Islam is Complex

what would a muslim sayI was provided with a free copy of “What a Muslim Would Say Book 2”, and “Interfaith Dialogue and Debates” in exchange for an honest review.

Let me begin by verifying that I am not a Muslim. However, since writing a novel (Forbidden, by F. Stone) wherein the setting is the Middle East and most of the characters are Muslim, I have studied the religion of Islam, though I don’t consider myself an authority on the subject. Far from it!

During my studies, many Muslims have been overwhelming generous in their time, kindness, and eager to help me grasp not only the teachings of the prophet Mohammad, but to also understand the culture of Muslims – which varies depending upon many factors (history, country, government).

Understanding Islam can be challenging. Ahmed Lofty Rashed has been inspired to assist both Muslim and non-Muslims understanding of Islam by inviting the public to send questions to https://www.whyislam.org/. He responds to each question providing answers in clear language and refers to corresponding passages in the Koran. His answers are articulate, honest, non-confrontational, and comprehensive. What a Muslim Would Say Book 2 and Interfaith Dialogues and Debates (follow-up to Book 1) are a compilation of this email communication.

Ahmed Lofty Rashed’s intent is to encourage understanding of Islam’s fundamental goal – to promote peace. The difficulty in understanding Islam is due to, in part, criminals who promote themselves as Muslim even while committing terrorism and atrocities which are in contradiction to the teachings of the Koran. The challenge is compounded by the media and political agents’ desire to sway public opinion in a direction that promotes profit and votes – not peace.

After reading Ahmed Rashed’s three books, it occurred to me that to fully understand Islam, one needs to be almost immersed in the faith from birth AND to have a comprehensive knowledge of the historical events during the time of Mohammad. For non-Muslims, it can be a life long study. Scholars of all religions still debate on many of the nuances, the obscure meanings, and wonder at the sacred wisdom declared centuries ago. Much of the text in our holy books are directly connected to the historical events, and to the level of understanding of human behavior and other sciences. For example, the explanation for the Islam’s law against homosexuality was believed that behavior was a choice. We now finally understand it is not a choice. I wonder, would Mohammad receive the same ‘laws’ today from God given our greater understanding of biology, neuroscience, etc.?

For years, many of my friends, my husband, and others have lamented that Muslims seem to be overly passive in expressing outrage with the atrocities wielded by extremist so-called Muslims. In a way, I understood their quiet display, offering only peaceful reflection away from the crowds of frightened non-Muslims. It is with great relief the dialogue has begun between the scholars, between the followers of the religions, and within the faithful in each community. Thank you, Ahmed Lofty Rashed for being brave, wise, and dedicated to peace. Blessings.

Advertisements

Heartbroken

unnamed (6)Insecure Writers Support Group My apologies for missing last week’s blog hop. My dear Smokey became suddenly very ill with liver failure. There is nothing so difficult and painful as to make the decision to end a loved-one’s life. Worse yet is the guilt, wondering if I missed the cues that her health was on the verge of collapse. On Friday Aug 31st, I gently released her.

On the brighter side, Smokey is now bouncing around in her true home, and probably bossing all the other cats there – and all other creatures and people. No doubt Ralph was there to greet her and help her transition to becoming an awesome spirit.

These terrible days of grieving destroy the impulses to return to my painting and writing. I had been looking forward to a renewed drive to write my third novel and get out my water color paints. Maybe next month.

DSCF1534

Book Review: What Would a Muslim Say?

what would a muslim sayI was provided with a free copy of What a Muslim Would Say in exchange for an honest review.

Let me begin by verifying that I am not a Muslim. However, since writing a novel (Forbidden, by F. Stone) wherein the setting is the Middle East and most of the characters are Muslim, I have studied the religion of Islam, though I don’t consider myself an authority on the subject.

One of the best sources of information was from a book by Sumbul Ali-Karamali, The Muslim Next Door; and a book by Mustafa Akyol who wrote Islam Without Extremes. I also read The Fault Lines of the Middle East: The history of the religious and political issues affecting the region, by Charles River Editors.

