Thursday, June 18, 2009

Unveiling Islam

Unveiling Islam won The Gold Medallion Book Award and is listed as being a National Best-Seller. It was published in 2002, following the attack on the World Trade Center when Americans had a lot of questions about this particular religion. I know I was more curious about it. I wish I had known about this book a little earlier.

This book was written by two brothers, Ergun and Emir Caner, two former Muslims who converted to Christianity. There was a price to pay for their conversion though -- their father disowned them. The introduction of the book is devoted to the subject of their father who was their hero as they grew up. They loved their father and the cost of conversion was, for them, quite high. They realized that was going to be a penalty for their change but they followed their heart on the matter, even though their change in belief system was wildly unpopular. I think that they write the introduction to show that they are aware of what Islam requires of its believer and that they were not writing as ignorant bystanders. They knew the teaching and personally felt the cost. They set themselves up as being very qualified to write this book.

This book is essentially an overview of the Islamic faith, religion, practices and history. I learned a lot about Muhammad and the distinctions between the various factions of Muslims. I also appreciated how they took the time to note comparisons between the Christian Bible and the Qur'an. This book is incredibly informative and tasteful also. It is educational.

Now why do I think it makes a good read? As one commenter stated, this is not a "cozy read." Parts of it are incredibly disturbing. However, I think that as painful and pointed as it may be (and it is), it is also a significant statement as to how far Americans have come in reacting to various cultures post-attack. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Americans (FDR himself!) responded by relegating Japanese-Americans to internment camps. (For a good story about internment camps and reactions of Americans during WWII, read my review of Stubborn Twig.) Post 9/11 we were more careful not to shoo Arabs out of our presence. I think the Caners are rather grateful and they are not writing this book to condemn Muslims so much as to help Christians (and Americans - but primarily American Christians) learn how to properly love Muslims.

My pastor just returned home from Pakistan and I was curious to read this book in light of his travels. He met with many Muslim leaders while he was over there, which was a rare honor and opportunity. He learned a lot and has been sharing with us what his experiences and interactions were like. Fascinating stories! This book helps me to understand his experiences in a different light.

Unveiling Islam was hard hitting, fact packed and made me feel really uncomfortable. At the same time, I thought it was so helpful and enlightening that I'm now ready to recommend it to everyone I know. I seriously took too long to read this book. I encourage you to it! It's something else.


bekahcubed said...

I think I might just have to read this one. Islam is such a touchy subject--and one that is either glamorized or vilified in our current culture. It'd be nice to read an honest view on Islam--something beyond the stereotypes (both negative and positive)--and it sounds like this book might well fit the bill.

Carrie said...

Yes. It is informative but it is also caring. You are right- it IS a touchy subject. But I think we should learn about it. It helps to know more about Islam. Beats ignorance. And I think the authors handled things very well....esp. loving their father as they did. Make sure you read the introduction!

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

This sounds fascinating, Carrie. Thanks for a very informative review!

B said...

This sounds like something I'll have to read. It was unfamiliar to me, so many thanks for reviewing it.

ibeeeg said...

Thanks Carrie for this review. I am going to put this book onto my TBR list. I have a co-worker who is Muslim, she is very open to explaining but reading about Islam could give me a different insight.

I think it is good and healthy to know about different faiths, cultures.

Mirlandra said...

I was 17 when the WTC was hit and I never stopped to think about the things that got tucked into my heart about Muslims - it was just my experience.

My trip to Dubai and Kuwait a few months back really opened up my eyes. The big thing I learned is that just as every Christian is different, walks out their beliefs in a different way, so every Muslim is different. There is a wide range of what it means to be Muslim. Many (fully knowing I was a Christian) were very relational with me, I was even invited into homes, fed, and listened to. It was amazing. Just like us, they are mother's, husbands, fathers. Some of them are kind, some radical.

I'm looking forward to reading this and putting another layer on my understanding.

Lisa (Southern Girl Reads) said...

This sounds like a very enlightening book that many should read. I had the same feeling after reading Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. That book opened my eyes to so many things, mainly, it made me appreciate being an American like never before. Great review, Carrie!

Abdul-Halim V. said...

By all means inform yourself about Islam. I would just add the caveat that based on clips I've seen of Ergun Caner he makes many really basic mistakes regarding Islamic doctrine and practice and shouldn't be considered an expert.

Anonymous said...

I got to spend a week w/ Ergun at a youth retreat and he is very passionate about what he does. He went thru the ends and outs as nest he could w/ the time frame he was given. His book has filled in so many blanks that I've had about the faith and culture... I'm actually beginning a study w/ the youth department at my church using this book so we can better understand the islamic faith.

Anonymous said...

And I understand why Abdul Halim V. (see above comment) /\ /\ /\ is defensive about the "mistakes" that Ergun has supposedly made in his book..

Ergun has had 11 FATWAHS (spelling is wrong I know) on his life. Those are basically death threats in our society.

Bush had one.

Obama has ZERO, because the islamic faith does not recognize his "conversion" to Christianity.

If the claims made in Mr. Caner's book(s) are indeed false, then i would be led to believe that the muslims across the world see no need to declare 11 fatwahs on Ergun..

Which seems rather ironic.

They tell Ergun to stop saying that they are a violent religion, culutre, etc, or they'll kill him.

Just doesn't add up to me...

khany said...

hello Carrie,

religions and cultures intersect constantly in the contemporary world. fortunately, there are an enormous number of resources available to us should we wish to make better sense of the world around us.

just as you would not recommend that i go to an ex-christian to learn about christianity so too i would suggest that you do not gain your knowledge of islam from an ex-muslim if you are sincere about finding the truth about islam.

why take my opinion or caner's for what islam teaches when you can form your own informed opinion based on islam's primary document, i.e. the qur'an (specially when it is not too much longer than caner's book itself).

you can find english translations of the qur'an at quran explorer, online quran project, tanzil. these websites have translations in multiple languages, by muslims of several different sectarian biases, and by non-muslims.

may god guide us to the straight path

Anonymous said...

I think we should be really critical about the author. The real way to understand about islam is the Quran it self. This is the book that muslims believe in. As you have mentioned that the author is a convert. He probably put his personal feeling and not facts about islam. There is a thing called islamophobia across this world. People judge islam because they feel it is strange- but Islam is not. Besides, in a world like this, can you define what really is "normal." What is normal in one state is not the same to other. What is normal today is not normal tomorrow. If you wish to understand Islam go to the Quran and those who are deeply educated in it. If you want to understand Christianity go to the Bible and those who understand it. Be critical to who you are talking to as well about touchy topics like religion and culture.

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