Here is a book that everyone should read.
For about four years, I began a study on the Middle East and the lives of Muslims. Having read several books on the history of the Middle East, I have come to appreciate the complex culture of that region and the turmoil caused by shifting alliances, civil strife, and the aggression of many nations into the area. In essence, I understand why the present day Middle East is in flux, trying to find balance, peace and yet assert its right to autonomy and respect. What has endured even more than tribal laws and borders is the religion of Islam. However, even to understand Islam is a difficult journey and fraught with misconceptions and opposing interpretations by scholars and even by individual Muslims.
When I came across Sumbul Ali-Karamali’s book, The Muslim next door, I knew I’d found a reference that I could trust to help me understand Islam in basic terms. She discusses all aspects of being a Muslim and how she enjoys a close relationship with her faith and Allah. I hear her excitement when she speaks of knowing that Islam guides her to living a peaceful life, a fruitful life, and passionate life. I hear her reverence when quoting passages from the Koran, teachings that encourage tolerance, peaceful co-existence with other religions, respect, fairness.
I loved her sense of humor and light hearted approach concerning challenges she had to face growing up in an American community with very few other Muslims. In spite of having experienced bigotry and relationships of closed-minded people, she has risen above the impulse to blame an entire culture based on the misguided actions of a few.
Anyone who is curious about Muslims and Islam should read her book. I’m wishing I had the good fortune of living beside a Muslim.