Black Wave | Kim Ghattas | Book Review

Black Wave by Kim Ghattas

What happened to us? The question haunts us in the Arab and Muslim world. We repeat it like a Mantra. You will hear it from Iran to Syria, from Saudi Arabia to Pakistan and Lebanon. For us the past is a different country wise. One how it’s not mired in the horror of sectarian killings. It was a more vibrant place, without the crushing intolerance of religious zealots and seemingly endless, amorphous wars. Black Wave starts here for anyone who is not content with the present situation.


It’s indeed a tempting invitation to explore how and why things got so out of hand. Black Wave first takes you to the old golden era when Tehran was bursting with art and culture. Where Baghdad was the centre of fine arts. When Egypt was a place where progressive people lived. Lebanon was vibrant and full of promise. Then it jumps into the black hole of despair and destruction.

Book has three parts:

  1. Revolution
  2. Competition
  3. Revenge

All focusing on the turmoil of Muslim world.


Black Wave is a detailed account of Khomeini’s Iran. The motives, means and outcomes of that how deeply it impacted the Islamic world. Then the siege of Haram in Makkah. It forced the House of Sauds to wake up from deep slumber to the revolts building up. We have been taught that this siege was broken with the help of our brave army. But in fact it was French forces who did that according to this book. It touched base with the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussain, his ambition and aggression. It also explores the role of Palestine, Syria and Egypt in this whirlpool of destruction. Of course our very own Zia-ul-Haq during whose tenure the sectarian killings among Shia and Sunnis were spread like wildfire.


One thing that strikes me when I read Black Wave that such books (like Blood and Oil, The Hundred Years War on Palestine etc.) the illusion that we have been fed about the importance of Pakistan in Muslim world. In reality there is very little mention of us in them. While we pride ourselves in calling us “Islam ka Qila” in reality we don’t matter to them that much. Pakistan is important. But only as a dumping site for Saudia, Iran, Afghanistan, US etc. to dump their troubles. We happily start digging our own grave.
Another disturbing thing is the portrayal of religion as the root cause of all the turmoils. Countries fight for supremacy of their version of Islam and culture. This is said with the help of distinguished and respected clerics who have distorted the face of Islam.


Black Wave is a very compelling read. The more you read the deeper you want to dive. But at one time it started making me very anxious to read all the destruction. The fact that it’s going on and on with no end in sight. A must read if you want to know “what happened to us?

Previously Sidra Javed

You can also read Urdu review by Aabaan Ahmed دل دیا دہلیز از رفعت سراج

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