Qais Akbar Omar's memoir, A Fort of Nine Towers
, is a chronicle of the author's childhood and teen years in war-torn Afghanistan. He grew up during an especially turbulent time in the country's history witnessing the departure of the occupying USSR troops; the ensuing civil war that inflicted incredible hardship on the population as warlords from the Mujahideen sought to fill the power vacuum; the subsequent takeover by the Taliban; and finally the Taliban's ouster by the foreign coalition formed after 9/11. Age seven at the beginning of the narrative, Omar relays how these disparate forces affected his life and the lives of friends and family over the following two decades.
Omar's writing is somewhat choppy and simplistic, underscoring the fact that English isn't the author's native language: "Just as night fell, the electricity...
Beyond the Book
Westerners often hear news reports of groups known as the Mujahideen, the Taliban, and Al-Qaeda. It can be easy to confuse or merge them in one's thinking, but they are of course separate organizations with differing histories, goals and characteristics.
The Mujahideen (singular mujahid
) comes from the word jihad
, which means, "struggle." First referenced in the Quran, a mujahid
is a Muslim who struggles in the path of Allah. Over time this has taken on the connotation of being one who proclaims himself a warrior for the faith, or someone who is a freedom fighter struggling to liberate his land from non-Muslim influence, sometimes by violent means. The term is currently used rather freely, often to describe any Muslim group...