In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor's Journey in the Saudi Kingdom

In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor's Journey in the Saudi Kingdom

by Qanta Ahmed,

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"In this stunningly written book, a Western trained Muslim doctor brings alive what it means for a woman to live in the Saudi Kingdom. I've rarely experienced so vividly the shunning and shaming, racism and anti-Semitism, but the surprise is how Dr. Ahmed also finds tenderness at the tattered edges of extremism, and a life-changing pilgrimage back to her Muslim faith." - Gail Sheehy

The decisions that change your life are often the most impulsive ones.

Unexpectedly denied a visa to remain in the United States, Qanta Ahmed, a young British Muslim doctor, becomes an outcast in motion. On a whim, she accepts an exciting position in Saudi Arabia. This is not just a new job; this is a chance at adventure in an exotic land she thinks she understands, a place she hopes she will belong.

What she discovers is vastly different. The Kingdom is a world apart, a land of unparralled contrast. She finds rejection and scorn in the places she believed would most embrace her, but also humor, honesty, loyalty and love.

And for Qanta, more than anything, it is a land of opportunity. A place where she discovers what it takes for one woman to recreate herself in the land of invisible women.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402210877
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 09/01/2008
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 222,692
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 2.00(d)

About the Author

Dr. Ahmed is currently an assistant professor of medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, and Assistant Director of the MUSC Sleep Disorders Laboratory. She is a quadruple boarded in internal medicine, pulmonary disease, critical care medicine, and sleep disorders medicine. She continues to practice intensive care medicine. She became a fellow of the American College of Chest Physicians, a Diplomat and member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Read an Excerpt

I returned to Khalaa Tarfa, my first patient in the Kingdom. She was a Bedouin Saudi well into her seventies, though no one could be sure of her age (female births were not certified in Saudi Arabia when she had been born). She was on a respirator for a pneumonia which had been slow to resolve. Comatose, she was oblivious to my studying gaze. A colleague prepared her for the placement of a central line (a major intravenous line into a deep vein).

Her torso was uncovered in anticipation.. Another physician sterilized the berry brown skin with swathes of iodine. A mundane procedure I had performed countless times, in Saudi Arabia it made for a starling scene. I looked up from the sterilized field which was quickly submerging the Bedouin body under a disposable sea of blue. Her face remained enshrouded in a black scarf, as if she was out in a market scurrying through a crowd of loitering men. I was astounded.

Behind the curtain, a family member hovered, the dutiful son. Intermittently, he peered at us . He was obviously worrying, I decided, as I watched his slim brown fingers rapidly manipulating a rosary. He was probably concerned about the insertion of the central line, I thought, just like any other caring family member.

Every now and again, he signaled vigorously, rapidly talking in Arabic to instruct the nurse. I wondered what he was asking about and how he could know if we were at a crucial step in the procedure. Everything was going smoothly; in fact soon the jugular would be cannulated. We were almost finished. What could be troubling him?

Through my dullness, eventually, I noticed a clue. Each time the physician's sleeve touched the patient's veil, and the veil slipped, the son burst out in a flurry of anxiety. Perhaps all of nineteen, the son was instructing the nurse to cover the patient's face, all the while painfully averting his uninitiated gaze away from his mother's fully exposed torso, revealing possibly the first breasts he may have seen.

I wondered about the lengths to which the son continued to veil his mother, even when she was gravely ill. Couldn't he see it was the least important thing for her now at this time, when her life could ebb away at any point? Didn't he know God was Merciful, tolerant and understanding and would never quibble over the wearing of a veil in such circumstances, or I doubted, any circumstances?

