Yesterday I referenced a refreshing book by Omar Saif Gohbash, ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Russia. One of his primary messages is that the violence perpetrated in the name of radical, fundamentalist Islam can be traced to the self-limting fantasies of deeply unhappy people, and that fellow Muslims should hold these individuals accountable for the havoc they have wrought. Ambassador Ghobash counts himself among those children raised with a rigid worldview that loses its validity with maturation.
I noted the hidden gem of a chapter on Ambassador Ghobash’s personal library and his passion for books, and its universalism begs to be quoted:
“Whenever friends or guests come over to our house, I like to show them the library. I am not entirely sure why. In some ways it is a very private place. It is like a window to my mind. If you look at the books on the shelves, and piled up on the table, you can get an idea of what I like to think about … I have all kinds of books there, from the Talmud in Hebrew and Arabic to the Quran in many languages; from books on Western philosophy to the advance mathematics textbooks I bought in the hopes of gaining a deeper understanding of all those wonderful squiggles that add up to to mathematical knowledge.
… Private libraries are a luxury. My library is a true luxury and privilege. I know that the world’s information is now available online. This was an argument people used and continue to use against physical libraries with physical books … There is also an important aspect to the presence of a book which you can feel and smell and write notes all over. The physical book can, if you spend enough time with it, becomes a physical-intellectual extension of yourself.
I like few things better than to mark my books with ink. I love to scribble in the margins. I review these notes over the years, and from the style in which I wrote, I can tell if I was excited or tired, angry or calm. These are important signals for the memory. It places the page in a context of emotion and ideas.”