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.

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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.

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.

Readers’ Favorite Book Review for #Forbidden, #Suspense/Thriller

I’m so thrilled with this review. I entered the Readers’ Favorite competition and received this review. I’m holding my breath to see if Forbidden makes it to the next step in the competition.

Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers’ Favorite

Suspenseful and beguiling, Forbidden: Better Wear Your Flak Jacket by F. Stone is a #thriller that features #terrorism and political intrigue, a story with breathtaking intricacies of plot and red herrings that will have readers guessing and leafing through the pages with excitement. After a gruesome terrorist attack, police captain Hashim Sharif captures one survivor, Eliza MacKay. There is a cover-up and the police captain has to live with the secret, but there is more to the story than meets the eye. Can he get the truth from the lying MacKay?

While working to keep the respect that his government requires, the police captain is determined to find out the truth and to uncover the brain behind the terror that has cost the lives of fifteen American volunteers. Things get complicated when he receives orders to kill MacKay, the only person who can lead him to the source of the terror. With a CIA agent on his heels and his life threatened, Hashim Sharif has to choose his path wisely and determine what is worth dying for.

F. Stone’s novel is an engrossing story, a page-turner that is masterfully written to keep the reader turning the pages. The plot is strong and has the potential for great entertainment. I loved the writing that features excellent prose, captivating descriptions, and great dialogues. The characters are rock-solid and the reader will enjoy navigating the complex political setting and the powerful conflict that drives the plot. Forbidden: Better Wear Your Flak Jacket is swiftly paced and masterfully crafted to offer readers the kind of entertainment they’ll enjoy in a thriller. You won’t be able to put it down once started.

I’m Getting Annoyed, Really Ticked Actually With Reviewers.

Reviewers Beware! Some readers have been quite harsh in commenting on Forbidden’s seer – Eliza MacKay.

I should be a bit more blase when it comes to being annoyed with people who believe being a seer is someone with a crystal ball, using super natural paranormal talents.

In fact, we are all seers. To some extent, we all use this ‘gateway’ to a higher awareness but mostly, and often embarrassingly refer to it as ‘my gut, or ‘my intuition.’ I don’t know of anyone of my associates who haven’t experienced an illogical reaction to being in a particular location, attending an event, or making a purchase, etc. etc. You instinctively ‘see’ a consequence, a condition, a reward or threat associated with the idea, plan or action.

The seer is one who has flexed those intuition muscles and has become more adept at discerning what is fact and what is fantasy. Eliza MacKay in Forbidden is a character who has proven she has had success in finding lost dogs, being able to see where they are (if they aren’t running). She doesn’t portray herself having some supernatural gift bestowed upon her by a deity. She’s no goddess, and certainly no saint.

young woman in the dark

My ire with a few reviewers is justified. The first chapter, in fact first few paragraphs, she’s struggling with a strong intuition (seer) that she should get out of RIPT. She’s torn. She’s promised to meet a Habitat for Humanity group to be their interpreter. She can’t abandon them. As the chapter progresses, it is clear that she is truly in great danger.

Reviewers seem to get rankled when, much later in the story, she offers to help Captain Sharif find his children through touching the child’s coat or gazing into a map. The reviewers state that ‘suddenly’ she became a seer. No, that characteristic was introduced in chapter one, paragraph one. Damn! Sometime I wonder if reviewers read the bloody story or if they simply skim, reading every other sentence. Is there a trend to see how fast a reader can finish the book? How many books can they read in a year?

This assessment is from reading each review and discovering some readers did not grasp the plot, the motives, the chain of events, etc. Now, if every reader had the same difficulty, obviously the fault is with me, the author, in not writing a clear and well though out story. However, since most did fully understand the story, I wonder why other readers were confused. If they were required to write an exam on what they just read, they’d flunk.

There’s one more point I want to make clear. Some readers believe that what was forbidden is that Captain Sharif was not allowed to have a relationship with a non-Muslim. That is not true. The reader’s personal beliefs and misconceptions tainted their experience with Forbidden. What happened to having an open mind?

Fact: What is true for a devout Muslim, is that he or she should not be intimate before marriage. A Muslim man can marry any woman he chooses, regardless of her religion. Sadly, the reverse is different. A devout Muslim woman must marry only a Muslim man (to ensure the children are raised as Muslims). However, in a moderate Muslim community, there is more flexibility.

I’m done with my rant. Thanks.