Somehow I assumed the veil was mandated by the son, but perhaps I was wrong about that as well. Already, I was finding myself wildly ignorant in this country. Perhaps the patient herself would be furious if her modesty was unveiled when she was powerless to resist. Nothing was clear to me other than veiling was essential, inescapable, even for a dying woman. This was the way of the new world in which I was now confined. For now, and the next two years, I would see many things I couldn't understand. I was now a stranger in the Kingdom.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Bedouin Bedside
Chapter 2: A Time to Leave America
Chapter 3: My New Home, a Military Compound
Chapter 4: Abbayah Shopping
Chapter 5: Invisible and Safe
Chapter 6: Saudi Women Who Dance Alone
Chapter 7: Veiled Doctors
Chapter 8: The Lost Boys of the Kingdom
Chapter 9: A Father's Grieving
Chapter 10: An Invitation to God
Chapter 11: The Epicenter of Islam
Chapter 12: Into the Light
Chapter 13: The Child of God
Chapter 14: The Million-Man Wheel
Chapter 15: Committing Haram
Chapter 16: Calling Doctora
Chapter 17: Daughters of the Desert
Chapter 18: Next Stop: Absolution
Chapter 19: Prayer under the Stars
Chapter 20: Between the Devil and the Red Sea
Chapter 21: Mutawaeen: The Men in Brown
Chapter 22: Single Saudi Male
Chapter 23: The Calm before the Storm
Chapter 24: Wahabi Wrath
Chapter 25: Doctor Zhivago of Arabia
Chapter 26: Love in the Kingdom
Chapter 27: Show Me Your Marriage License!
Chapter 28: An Eye for an Eye
Chapter 29: Princes, Polygamists, and Paupers
Chapter 30: Divorce, Saudi-Style
Chapter 31: The Saudi Divorcée
Chapter 32: Desperate Housewives
Chapter 33: The Making of a Female Saudi Surgeon
Chapter 34: The Hot Mamma
Chapter 35: The Gloria Steinem of Arabia
Chapter 36: Champion of Children
Chapter 37: 9/11 in Saudi Arabia
Chapter 38: Final Moments, Final Days
Afterword: Rugged Glory

