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Mann, M. (2010). Self and Secrecy in Early Islam By Ruqayya Yasmine Khan Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2008. Int. J. Appl. Psychoanal. Stud., 7(3):240-242.

(2010). International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 7(3):240-242

Self and Secrecy in Early Islam By Ruqayya Yasmine Khan Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press, 2008

Review by:
Mali Mann, M.D.

Examining the cultural context of human experience is an important aspect in understanding behavior, emotion, and interaction. The development of language, the impact of education, and the beliefs associated with religion help to mold the individual's character and become a part of the whole core self or personhood. Thus Ruqayya Khan's book Self and Secrecy in Early Islam is an important contribution to our understanding of Islam's impact on individual experience, the development of a practicing Muslim, and his or her religious identity and affiliation.

Khan invites us to further our psychoanalytic understanding of the dynamic tension between secrecy, revelation, and identity formation of Muslim individuals. She does a comparative analysis about the importance of self identity and the concept of secrecy in Arab Muslim life. She maintains that secrecy is embedded in the core of interpersonal relations. She examines the significance of keeping and revealing secrets in early Islamic culture, using a variety of texts to explore the concepts of secrecy and identity. She describes individual identity as part of a psychological link between secrecy and revelation; and this connection is even more important than the facts or feelings that are being obscured or revealed. She claims that secrecy and identity mark boundaries for interpersonal relations when they are governed by the cultural norm of discretion set forth in the texts she examines as evidence. These include religious and literary writing about secrecy in diverse classical works - the Qur'an, the Book of Concealing the Secret and Holding the Tongue by al-Jahiz, and courtly love poems like the story of Majnun and Layla.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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