‘The Accidental Theologist’


Hello & Welcome back Book Lovers.   blog

It’s been a while and we apologize for it.

Hope you reading a lot of books these days.

Today we have a very intriguing and curious psychologist turned reporter turned theologist turned writer with us.

Meet Award winning writer, Lesley Hazleton  who has spent more than 10 years of her life staying in the Middle East, covering stories on politics, religion and history of the country.

She is an agnostic and has written extensively on Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

Anyone who meets Lezley will tell you that that she is confident, articulate and a classy style diva.

Her previous works include detailed stories of Israeli women, A memoir of Jerusalem, Mother Mary, Jezebel, Shia Shunni Split. Her in-depth narrative, coherent writing and archaic facts is what keeps one glued to her books. She started researching and writing on various religions during her stay in the Middle East.

Her new book “The First Muslim” examines the narrative account of Prophet Muhammad in his formative years and how he rose to power. She describes him as a complex man with varying notions on politics and faith.

‘The First Muslim’ is also on The Crossword Bestseller list.

She currently stays in Seattle and spends gloomy evenings working on her next project, you can also know more about her from her blog .wwww.theaccidentaltheologist.com

Read an extract of her interview with us..

 

1.         A lot of Biographies have been written on Prophet Muhammad and on  his life and teachings…what made you delve  into his life further?

Basically, frustration!   I’d read many modern biographies of him, but either they seemed overly timid, as though tip-toeing through his life, or they were devotional hagiographies.  Either way, they had a soporific effect on me, and this seemed utterly wrong;  how could anyone do that to such a dramatic life?   Muhammad carved a huge profile in history, and yet the more I read, the less I seemed to have any real sense of who he actually was.  I wanted to do justice to a remarkable story – to accord him the integrity of reality, of a full life lived.  And sure enough, the deeper I went, the more complex and interesting he became.

 

2.         You have also written on the whole divide between the strongest Muslim communities ‘Shia and Sunni Muslims’ which is a strong intense war even today..Do you think the basis of this laid the foundations during Prophet Muhammad’s era?

It did.  My previous book, After the Prophet, explores this.  In a sense, the split began at the moment of Muhammad’s death, though the roots of it reach back into his lifetime.  It’s an intensely human story – a tragedy of epic dimensions that spans three generations of Muhammad’s family and the first fifty years of Islam.  And it goes deep to issues that still haunt us:  pragmatism and idealism, faith and politics, power and powerlessness.  Sometimes I imagine that if the story had only been better known, the US would never have been so foolish as to have invaded Iraq, which is precisely where the Sunni-Shia split crystallized.  But I know that’s probably just wishful thinking

 

3. For writing any kind of extensive biography you would have to spend huge hours in researching and checking every facts that must have come along.. tell us about your difficult  days spent on writing this book?

In a sense, I was living a kind of dual existence:  I’d wake every morning in misty Seattle to people and events half the world and almost half of history away, in seventh-century Arabia.  Yes, it was difficult – not least because I was aware of how intensely The First Muslim would be scrutinized, especially since I am an agnostic Jew, not a believing Muslim.  But it was also a joy.  To live in two worlds at once, the Pacific Northwest and the not-so-pacific Middle East?  To keep daily company with a prophet and bring a remarkable life to life?  This is a writer’s privilege.

 

4. Care to tell  the readers more about the sacred relationship between Muhammad and his first wife Khadija..

Islamophobes love to paint Muhammad as a lecherous polygamist, thus betraying nothing but their own ignorance (and their lascivious imagination).  Muhammad and Khadija were in a loving, caring, monogamous marriage for 24 years until her death, when he was still struggling for acceptance of his message.  In late life, he married nine other wives – diplomatic marriages, as all leaders of the time made – but it’s clear that he mourned Khadija until the day of his own death.

 

5.         You have stayed in the Middle East for more than 10 years.. where women are treated as  inferiors and the status never seems to change for the longest time right through Islam and women don’t have a say at all .Do you think we will see changing times soon for women in the Middle east?

I think this change is inevitable.  After all, the Quran, unlike the Bible, goes to great pains to include women.  It won’t happen overnight, just as revolution doesn’t happen overnight (or in a single season, per the journalistic meme of “the Arab spring”), but more and more strong women’s voices are emerging both in the Middle East and in other Muslim countries.

 

6.         We always see a whole debate where in the West, Islam as a religion is now being considered very negative, extremist and as a religion disliked by the West due to the Jihad wars and terrorists acts committed in the name of jihad. Any views on how this opinions of Islam as an extremist religion can be changed and Did Muhammad actually preach Jihad the way it has been preached by militant Islamist groups.

There have been dozens of fatwas by leading Islamic scholars saying in the strongest terms that slaughtering civilians in the name of God is an obscene travesty of Islam.  In the Quran, jihad specifically refers to the struggle to lead a good life “in the path of God,” not to armed conflict.  The interpretation of jihad as warfare only came into being three centuries after Muhammad’s death, and while I certainly can’t speak for him, I’m pretty sure that if he could see what was being preached in his name by violent extremists, he’d be the first to stand against them and call them out as murderers.