Reading Group Guide

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In the Land of Invisible Women 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 139 reviews.
Happy_in_New_Haven More than 1 year ago
I found "In the Land of Invisible Women" absolutely compelling reading. The perspectives of a woman who is a physician, a world traveler, and also deeply religious allowed me views of Saudi Arabia and its women that were intense and memorable. I expect that men readers would find this just as interesting as women readers. As a physician, Dr. Ahmed gives a scientist's-eye-view of life in the Kingdom. As a woman who speaks fluent Arabic, she was welcome in the inner circles of other women and could provide a rich picture of these women's lives and interests as well as their views of the difficulties they face as women in such a stern, difficult society. As a sincere woman of faith, she took me vicariously on her own spiritual journey that, as a non-Muslim, I can never experience directly but as another woman of faith I can relate to intensely. I LOVED this book and recommend it with great enthusiasm.
fantasy_nerd More than 1 year ago
The story of Dr. Ahmed's journey was both fascinating and frustrating. Through her beautiful writing and strong spiritual perspective I learned a lot about Islam. At the same time the culture of Saudi Arabia angered me immensely. Its a country I enjoy reading about but could never live in. It is a book that brings forth conflicting feelings and inspires much thought.
Busso More than 1 year ago
As a practicing American Muslim woman, I am oftentimes skeptical of commentary on the lives of Muslim women, or of Muslims in general. Dr. Qanta Ahmed's eye-opening memoir helped ease some of my concerns on such commentary. I had only known of Arab women's lives from a distance - through television and radio media. Dr. Ahmed's book exposed an intimate look at what it means, for a practicing Muslim woman, to live as a Muslim woman in Saudi Arabia. It is, as is often portrayed, a tough life for Saudi women. Yet the society as a whole is not to blame - this is the genius of the book. So many times you will hear Muslims saying "Muslims are to blame, not Islam" - Dr. Ahmed proved it in this book through the Saudi men and women themselves. She is able to portray Saudi's as an enlightened, patriotic, religious, and progressive people who are struggling to rid the shackles of some decadent societal norms. Another point to consider is that the author is a British born, now American based, physician who is also a Muslim. Dr. Ahmed's narrative is itself proof of not only the possibility, but plausibility of loving co-existence between the West and the Muslim world. I hear the book is being translated - I really can't say I'm surprised!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My best friend and I each purchased this book for our next book club discussion. We each had our own reasons for choosing it - she, because she is staunchly feminist and the title and concept appealed to her; I, because of my intense pull to broaden my cultural horizons. Dr. Ahmed's writing style pulled me in, capturing and holding my attention, as I read about her life-changing decision to practice medicine in the Kingdom. I felt her fury and contempt for the rampant bigotry that exist(ed) during her years there, the anxiousness and butterflies associated with a forbidden school-girl-like crush, and the admiration for the many strong, supportive men and women who fought in their own ways for equality (be it in the ICU, a public restaurant, or by the Ka'aba during Hajj). I am notorious for starting a book and leaving it for weeks or months (yes, at times even years) before returning to finish it, but her vivid style had me turning page after page until, a mere 5 days after starting it, I finished the last sentence. This is truly a captivating piece of literature!
ReadingIsManna More than 1 year ago
Thought provoking. Great for learning and understanding women behind the veil without westernized biased filters.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One of the best books I have read! I really enjoyed reading about Qanta's experiences while she was in the Kingdom. She really didnt hold anything back. I got a new insight on what women experience in Saudi Arabia, and its not necessarily what you would expect.
I would defeinetly recommend it!
Charlotte Gillespie More than 1 year ago
This is a first-person account by Dr. Qanta Ahmed, a female Muslim physician. She spent two years practicing medicine in Saudi Arabia and offers a fascinating view into Saudi society and culture. Agreat read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was wonderful. It was a fun and easy read, but also managed to be insightful and educational. I felt like I got a good personal look into the lives of women in the Kingdom. Well worth the low $7.99 eBook price!!
BATread More than 1 year ago
I love these kinds of books, we live in such an open society that it is interesting to me to see those who are so controlled by the men of their countrys. How these women can live under such barbaric rules and be thought of so little by the men of their country is indeed foreign to us who live in a country where women are treated almost as equals as men, except for maybe in the workplace, is so sad. I love to read these kinds of books. And these women have my sympathy. I thoroughly enjoyed this book at the same time I was appalled at how they are treated.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was an insightful and exceptionally well written book about the beauty and the beastliness of the Islamic faith. Thank God this brilliant author has used her gift of writing as well as her gift of medicine to bring her story to us. She presented a wide eyed portrait of both sides of her religion, the intended practice as she understands it in its beauty and purity as well as the very extreme deviant practice as defined by factions that intend to propogate hatred and dissention. As a devout Christian woman with the heart of a mother, healer and servant, I was moved by her honesty and ability to convey the complexities and opposing dualities of life for all women in the Saudi Kingdom. I was particularly moved by the recounting of her hajj to Mecca. I hope all people of faith, whichever brand they practice, get to experience coming into the real presence of God in as powerful a way as she was able to. This story is about faith, acceptance, defeating ignorance and, hopefully seeing the commonalities in all if our faiths rather than the differences.
