In reading the review on Mueenuddin and Afzal-Khan I was put in mind of Tariq Ali. Especially his last book Night of the Golden Butterfly which is the fifth of five in his Islam Quintet series. All five books of the Quintet are a wonderful window into Muslim culture covering different historical eras in as many different locations.
As I watched the Twin Towers collapsing on September 11, 2001 I remember thinking "man, am I woefully ignorant about Middle Eastern history?" Tariq Ali in the novels of the Islam Quintet, and in his nonfiction works, has been incredibly useful in attacking that ignorance.
I highly recommend the series.
Fiction and Nonfiction by Tariq Ali at Grinnell College Libraries
Novels in the Islam Quintet:
The Book of Saladin. London, NY 1998.
Burling 3rd Floor PR6051.L44 B66 1998
Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree, 1993|
Stone Woman, 2000
Sultan in Palermo, 2006
Night of the Golden Butterfly, 2010