In Whose Name? Photographs by Abbas Published by Thames & Hudson, 2009.
Magnum photographer Abbas was in Siberia on 9/11, half a world away from the crumbling of the Twin Towers - but fully aware of the questions that would echo for years to come about the nature of Islam, and the fundamentalists who caused such destruction in Allah's name.
In Whose Name: The Islamic World after 9/11 is a collection of 173 black-and-white photographs made by Abbas in 16 countries over a seven-year period as he explored the Muslim world's response to the "jihadists in their midst." He asked, "How does Islam, a religion, sustain a political ideology - Islamism?"
Abbas's journal entries are a helpful guide on this journey, which includes Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Palestine, Indonesia, Thailand and Zanzibar. The photos themselves don't answer the questions he poses; Abbas's own reflections on the worlds he encounters offer the most insight along those lines.
But what is striking about these images is the sense of seeing Islam and the daily lives of its many followers through the lens of a photographer who does not bring a Western filter of danger and distortion to his subject - there are no tortured, tilted, menacing photographs here. Abbas, of course, comes from the Muslim world; he is Iranian, though he explains that he is not a religious man. As such he is the perfect insider/outsider, and he presents the worlds he finds in a non-judgmental way - allowing non-Muslims, in particular, the opportunity to experience images of the Muslim world that are not saturated in Western politics.
While Abbas does not answer the questions he poses, he does present us with a huge body of honest work that levels the playing field a bit - inviting us all into a space where perhaps the search for answers may begin.
Sara Terry A former staff correspondent for the Christian Science Monitor and magazine freelance writer, Sara Terry made a mid-career transition into documentary photography in the late 1990s. Her long-term project about the aftermath of war in Bosnia -- “Aftermath: Bosnia’s Long Road to Peace” -- was published in September 2005 by Channel Photographics, and was named as one of the best photo books of the year by Photo District News. Her work has been widely exhibited, at such venues as the United Nations, the Museum of Photography in Antwerp, and the Moving Walls exhibition at the Open Society Institute. She is the founder of The Aftermath Project (www.theaftermathproject.org), a non-profit grant program which helps photographers cover the aftermath of conflict. She is currently directing and producing "Fambul Tok," a documentary about a post-conflict forgiveness and reconciliation program in Sierra Leone, which recently won a grant from the Sundance Documentary Institute.