franklymydear More than 1 year ago
This book has become somewhat dated as womens freedoms have improved since her stint in the Riyadh hospital but one wonders how much personal attitudes have changed and how much was imposed from the outside. The more interesting parts of this narrative came from the idea that as a darker skinned Muslim doctor, the author apparently thought she would fit in to this culture with more ease than most American Expats. However it appears that her gender and her origins (Pakistani American) significantly overpowered this, and even her more liberal coworkers had significant biases. THe writing is a bit choppy and at times vicious (for instance in the way she describes the physical attributes of people she has less respect for or who have less social standing) which made the book harder to read. But the vignettes are revealing, of the authors admitted weaknesses and those of the people around her. The profound anti Semitism of some of her associates, even after years on fellowship to American and Canadian medical facilities where they worked and socialized with much admired Jewish professors and medical staff was shocking, as was the celebration of the fall of the Two Towers on 9/11 by female OBGyns. Worth reading, but a book by someone who is from the area might be better if you have to choose.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Really enjoyed this informitive story, kept you wanting to know more about this country and the people. Adventurous, disruptive, and couragous women still fighting for some equality in the world.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love the honesty and sincerity of her spiritual journey. The way she writes invites the reader to accompany her. As a committed Christian i appreciate learning more about Islam and the appeal it has for those who follow its tenents. Also appreciate her balance in presenting the disconnects between rhe legal mandates, religious mandates and the actual tenents of her faith.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author surprised me with her spiritual openness and descriptions of the difficulties of living a "double life" in male-dominated Saudi Arabia. At first, I struggled to connect with her. But her hajj is fascinating, and I was hooked after that! Reading the book in a post-9/11 world helped me learn about that far-away land with it's old-world society.
Glori20 More than 1 year ago
A very informative novel giving one insight to the plight of the Muslim women through a professional medicine. Unlike other novels where Muslim women were the main characters, Ahmed, writes in the first person and shares her thoughts as well as the biases that exist between Muslims from different countries and classes. Definitely an education when reading.
klarusu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In 'In the Land of Invisible Women' Qanta Ahmed, an English-born female Muslim doctor, recounts the experiences of her time in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It's a fascinating account that suffers somewhat from a poor writing style. The writing is bad and I found Ahmed's narration patronising - her voice was one of superior tone and it appears that she sets herself above Saudi Muslims, western non-Muslims, anyone who may have a negative opinion about America ... the list is endless. The arrogant tone is particularly evident when she refers to her obvious sense of professional superiority. In passages where she describes herself, particularly around the hospital, the reader is left in no doubt of the high opinion of herself she holds. I found the chapter where she deals with the issue of homosexuality in the Kingdom disturbing in the extreme. She lists a number of contributing factors to the appeasement of an 'uncomfortable libido by seeking acquired homosexual behaviours' - obviously, it couldn't be that they were actually gay, it must have been contributing factors, environmentally acquired homosexuality. At least I will sleep easier at night knowing her 'detection of latent homosexuality was probably accurate'.I also found that she was oddly schizophrenic in her response to veiling: when around westerners, she adopted a superior tone and emphasised the idea of the sense of liberation veiling gave her; when around Saudis, she often adopted a superior tone, asserting her right not to. There are moments where she labours the point of liberation from male attention. When she described how Saudi men attempted to pick up girls, much as she attributed her fear and intimidation to the male attention, I couldn't help but ask myself whether this stemmed from the attention itself or the context of the climate of fear created by the religious police, which she had already demonstrated she was affected by. Nonetheless, this book is a fascinating window onto what it, for me, an alien world. It was an interesting portrait of two vastly different forms of Islam (from multi- and single faith environments). I found it particularly telling that, at the outset, the non-Muslim expats who had been in the Kingdom longer, often appeared more at home than the Muslim narrator. The opening account of a dying woman and the extreme lengths her family went to to make sure that she remained veiled raised the interesting question of whether her rights were being supresses or her dignity upheld - as she was unable to bear witness to this herself, we shall never know.It is evident that there are multiple levels of segregation in the Kingdom: by sex, by nationality and by class with the dichotomy of the uber-rich and the slave class that serves them. Many of the most interesting moments for me were the tales of the ER as these gave insight into the nature of Saudi citizens at their worst moments; these stories were more 'alive' than some of Ahmed's other descriptions. The re-telling of her pilgrimage to Mecca, her Hajj, was absolutely fascinating - a real view of a world I know very little about.In the end, I found Ahmed to be a person who seemed to be conflicted in her sense of national identity. It is telling that in the chapters describing post-9/11 Saudi Arabia, Ahmed finds it quite easy to take an uncritical view of America's role in precipitating the event. Despite being English born, she repeatedly allies herself with America, constantly belabouring the point that she owed America a great deal for her medical training (conveniently failing to give any credit to the British university that gave her her original medical degree). Ultimately, the author's obvious and overriding pro-American voice led me to treat her description of post-9/11 Saudi with a degree of scepticism as, with regards to America, I never got the sense that her writing was particularly balanced. The degree to which she allied herself with America is typified by a des
