In Kerala, we used to liken Muslim organizations to crows on the sky, simply because both are uncountable and large in number. This simile is meant to refer to the factional diversities and complexities among Mappila Muslims of Kerala. Interestingly, all these organisations have their own publications and publishing houses through which they try to trace Islam historically, ideologically and even aesthetically. However, one cannot be blamed if one argues that all these organisations are using these resources for preaching their own versions of Islam. Many of them are apparently biased or unable to do things more independently.
I strongly believe that, it is to bridge void of this unbiased academic writing of Islam, Other Books was born. Primarily aimed to fill up that vacuum, later the publishers extended their focus on the marginalized and ‘otherized’ sections of society, an unprecedented move by the Muslim community here. From the very outset, Other owned better professionalism, academic quality, and openness which the Muslim publication industry across the state has not done so far. At the same time, it didn’t go back the so called structures of the mainstream publication industry.
Personally, for me, it was great experience and good learning process while being part of the Other gang. And what made working there more interesting was the lovely people around who like biriyani, coffee, qawwali and Khalid Hosseini alike and kind enough to serve it for ‘others’ without any hesitation. The main attraction of Other is Dr. Auswaf Ahsan, a man with charm and a smart professional who knows how to make the best use of the potential positivity of the factional differences and diversity of Kerala Islam, unlike many of his peers who prefer to denounce it every now and then.
I have noticed the Other being keen on disseminating both classical and modern reading of Islam to the local general readers who are not very used to it, either by translating or reproducing it. While working there as an intern for a short but ever memorable period, I can say that it is a good place to work without any strain or pressure. There was no chair for formalities. It was an experience to cherish forever.