 

7. All your books are so detailed, factual, gripping. What can we expect next from you?

Well, talking of gripping, I think it’s time for me to come to grips with my own agnosticism, so I’m working on a kind of agnostic manifesto.  I’m enjoying the luxury of writing again in the first person – there’s great freedom in that – and of exploring (and challenging) my own thinking.

 

8. Apart from being an Accidental Theologist, tell us some of your quirks?

Off the top of my head:

— a love of paradox

— an ability to eat six dozen oysters at a time

— a weakness for knee-high suede boots

 

9. Authors you admire?

Let’s just start with Graham Greene, Peter Matthiessen, Virginia Woolf, Joan Didion…

 

10. Types of books you dislike reading

— books with lazy, clichéd language (alas, most popular fiction)

— books that fail to spark my imagination (alas, most academic writing)

— books that are self-serving (like too many political autobiographies)

 

11.       Books you can’t put down

I seem to be very good at putting down books described as “un-put-downable” (I fell asleep a few pages into The Da Vinci Code).  Books I really can’t put down are books I read for a second, even a third time.   Right now that’s Richard Rodriguez’ new book Darling.  It’s subtitled “a spiritual autobiography” but I’m glad to say it’s not – it’s something far more intricate and supple, and I love the way his mind works.

 

12. You have travelled the world over, your favourite country/destination?

Places I keep secret!  Untouched, magical places.  A hidden saltwater lagoon in the San Juan islands;  a hot spring coming out of the rock in the mountains north of Guadalajara;  a sage-scented wadi deep in the Sinai desert – these and others are places where I have sat quietly for hours at a time, and I am still grateful for their existence.  I’m not religious, but as Laurens van der Post once wrote, “an amen to such places.”

 

Price: Rs 599

Published by Atlantic Books

Represented & Distributed exclusively by Penguin Books India

Available on www.crossword.in and at a Crossword store near you.

 

Signing off for now

 

 Until next time Geeks.

 

 And don’t forget to drop in your comments.

 

 For details and queries write to crosswordconnect@gmail.com

 

 Happy Reading!

 

 Crossword Bookstores

Advertisements

‘Jugaad’ The Indian Way of Life


Jugaad is a word most commonly heard in India. It implies quick fix solution to any problem. It is a common phenomenon observe on the streets of India in small ways like fixing things with safety pins, turning cycles into a mobile shop of necessities, selling clothes by displaying it on the trees and many more..

A new book on the block ‘ Jugaad Innovation’ talks about how jugaad can help you find great solution to problems and can turn any adversity into an opportunity.

The 3 authors, Navi Radjou, Jaideep Prabhu, Simone Ahuja, talk about this phenomena that is helping MNC’s to develop breakthrough paths to grow in this competitive market.

A little more on about this dynamic trio:

Navi Radjou is an innovation and leadership strategist based in Silicon Valley. He is also a World Economic Forum faculty member. He advises C-level executives worldwide on breakthrough growth strategies. Navi is also writing a book on new models of leadership.

Jaideep Prabhu is the Jawaharlal Nehru Professor of Indian Business and Enterprise at Judge Business School, University of Cambridge. He has taught executives from ABN Amro, Bertelsmann, BP, BT, IBM, ING Bank, Nokia, Philips, Roche, Shell, Vodafone, and Xerox.

Simone Ahuja is the founder and principal of Blood Orange, a marketing and strategy consultancy with expertise in innovation and emerging markets. She regularly presents and consults to Fortune 500 companies across sectors, and contributes to a Harvard Business Review blog.

We got chatty with the trio and they had a lot to say to us on this topic which is widely growing and sweeping through companies. Here’s a look at what they had to say.

 

Today, global companies are talking about Jugaad as an effective approach to innovation. Meanwhile, jugaad is practiced in all Indian homes on a daily Basis, without giving it a second thought. What are some of the lessons that multinationals can learn from simple Indian households?

This is a great question.  It is exactly because jugaad and the jugaad mindset is so inherent in Indians that Indians are well poised to apply the principles of jugaad to business practices.  While jugaad can refer to quick fixes and low cost solutions, such as using a 2L Pepsi bottle to store pulses, use as a planter, a showerhead or even as chappals, it’s also a very important mindset.  The frugality and the flexible rather than linear approach to problem solving exhibited in many Indian households is a highly effective one that companies can and must learn to augment structured innovation processes and to grow, particularly in times of economic volatility.  Moreover, jugaad innovation is a great complement to more structured innovation processes, which leads to the creation of scale.

One of your favorite stories or ideas that you came across while writing this book?