Understanding Islam is both difficult and enlightening. Ahmed Lofty Rashed has been inspired to present answers to challenging and controversial subjects with respect to Muslims’ beliefs and culture by inviting the public to send questions to him via email. He responds to each question providing answers in simple language and refers to passages in the Koran. His answers are articulate, honest, non-judgemental, and comprehensive. What a Muslim Would Say is a compilation of this email communication.

Ahmed Lofty Rashed’s intent is to encourage understanding of Islam’s fundamental goal – to promote peace. The difficulty in understanding Islam is due to, in part, criminals who promote themselves as Muslim even while committing terrorism and atrocities which are in contradiction to the teachings of the Koran. The challenge is compounded by the media and political agenda to sway public opinion in a direction that promotes profit and votes – not peace.

Ahmed Lofty Rashed covers many subjects that were initiated by people’s email inquiries. Included are:

Faith, sex, and marriage

Muslim response to criticism

Jihad and freedom in the modern world

The Quran and how it informs a Muslim’s faith

Islamic worship, prayer, charity and pilgrimage

Salvation and tolerance in Islam

Muslim culture and modernity

Understanding Islamic law

Etiquettes of visiting a mosque

Gods’ grace and free will

How can Islam be called a religion of peace?

Can Muslims and Christians ever live in harmony?

Even though some of the email messages to Ahmed Lofty Rashed were written in a hostile tone, his response remained respectful and non-judgemental. Several messages continued on, response followed by more responses, until the inquiry was fully addressed.

Anyone who is seeking clarification about the truth of Islam is encouraged to read books from many sources, including What Would a Muslim Say. Many Muslims I have met over the years are most welcoming in their mosque, and so delighted to talk about Islam and their culture. I look forward to another book from Ahmed Lofty Rashed who plans to write a follow-up book.

Book Review: The Former Assassin by Nikki Stern

IWSG badge

Insecure Writer’s Support Group – I’m back. For the last several months I’ve been reassessing, rebuilding, and paring down to what is important to me as a woman and as a writer. For a long while I had planned to drop the writing gig. A part of me was glad to be free of the pressures and commitments. It was good to just BE. Really good.

Now that I feel the earth back under my feet again, there is a niggly sort of feeling creeping into my thoughts and decision processes. I recognized the source. It was Bart. If you don’t remember him from my “Forbidden” years, hang on. The little green varmint will resume his colorful antics.

download

For today, my offering to the IWSG is a book review. The  Former Assassin is an excellent read. The author Nikki Stern has the best talent for description that, instead of losing the reader in endless flowery text, she pulls you seductively into the depth of the plot and characters.

The Former Assassin

by Nikki Stern

on Tour August 1-31, 2018

Synopsis:

The Former Assassin by Nikki Stern

Susan Foster wants to retire. Her boss wants her dead.

After decades as Victor Kemp’s off-the books killer, Suzanne finally quits. Not until five years later does Kemp discover how thoroughly she’s deceived him. Determined to punish her, he tracks her to Wales to watch her die. Instead, he walks into a trap.

Believing themselves safe at last, Suzanne and her family relocate to London, where she hopes to find the peace that has eluded her for so long. Her son is engaged to a nobleman’s daughter; her husband has a good job with British Intelligence. Yet she still struggles with restless dreams and the premonition that her nemesis has survived.

He has: Kemp, though severely injured, is rebuilding his empire and plotting revenge. He’s prepared to risk everything to end the former assassin. He may not be the only one.

Suzanne has no choice: to protect those she loves, she will be forced to kill again. Assassins, it seems, can never retire.

“An explosive page-turner which owes its momentum to it two well-drawn opponents and a conflict that goes beyond good-vs.-evil.” ~IndieReader, Four Star review

“Later turns in the smashing final act come at a searing pace.” ~ Kirkus Reviews

“Keeps readers guessing the outcome right up to its conclusion.” ~D. Donovan Midwest Book Review

Book Review, by F. Stone

The first line of this book grabbed me. “Today is not a good day to die.”

The Former Assassin is suspenseful, well written, and has interesting characters. I particularly liked the author’s talent for description. Nikki Stern achieves the perfect balance of immersing the reader into the scene and the mind of the characters without losing the sense of suspense.

