Every once in a while, I read the writings of someone who makes my mind sing. Those intriguing luminaries that introduce me to ideas and issues I never before considered. Or those special folks who seem to take my scrabbled thoughts on an issue and package erudite responses complete with 5 point plans.
I call these special people my nerd crushes.
At the top of my summer reading list is Isobel Coleman’s latest book, Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women Are Transforming the Middle East. It is transformative. And I am falling hard for this brilliant woman.
Isobel Coleman is senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at the Council on Foreign Relations and director of the Council’s Women and Foreign Policy program. Her areas of expertise include political and economic development in the Middle East, regional gender issues, educational reform, and microfinance. In Paradise, Isobel (we are on a first name basis in my heart) unpacks a vision for the Middle East of the next century with women and equality at its core. She presents an overview of the arguments Islamic Feminists—both men and women—who have written and organized extensively around the concept that, fundamentally, Islam is radically egalitarian. And that it is the centuries old misinterpretation of the Quran by patriarchal leaders that have resulted in the modern crisis in the Islamic state.
Read it. You will develop a crush too. And before long you will find yourself humming…two tickets to Paradise…