MESA Book Awards
Johns Hopkins University
2021 Fatema Mernissi Book Award Winner
Say What Your Longing Heart Desires: Women, Prayer, and Poetry in Iran
Stanford University Press
The title is taken from a well-known story in which Moses tells a shepherd not to worry about the “manners and rules” of religion but rather to “say what your longing heart desires.” Using beautiful, limpid prose, Haeri weaves together poetry, religion, and ethnography to show how a group of middle-class, educated Iranian women counter the state’s version of Islam. They regularly revisit and reconsider Islamic theology by drawing on the vast body of mystic poetry that is so central to Iranian culture. In the process, Haeri blurs lines thrown up between the secular and the religious in recent scholarship and invites us to consider the deeper, political, and public meaning of ritualistic religious practices.