Kitiria on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I've had this book for ages but since it was a PDF I found it really difficult to read on the computer, I finally was able to borrow an ereader which was way better. I found the story intriging but at times difficult to follow as the writer seem to jump around and I often had difficulty keeping track of who was who. She often contradicted herself in the same chapetr usually having to do with the amount of freedom the Suadi male has. It's definitely worth a read if your interested in finding out how women are treated and see themselves in ther Saudi Kingdom.
habonde on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the Land of Invisible Women, by Qanta A. Ahmed. This book left me with ambiguous feelings. On the one hand, it is a lively and informed description of life in Saudi Arabia, seen through the eyes of a woman who is both a Westerner (by education) and a Muslim. This unique perspective allows the reader to travel with her in a country that seems both modern and archaic, and to understand better both the manifestations of this situation and the reasons behind it ¿ come to mind the explanations about the recent history of the country, and the mutations in the Saudi way of life. In the same vein, the contrast between her understanding of her faith, and the way it is understood and applied in this country, is also interesting, and will probably help Westerners to understand better that this religion is far less monolithic than it may seem from afar. On the other hand, some of the characterisations seemed to me, if not quite unidimensional, at least marked by such an obvious goodwill that they became less realistic. Does this aspect indicate a kind of self censure ¿ a misguided attempt to compensate for the more critical aspects of her description, perhaps? If that's the case, there was no need: the construction of the narrative, the standpoint of the narrator itself, and her empathetic perspective, provided by themselves balance enough between the different aspects of the book.
PhaedraB on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received this book two years ago through Early Reviewers, but didn't read it till now, partially because of issues with the e-book format, and partially because I thought it would be drier, more reportorial or academic. It is in fact a very personal memoir by a Muslim woman, a Pakistani-born, American-trained female physician, about her two-year stay in Saudi Arabia. It was not dry; in fact, once I started reading it I was quite entranced.The book gives a remarkable portrait of a relatively naive woman--naive in the sense that she did practically no homework on the country before moving there--encountering the limits that state-sponsored, fanatical religious observance put on her life. As a Muslim, she assumed she would fit in to a Muslim country, but instead found it to be a very foreign world, indeed.As fascinating as I found her tale, the book has drawbacks that better editing could have prevented. She does not tell us enough at the beginning of the book who she is, nor provide a time frame for her reminisces. I knew she was a doctor, and that her American visa was not renewed when she expected it to be, but only in later chapters could I piece together that she was a Pakistani British citizen. She has the same problem presenting the time frame; it is the late nineties, pre-9/11, a salient fact that is not explained early enough in her narrative. She presents her story informally in a series of portraits of the women and men she meets, both Saudi and ex-pats, who are coping with the unusual restrictions of life in Riyadh. Most movingly, she describes also her deepening understanding of her own religious heritage, especially during her impulsively-taken Hajj pilgrimage.Near the end of the book she tells of her struggles as a Westernized woman, a former resident of New York City, during the 9/11 attacks. As with so many other experiences of her experiences in the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia], much of what she thought she knew about the Saudis and her co-religionists from other nations fell away.I would recommend the book, even with its flaws, as a compelling portrait of a world few foreigners can ever penetrate.
karenlisa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the Land of Invisible Women By Qanta A. Ahmed, M.D. Dr. Ahmed is denied a renewal of her US visa where she has studied an dpracticed medicine fo rthe past few years. Of Pakistani descent and raised in England, Qanta is quite the woman of the world. This memoir is written about her life at 31, when she accepts an opportunity to work in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The facility is high tech, many of the physicians are U.S. trained and she is looking forward to the exciting adventure of working in this part of the world. Dr. Ahmed is pleased, surprised, apalled and shocked by the many diversities she discovers in this land where one side of the road you may see a camel and the next moment a porsche zooms on by! She rediscovers her muslim identity and makes a Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, a once in a lifetime dream. She makes many friends from around the world and learns to work in this extreme environment. In the hospital she is intelligient, outspoken, confident physician saving lives and in the streets she must be covered head to toe and watch very carefully what she says, whom she is with and where she goes. The differences of many worlds clashing together is both a learning process and frustrating experience. Excellent memoir and insight into another country, another world and a brilliant young womans mind.
VivienneR on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This lengthy book is not a story as such, but a series of experiences; essays describing the author¿s stay in Saudi Arabia. As a result of the format there is some duplication of details. A very long section relating a pilgrimage to Mecca was long enough to have been published as a separate work. The narrative, in the early chapters especially, does not flow easily, sounds somewhat stilted, and includes many passages of purple prose. Tighter writing would have produced a book that comes across as more spontaneous, candid, and less pretentious.I found the author¿s sympathy with Saudi men hard to understand considering their oppression toward women. In places prejudice was viewed as if it merely amounted to dainty Victorian-style manners. Repeated remarks about ultra-expensive brand names gave a shallow, materialistic quality throughout. (Yes, I know Saudis are incredibly rich but can you really identify Graff diamonds from any other ¿ and under a black muslin veil to boot?) The overall impression I got from Ahmed¿s book was not complimentary.
