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"I just wanted to leave London, leave the West and live in a Muslim country, where I thought Islam would be more visible. In reality, the Muslim world is not what utopists like me can imagine. It is at once sweet and sour. Sometimes it exceeds our expectations and other times it upsets us. It can envelop us with love and beatitude, only to treat us harshly in the next moment. The fall is painful. But you get up and love is not lost. You can’t really blame it on anybody. It’s the nature of this world to give and take. Allah, Most High, has given me the best of gifts by sending me to a protected place where I can study my religion from morning to night without any material distraction – which I had longed for since my conversion."

In Pearls from the Skies of Tarim, Maryam Szkudlarek provides an honest and touching account of her experiences in the unique town of Tarim, located in the Valley of Hadhramaut, south Yemen during her stay between 2013 and 2015. In an intriguing compilation of diary excerpts, the author brings to life the daily gatherings of knowledge and spiritual remembrance at the Islamic Women’s Institute of Dar az- Zahra, a traditional institution for Islamic learning. A thoughtful and honest account, the book describes in vivid detail the author’s experiences concerning a range of issues, from the education of children, roles of women and men, relations between Muslims of different ethnicities, health, food and the environment, to how Islamic perspectives and attitudes can both differ and resonate with Western values. She immerses the reader in her daily life, inviting them to reflect numerous times on their own relationship with the world and their own self.

Born in 1988 in Paris, Maryam Szkudlarek converted to Islam in London in 2011, and then decided to devote her time to the study of Islam and the Arabic language. On the advice of one of her teachers, she first spent two and a half years in Yemen in Dar az-Zahra of Tarim before moving to Jordan where she continued her studies at various institutes in Amman including Qasid. She then lived in the United Arab Emirates, where she taught Arabic to women and children before returning to live in Jordan and study at The World Islamic Sciences and Education University in Amman.



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