall, a very lucid and readable book. Armstrong’s case is primarily built against the newage militant atheist as well as postmodern religious fundamentalist but in doing so she obscures further – perhaps inadvertently – the nature of ultimate reality we call God. She successfully traces back the roots of post-renaissance apophatic theological shift in antiquity and medieval religion. However, her version of God presents another problematic of reducing God to a mere abstract symbol or a set of symbols. In my humble view, Armstrong’s thesis is apt to question a theist’s conviction as much as it helps in countering the thesis of an atheist. Any one interested in broad historical currents of theological metaphysics related to God must not miss it. Perhaps better than many of Armstrong’s other books as far as asking the right questions is concerned, but if you are thinking to counter Dawkins and Hitchens, Armstrong’s case is not more than a starter.