UnadornedBook on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In the Land of Invisible Women is a bold and honest look at, what some may consider, radical Islam through Western eyes. Ms. Ahmed guides the reader through the complicated dichotomy which is Saudi Arabia. She sheds light on the beauty of what is supposed to be true Islam and also on the sad and ugly creation into which many have twisted its path. But mostly she speaks for the many silenced women and the daily issues they face-veiling, marriage, lack of access to education and singular travel, the illegality of driving.Books like In the Land of Invisible Women make me wish this site wasn't "unadorned." There is so much I could say; this book covered a broad spectrum of topics. It was oftentimes quite fascinating and the author did a very good job of explaining her often contradictory experiences. I especially enjoyed the account of her Hajj. In this post 9-11 world it was wonderful for someone to showcase the goodness behind Islam. It also warmed my heart to read of the progress Saudi Arabia has made in correcting their societal inequities. Though I feel it's important to note that all the author experienced is, unfortunately, considered mild in many parts of the Arab world. Hopefully this new Saudi Arabia will positively influence those around them.My only two complaints are these. Ms. Ahmed really likes adjectives, I sometimes found the prolific use of them distracting...not to mention the author is very well educated and I had to look up many of these adjectives, the dictionary was my friend. Also, while reading, I sometimes felt a slight emotional disconnect between the author and her friends. I don't know if this was me, the author's writing style or a testament to the guarded nature of life in the Saudi Kingdom. Whatever it was, it did not diminish this book, it was fascinating and incredibly enlightening. I highly recommend In the Land of Invisible Women.
psocoptera on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I received this book as an early reviewer pdf file and I read it while ill at a medical conference in Chicago last year. I should have reviewed it then, because it made a very strong impression on me. Far from being the expected scathing commentary about the human rights abuses of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Dr. Ahmed's book reads like the diary of an earnestly optimistic young woman who is struggling to maintain equilibrium in very different environment. Her comments often reminded me of a dear friend who, after an ominous visit from the FBI, told me that one of the agents had very masculine hands. Dr. Ahmed, like that friend, does not seem to view the people with the same world weary cynicism that the rest of us have acquired. As a result, she sees things that we would miss. Her experience as a visiting female doctor in Saudi Arabia is fairly unique and well worth writing about, but her personal viewpoint, as an individual who sees potential and goodness where others do not, is what makes this book worth reading.One minor thing that confused me, however, was her unerring ability to tell what brand of clothing people were wearing. Outside of a page six reporter, I am not sure that I have met anyone, particularly physicians, who can actually do this as consistently as she did in this book. This occasionally led to amusing mental images of a young doctor appearing at social gatherings with a reporter's notepad asking everyone, red carpet style, who they are wearing.
UrbanRam on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is very uneven and would benefit from some serious editorial attention. The style sometimes attempts self-consciously to be 'literary', and even allowing for the fact it is aimed at the American market, there are some strange turns of phrase employed. The constant references to designer labels and premium brands are a lazy form of description and assume a common interest in high-ticket price consumerism.These concerns aside, Ahmed gives a surprisingly vivid and accessible glimpse of what life in Saudi Arabia was like at the end of the 20th century and in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. While the book will appeal more to women than men, it seems clear that the only way for a Westerner to begin to understand Saudi culture is through the eyes and experiences of women. At its best, the book portrays warm and engaging characters who are well rounded and frequently betray any stereotypes that might be assumed by the reader.The book contains a thorough if personal critique of Islam from the perspective of one of its adherents, and does much to encourage an understanding of moderate Islam. The author's own religious experience brings an emotional and spiritual depth to her faith which is challenging to those of us who tend to see Islam as a rather dry and legalistic religion.One hopes that this book will encourage Westerners of whatever religious background to engage with their Muslim neighbours and colleagues, and that greater understanding and acceptance will result on both sides.Despite the reservations I have about some aspects of this book, I would recommend everyone to read it so they can appreciate that Islam comprises a wide range of beliefs and practices, most of which are moderate, compassionate and inculcate values many of us share.
Mrs.Stansbury on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Having read other books looking at the lives of women in Arab countries I especially enjoyed "In the Land of Invisible Women: A Female Doctor's Journey in the Saudi Kingdom." Ahmed shares her experiences in Saudi Arabia through western eyes comparing what she learns and sees to western views. With the questioning skills of an insightful reporter Ahmed probes to discover understanding in the culture of her co-workers. She relates her own immersion into Islam, her pilgrimage to Mecca, and compares Quran teachings with Saudi laws and practices. After reading this book I have a new curiosity about Islam and new respect for those who are Muslim. Ahmed delivers a memoir all people who want to advance human rights should read.