"The Great Theft"

In the Name of God, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful

This year’s ISNA conference was very successful for me, for a number of reasons. One of the most important of these is the books that I bought. If one were to attend the ISNA conference, one would quickly realize that the most important part of the whole conference – besides the sessions – is the bazaar.

In the bazaar, dozens of exhibitors display their goods for sale. Organizations such as CAIR and even the State Department were also represented. And there are a number of booksellers, and more than likely, you will find me there, browsing the books. That’s all I care to look at, really (if I am not walking with my wife in the women’s clothing section).

This year, I bought five great books. In time, I will review each of them on this blog. The first book I read was The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists by Dr. Khaled Abou El Fadl. It is absolutely excellent. It is a must read for everyone who wants to genuinely understand the difference between the tiny minority of puritans (as Dr. Abou El Fadl calls them) and the moderate majority. He explains and then deconstructs their worldview. I am almost finished reading it and loving every moment of it.

Here is one of the many excerpts that I found most helpful:

Take, for instance, the case of honor killings. In the case of an honor killing, the male family member committing the act of murder feels no shame or remorse, because he has convinced himself that killing his sister or daughter is the will of God…Rather than thinking of God as merciful, forgiving, and compassionate, he imagines God to be angry, enraged, and vengeful. This imagined view of God was possible only because this supposedly pious and devout man heedlessly projected his own emotions and attributed them to onto God.” (p. 139)

Amen. I found myself agreeing with him throughout this book, and his characterization of the puritans (Wahhabis, Salafis, etc) right on, because I have come across many of these Muslims in my own lifetime. Like I said, this book is a must read, and it is such an important book that I will add it once again to the “Hesham’s picks” of this blog.


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