There are so many outstanding and inspiring stories of jugaad innovation, particularly grassroots examples.  One of those SELCO, founded by Harish Hande, a company that destroyed the myth, that the poor cannot afford and maintain clean technology.  SELCO distributes solar energy to more than 200,000 rural households across India.  For us he epitomizes the frugal, flexible and inclusive mindset of a jugaad innovator.  First, he bootstrapped his venture with very limited resources and iterated on his model until he found one that works for him – ultimately, a highly innovative system of grassroots entrepreneurs who buy solar light and rent and distribute them on a daily basis.  He added tremendous value not only for the communities he served, but also for the micro-entrepreneurs with whom he partnered which in turn sustained his own business model.

Another important finding that emerged while researching for and writing this book is that jugaad is not unique to India.  In fact, similar approaches to innovation exist in many emerging markets including Brazil where it’s called jeitinho and China, where it’s called zizhu xuangxin – and even in the US, particularly among Generation Y and entrepreneurs, where there’s a growing DIY or do-it-yourself movement building that also calls for a frugal, flexbile and inclusive approach to problem solving.

Name 2 good companies practicing jugaad and how?

The Tata group is an example of an Indian company that practices jugaad. The Tata Nano is an outstanding example of the application of the principles of flexibility, frugality and inclusivity that are the hallmark of the jugaad mindset. So too with the Tata Swach. GE Healthcare is an example of a Western multinational that practices jugaad in India and elsewhere. The company used jugaad principles to develop a range of low cost ECG machines in India that it has also sold in other emerging markets as well as the West.

Before writing this book did you read any books on jugaad?

While we hadn’t read other books on jugaad, we conducted interviews with hundreds of grassroots entrepreneurs, corporate leaders and others in India to really understand the essence of jugaad.  Interestingly, we found it means different things to different people depending on geographic region and socio-economic status, etc.  We took all of these insights and distilled them into a definition of jugaad that underlines the best of it – a frugal, flexible and inclusive approach to problem solving and innovation.  In a sense, it is an amelioration like “hacking”, which at one time had a negative connotation and now has found its way into the business lexicon with many corporations conducting hackathons to find solutions to problems.  In this same way, we have extracted the best of jugaad since so many principles of jugaad innovation can benefit society at large.

Any tips on how can a startup company initiate and practice jugaad right from day one?

Startup companies (and the entrepreneurs that lead them) are the very epitome of jugaad. Our book and its principles are inspired by such companies and individuals. So for us to be telling startups how to apply jugaad would be a bit like us teaching fish how to swim! That said: two main principles of jugaad that are useful to startups are: 1) always look to get more with less (i.e., be frugal) and 2) always look to challenge conventional wisdom and look for non-linear solutions to problems (i.e., be flexible).

What made the 3 of you collaborate on such a project?

All three of us have unique perspectives that complemented our background and academic research for this book.  It began with ethnographic research for a film series that Simone’s company, Blood Orange, was creating for a corporate client who wanted to better understand innovation in emerging markets and how it may be relevant in the West.  For the series, Simone brought in Navi, then an analyst at Forrester whose focus was innovation and emerging markets, as an innovation consultant for the series.  Ultimately, Navi left Forrester to work with Jaideep, a marketing professor at the University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School, who was heading the Centre for India & Global Business there.  Navi later brought Simone in as a consultant for the Centre.  Much of our respective work was done separately, but with common themes particularly around innovation and emerging markets so it made sense for us to bring our interests and information together in a book like Jugaad Innovation.

 Would the 3 of you be collaborating in the future also?

Absolutely. The three of us continue to write articles on the subject of jugaad innovation and frugal innovation for the Harvard Business Review blog and publications like Fast Company, BusinessWeek as well as many newspapers in India and the US.  We also pursue individual study of jugaad based on our professional backgrounds, and share these learnings with each other.  We won’t say yet whether a Jugaad Innovation sequel is in the works, but there certainly is a lot more ground to cover around this subject!

Publisher: Random House India

Price: Rs 499

 

Signing Off For Now..

 

Until Next Time Geeks..

 

Happy Reading!

 

Crossword Bookstores

A Certified Book Worm


Welcome To The Crossword Blog.

Your One and only Official Guide into the Magical World of Books.

All certified Geeks, Bookworms, Book lovers, Authors, Publishers or even Book Haters also or any body and everybody who just simply loves a good book are welcome here.

With this Blog Crossword aims to enlight you on the different genres of books, Popular Books, Not so Popular Books, Good To read Books, Inspirational Books, Magical Books and  Much More..

We also want you  to get to know your favorite  authors interact with them or distract them. Know their favourite books, Likes, Dislikes & what inspires them to write.

We provide an inside sneak peak into these Master Storytellers and their Infamous lives.

To sum It all To Our Dear Readers..watch out this blog for Updates on Book News, Author News & Info.

You Can also get a chance to become  a Guest Blogger or a Certified Crossword Geek Blogger with us who can Interview Authors, review Books for our Book Lovers and much more.. for this you can write to crosswordconnect@gmail.com

Here’s  Leaving you with a sneak Peak Of Ashwin Sanghi’s Upcoming Book ‘The Krishna Key’..

 

Signing off for now Untill Next Time Geeks.

Happy Reading!!

Crossword Bookstores.