In my opinion, The Former Assassin is more character based than action. However, because the reader becomes intimately connected to the former assassin’s struggle with her terrible past, the reader is motivated to see if Suzanne can survive her profession of being a cold-blooded killer. Does she have the strength and courage to face how morally corrupt she has become? When she learns the people she dearly loves have been murdered, all seems lost. Suzanne’s heart, once on the verge of walking away from her life of crime, sizzles with hatred for her corrupt boss, Victor Kemp.

Kemp’s policy is to eliminate not just his enemies, but all traces of their connection. No one is allowed to leave his employment. When Suzanne declares retirement and goes into hiding, he desperately needs to destroy her. She knows every detail of his criminal activity. The hunt reaches fever pitch when his son is murdered.

Readers who enjoy interesting characters will love The Former Assassin. This book is a perfect blend of characters dealing with intense internal moral issues, working to perfect their skill as an unstoppable sharpshooter, and struggling to survive a no-win situation.

I give The Former Assassin 4.5 stars. Half a star is ‘knocked off’ as, in spite of her terrible family life, I couldn’t understand what drove Suzanne to be a heartless killer for many years . Other readers may find her motives realistic.

Message received from Nikki Stern:  Thanks so much for the review! Please let your readers know I’m offering specials to book clubbers as well.

Book Details:

Genre: Suspense Thriller
Published by: Ruthenia Press
Publication Date: January 8, 2018
Number of Pages: 304
ISBN: 9780999548721
Purchase Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible | Goodreads

 

Read an excerpt:

Today is not a good day to die.

No day is, not really. We humans are hard-wired to survive. By most standards, though, this morning is exceptional. The weather is balmy, even for May. The fierce winds that often pound the Welsh coastline have remained offshore. Purple heather blankets the emerald cliffs that encircle Bristol Bay. Small breakers gently lap the shoreline and wash the sand clean of debris. The water sparkles in the sunlight. Shades of azure and aquamarine yield to cyan and lapis further out. In the distance, the sea meets a cerulean sky just where the earth curves. No slate clouds gather at the horizon. All is calm.

Nothing suggested that today I would find myself on a bench in one of the most breathtaking spots in the world with a gun to my head, held by a predator who speaks just two words: “Don’t move.”

***

Excerpt from The Former Assassin by Nikki Stern. Copyright © 2018 by Nikki Stern. Reproduced with permission from Nikki Stern. All rights reserved.

 

Author Bio:

Nikki Stern

Nikki is the author of two works of non-fiction: HOPE IN SMALL DOSES, a 2015 Eric Hoffer finalist for books that provoke, inspire and redirect thought, and BECAUSE I SAY SO: MORAL AUTHORITY’S DANGEROUS APPEAL, as well as dozens of short stories. She is co-author on the Cafe Noir interactive murder mystery series, published by Samuel French. Nikki’s suspense novel, THE FORMER ASSASSIN has garnered strong reviews, including a four-star rating from Indie Reader. She’s working on a mystery/sci-fi series starring an unorthodox crime fighter named Samantha Tate. When she’s not writing about strong complex women, Nikki is working with several non-profits, taking Pilates classes, and attending to the needs of her dog, Molly.

Catch Up With Nikki Stern On:
Website, Goodreads, Twitter, & Facebook!

 

Tour Participants:

Visit these other great hosts on this tour for more great reviews, interviews, guest posts, and giveaways!<!–
https://www.linkytools.com/basic_linky_include.aspx?id=286573

 

ENTER GIVEAWAY:

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours for Nikki Stern. There will be 2 winners of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card. The giveaway begins on August 1, 2018 and runs through September 1, 2018. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

 

Get More Great Reads at Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours

Romance Under Fire – Returning to Blaze a New Trail

There are mega plans coming up. I could give you some hints, but you really don’t want me to ruin the surprise, do you?

One of activities I have missed doing is reading novels about to be launched, and posting my review. The first novel on my schedule (September 1st, 2018) is the Former Assassin by Nikki Stern, introduced by Partners in Crime Tour.

The Former Assassin by Nikki Stern

The next project about to be finalized, then launched, is top secret. But I am so excited, it is going to be painful to keep it quiet. From time to time, I’ll drop in a clue, just to torture you. It’s going to be so much fun.

Ciao, Baby.