Mortenson in Motion
As I delved into Mortenson’s personal saga in Three Cups of Tea, my understanding of both this region of the world and Islam increased. Several themes in these chapters caught my attention. The themes I was most interested in were the position of women, the importance of education in this region, and the true meaning of Islam. Three Cups of Tea showed me the true roots of Islam and the cultural practices associated with this area. This book made me withdraw my prejudices and form a new opinion about the inhabitants of this region.
As a woman, I was extremely interested in the status of women in both Islam and the Middle East. I had some preconceived notions about women in the Middle East, especially about the way they dressed and their positions compared with males in society. Several passages about women stuck out to me in this book. One of them was after Mortenson’s closest friend and one of the most honored leaders of Korphe, Haji Ali’s wife Sakina passed away. Haji Ali lovingly proclaimed, “I am nothing without her, nothing at all” (259). Mortenson remarks that for such a respected Muslim man to say this about a woman took a great deal of courage. This passage showed me the depth of respect that Muslim men have for their partners, their wives. The next section that interested me and pertained to women addressed the issue of the American women’s perspective on the traditional burkha, or covering around their face. As a modern, liberated American woman, I was most interested in this cultural practice. It was both this section of the book and our speaker on Muslim women that opened my eyes to the idea that burkhas were intended to liberate women instead of enslave them. As opposed to showing skin to free themselves, Islamic women wear burkhas to protect women from themselves from the oppression of a chauvinistic society by concealing their most noticeable gift, their beauty. It was the comment of an Afghani woman that caught my attention,...
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