Ex-Muslim: How One Daring Prayer To Jesus Changed A Life Forever, by Naeem Fazal
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for an honest review.]
In reading this book, it is very clear that the author, a Kuwait-born and raised person of Pakistani ancestry who converted to Christianity upon moving to the United States, is a passionate and open sort of fellow. Here is an example of an author who is pretty bluntspoken about his own background and shortcomings and also very much interested in provoking others to thought and reflection about Jesus Christ, particularly people from a Muslim background. Given the distinct lack of willingness among Muslims to accept the loss of their children to a belief in Christianity, this is definitely a high-risk sort of strategy, and the author comments about threats he has faced for his outreach efforts among the Muslim community.
For those who are readers with an interest in personal narratives that deal with growth as well as leaving their ancestral religion , this is an example of that type of narrative. It is also a narrative that emphasizes a dramatic life of somewhat radical faith , and includes some frightening encounters with the demonic world , and that discusses the attempts of a young man who starts out as way too much of a novice to plant his own church . It is a book whose contents are impossibly broad, dealing with a wide variety of subjects ranging from life in Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion as well as the difficulties of being someone from Middle Eastern descent trying to be taken seriously as a Christian in the Southern United States (and I thought it was hard being a non-Trinitarian Yankee!). The author clearly strives for obedience while being open and honest about his faults, including a susceptibility to the prosperity Gospel he found as an early believer, thrust into leadership long before he had been properly seasoned and grounded.
Given that this is an account full of observant details (I have to appreciate anyone who is that observant to others and what they are going through) as well as vivid stories, Naeed sounds like someone who would be an enjoyable dinner companion in a conversation about what faith means. It is clear that part of the attraction of Protestant Christianity to the author was a desire to avoid the strict legalism of the faith of his own family, a rigid merit-based system that was based on rote memorization and not any kind of genuine or personal faith. It is clear that the imminence of Jesus Christ in particular was a key element in his decision to join the Christian faith, and his church hopping was inspired not a little by his own background and difficulty in finding acceptance. Among the most moving parts of this book are the author’s recounting of the growing faith of himself and his siblings in mainstream Christianity even as his parents remained Muslim. For those believers who have dramatic life histories, have made pretty radical commitments to belief, are observant about others and filled with passionate zeal, and also have a longing to build bridges between people of different faiths in order to provide the means by which effective evangelism can take place, this is the sort of book that can be easily appreciated, told in a very warm and personal style. There is much to admire in this work, and much to reflect on as well, and much to celebrate, even if one hopes that the rough edges and understanding of God’s ways on the part of the author will only increase in time.
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