Journey Through Change

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Congratulations to TIME for its Summer Journey issue, "Travels Through Islam" [Aug. 1-8]. The articles were like taking a cultural vacation.
Reimon Bachika, KOBE, JAPAN

This special report is one of the best TIME has produced during my more than 45 years' subscription.

I picked up my copy of TIME, and my first thought was, "Ibn Battuta — who's he?" Well, I soon found out, and what a wonderful journey I made following his footsteps. Every article was well documented and interesting. This type of thought-provoking journalism is what makes TIME magazine stand out from the others.
Dale Crump, PARIS

In your special on Ibn Battuta, you rightly stated that even though he traveled more widely than Marco Polo and others, he has not been accorded the prominence he deserves. I first learned about Ibn Battuta and his travels in West Africa as a young student in Nigeria, but your issue made it clear just how far and widely he traveled.

Thank you for a comprehensive insight into today's evolving Muslim world and where it's headed. As a liberal, I think the easiest way to discern the direction of the Arab Spring is to see what will happen to 50% of the population — the women — of each country. If they attain freedom and civil rights, we will applaud.

Islam's Global Identity
Your special issue offered a welcome breath of fresh air to help clear the awful Islamophobia of recent years. Reza Aslan's analysis of Ibn Battuta's travels and writings is one of the most astute I have read [World Wanderer, Aug. 1-8]. His focus on Islam as a globalizing agent is both powerful and apt since, even in today's world, Islam is the glue that holds our ethnically and racially diverse ummah together. Sadly, Aslan is also right in saying that the halcyon days of great Islamic contributions to science, trade, mathematics and architecture have been eroded by colonialism, imperialism, corruption and civil strife. One could also add dictatorships as the cause for the current stagnation and as a major contributory factor to the fragmentation of the Muslim world. Young Arabs are currently rising against their oppressors, and I wish them the very best in their endeavor to create a new world for themselves.

I thoroughly enjoyed this special issue, a snapshot of change in the Islamic world told through fabulous images and stories. Having been born and raised in the Middle East, I feel some sense of connection to the land. I'm also reminded of the hypocrisies that continue to exist. Aryn Baker's "In Pursuit of Romance" raised the contradictory and conservative Islamic rules around love and marriage that I hadn't paid attention to before, while a quote from a pirate in Alex Perry's "Somalia's Sea Wolves" ("When I want a woman, I give her money and she becomes my mistress") shows who is not spoken for in a failed state: women and children.

Talking about Islam while limiting it only to the Middle East, Europe and Africa does not illustrate the broader change and challenges of the Islamic world today. As the world's third largest democracy, with the world's biggest Muslim population, Indonesia should have been mentioned by TIME (as Ibn Battuta did in his travelogue). So should other predominantly Muslim countries in Southeast Asia, such as Malaysia and Brunei.
Endah T. D. Retnoastuti, JAKARTA

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