Author(s): Kristiane Backer
Report Published: 14th June 2016
Quake Book Bonus: Interview with Kristiane
From MTV to Mecca is the sincere and oftentimes heart rendering, autobiographical account of Kristiane Backer’s journey into Islam, her hard-fought reconciliation between Eastern tradition and her identity as a professional European woman, who prior to embracing her religion, found fame and fortune working in mainstream media.
With its breath-taking descriptions of Pakistan’s plains, the glitz and glamour of show business, to the lonely despair of a broken woman desperate to save her marriage, Backer’s story is a warts and all tale that stirs up emotion as much as it educates as to the need for oneness, openness and dialogue in an increasingly divided world.
The book is thus a rare, if not unique look into the chasm that exists within the Muslim world and between it. In more ways then one, Kristiane’s autobiography represents the personal struggle and tensions that endure for a devoted European follower of Islam, who desires for nothing more but a bridge between the East and West.
In short, From MTV to Mecca is not just for those QUAKE Book Agents intrigued as to why a widely successful woman would sacrifice her fame, fortune and reputation, in the service of a greater calling, but for ALL women everywhere who are themselves soul-searching and contemplating an existence that goes above and beyond a 9 to 5 job, shopping malls and raising children.
“Does it matter if people fast for the sake of God in Ramadan, Yom Kippur or Lent? Surely, that fasting is considered an essential path to God in all religions is an indication of shared values.”
“Once again I realised that when faith went hand-in-hand with learning and a desire to look beyond one’s own horizons, it was a perfect antidote to violence and extremism.”
“Regardless of what people said about the perceived subjugation of women in Muslim cultures, the western world’s way of objectifying women was undeniably an insult to their dignity and a form of exploitation.”
It was strange to recognise elements of Kristiane’s story within my own, even down to the streets, mosques and bookshops we frequent in London. Given how rare it is for a white western European to fully embrace Islam, I guess hadn’t come across anything similar.
The bookquake itself was twofold. First I was struck by her absolutely determined and unrelenting dedication to follow the heart of God, no matter the difficulty or personal cost (which incidentally was extremely high). And second, I was challenged to consider how hard it can be for a Muslim woman to be both protected and enabled by her belief in God and the prophets, whilst patriarchal viewpoints and attitudes (from the East as well as West) prevail and present obstacles to women’s progress, rights and happiness. In that respect, From MTV to Mecca was a much needed wake-up call for me, both as an adherent to Islam and as a father. It is, also the reason why I promised Kristiane in our interview that I would do everything I could to get her message out there.
A small aftershock will undoubtedly be my new found appreciation of Islamic poetry. A more significant one involves my parenting skills and responsibilities. My daughter, who is Chilean and wears a hijab (her choice I am pleased to say, not my forcing), will be visiting me for Eid 2016 and her 11th birthday. Her visit has coincided perfectly with my reading of this book and I will subsequently dedicate the necessary time to talk to her about marriage and the role I have as her father to ensure that her future husband will protect and promote her in a way that is coherent with the Quran but which does not deny her the right to enjoy a western identity.
I am sure that if Kristiane’s father had been Muslim, certain mistakes, pain and anguish (including the burning of photographs – when you read her book you will understand) could have been avoided. I thus thank Kristiane for helping me to realise this issue and for the opportunity to rectify any mistakes before they become a reality.