Tuesday, August 18, 2009

This week’s featured author – Tahir Shah

Tahir Shah hails from a distinguished Afghan family, but was brought up in England and is the author of more than a dozen books and several documentary films. Shah is the son of well-known Sufi teacher, poet and writer Idries Shah and his paternal great-grandfather was the nawab of Sardhana in UP, India.

Growing up, Shah was greatly influenced by the teachings of his father, who drummed into him that education was about much more than attending school and that his quest for knowlegde was something that he should continue until death. Prevented from returning to his native country by the Taliban regime, Idries Shah took his family to Morocco each year for holidays and the young Tahir became besotted by the mystery and spirituality of the country, with its rich culture and traditions.

As a young man, Shah became a successful journalist, travelling to far-off countries, reporting on women’s issues. It was then that he decided to move full-time into writing books and travelogues about far-off lands. His travels took him to India, the Middle East, Africa and South America. Tired of living in London, Shah decided to move with his wife and two young children to Morocco in 2003. He purchased a grand but derelict house in the middle of a Casablanca shantytown called Dar Khalifa (the Caliph’s House) with the intention of restoring the ancient dwelling to its former glory.

In July 2005, while making a documentary, Shah and two colleagues were arrested and detained by Pakistani security police in Peshawar. They were held without charge and interrogated for sixteen days. Upon their release, the Pakistani government admitted Shah and his colleagues had done nothing wrong. Despite the experience, Shah still retains a deep affection for Pakistan and is passionate about bridging the divide between East and West.

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