To understand a people you must live among them for 40 days. This is an Arabic proverb that author Tamalyn Dallal took to heart as she set out to find out who the Muslim people are and what their realities are like. Ms. Dallal gave up her glamorous South Beach lifestyle and didn't tell anyone she... show more
To understand a people you must live among them for 40 days. This is an Arabic proverb that author Tamalyn Dallal took to heart as she set out to find out who the Muslim people are and what their realities are like. Ms. Dallal gave up her glamorous South Beach lifestyle and didn't tell anyone she met that she was one of the most famous bellydancers on the planet. She simply packed a duffle bag, learned to dress modestly, and set out to lift the veil of misperception about the Muslim world. Twenty percent of the worlds population is Muslim, and we hear some fearsome things, but how much do we really know? Who are they? How do they live? What do they think of us? Tamalyn Dallal throws herself into five Muslim countries for 40 days each, not in search of a sensational story, rather in a quest to experience life... a life that is completely foreign and full of surprises. The journey begins in the tsunami ravaged tip of Indonesia known as Aceh, where people believe that the tsunami came from God, descendants of warrior princeses scoot about on motorbikes, colorful veils billowing in the wind, and the daily grind stops on cue five times a day to heed the call to prayer. Ms. Dallal then takes a bus deep into the Sahara desert, nearly reaching the border with Libya and takes up residence in the Siwa Oasis. The local Berber population, who often have blue eyes, farms dates and olives much like their ancestors did. The taxis are donkey driven. Behind this idyllic facade lies the danger that environmental destruction, abusive police and sexual tourism will destroy the people who made this oasis unique and beautiful. A sultry and hypnotizing song wooes Tamalyn to the east African island of Zanzibar. She falls in love with the romantic Arab-African sounds of Africa's oldest band, the 103 year old Ikhwani Safaa Musical Club. They are like an Arab-African Buena Vista Social Club. While producing a cd of their music, she experiences an all woman spirit channeling sub culture, learns about the local djinn, tries to learn Swahili and learns more than she wants to know about the heroin trade that has infiltrated the island. Tranquility resumes as Tamalyn heads to Jordan, an oasis of peace surrounded by strife. With the help of a French reporter, a bellydancer and a music professor, she meets nomadic Bedouins, Turkmen, Circassians who are said to be the descendants of Amazon Women, enters the worlds largest Palestinean refugee camp, and becomes friends with the family of Jordans most famous Gypsy singer. Lastly, she follows the quote by Prophet Muhammed PBUH, that says; You must pursue knowlege from birth to death, even to faraway lands such as China. Tamalyn Dallal disembarks in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region of China, formerly East Turkestan, home to the Turkic speaking Uyghurs who are Muslim. In this arid desert, modern skyscrapers compete with horse drawn carts. Traditional medicine brought by the ancient Greeks is still practiced with great success, and people walk a tight rope three stories overhead every night in the heart of the city. Gain a new perspective on a wide slice of our world that we hear so much and know so little about. You will be surprised, delighted, and sometimes shocked at the fascinating web of true life tales told by this modern day Scheherezade.