Book Review: Plants of the Qur'an by Shahina A. Ghazanfar and Sue Wickison

There are a lot of gardening books out there that cover all different aspects of gardening and plants. There is always room for one more and always the capacity for one to stand head and shoulders above the rest.  I love being totally blown away by a new book so that I rave about it and want everyone to see it too (yes I am that annoying); this book Plants of Qur'an is one such book.

I was given this book but not with the intention that I would review it.  I have not paid for this book and I am not expected by anyone to write about it.  My words and opinions are my own.  This book is too good not to review.

This has to be one of the most fabulous books I have ever had the joy to read.  I hardly know where to start describing or how many superlatives I can fit into one review.

First of all it is, as it says on the cover, a history and culture of plants in the Qur'an.  It taught me so much about the meaning and significance of the plants featured.
Sue Wickison has created the most detailed and stunning watercolour illustrations of the thirty plants featured that took over five years to complete.  There was an exhibition of the work of this book at Kew and I am so annoyed that I missed it.  I would love to have seen this.

This book is as informative as it is beautiful.  The synergies between the text and illustrations are very powerful.  You will enjoy this book if you are interested in the Qur'an, you will enjoy this book if you are interested in histories and cultures, you will enjoy this book if you are interested in plants.  This book reaches so many audiences.  This book is very much focussed on the Qur'an, but also takes us across other religions where the plants have meaning.  It is a book that goes down into great detail and at the same time has breadth.

Shahina explains that not all plants mentioned in the Qur'an are mentioned because they are food, some are mentioned for medicinal reasons and some for their perfume.  The books takes us throught the various aspects of the plants:  their Qurr'anic name, their context in the Qur'an, their Biblical name and context in the Bible, how they are referenced and if they have medicinal qualities.  Then we move into a detailed essay on each plant, alongside Sue's illustrations.  There are the passages from the Qur'an that mention the plants and a detailed bibliography that shows the amount of research that has made this book into the achievement that it is.

To top it all, in absolute recognition of this masterpiece of a book: it has just won the Garden Book of the Year category at the recent GMG Awards.  Truly deserved.

Buy it: buy it for your friends, family and yourself.

Can you tell I like it?

Plants of the Qur'an by Shahina A. Ghazanfar and Sue Wickison is published by Kew Publishing

Take care and be kind.

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