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Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation
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Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation [Paperback]

Eboo Patel
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)

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Book Description

June 1, 2008

With a new afterword
Acts of Faith
is a remarkable account of growing up Muslim in America and coming to believe in religious pluralism, from one of the most prominent faith leaders in the United States. Eboo Patel’s story is a hopeful and moving testament to the power and passion of young people—and of the world-changing potential of an interfaith youth movement.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Patel, a former Rhodes scholar with a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford, is the founder of the Interfaith Youth Core, an organization that unites young people of different religions to perform community service and explore their common values. Patel argues that such work is essential, manifesting the faith line that will define the 21st century. Patel's own story is more powerful than the exhaustive examples he provides of how mainstream faith failed to reach young people like Osama bin Laden and Yighal Amir, the assassin of Yitzhak Rabin. With honesty, Patel relates how he suffered the racist taunts of fellow youth, and, in response, alternately rebelled against and absorbed the religion of his parents—Islam—but in his own way. Meanwhile, he continued to pursue interfaith work with vigor, not quite knowing his end goal but always feeling in his gut that interfaith understanding was the key. This autobiography of a young activist captures how an angry youth can be transformed—by faith, by the community and, most of all, by himself—into a profound leader for the cause of peace. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


“A beautifully written story of discovery and hope.”
—President Bill Clinton
“[A] visionary book, part coming-of-age memoir and part call-to-action . . . A shining vision of the possibilities of interfaith cooperation and pluralistic discourse.”  
—Adam Mansbach, The Boston Globe
“The best recent American statement about living one’s faith in a pluralistic society.”
Robin Lovin, Christian Century
“Remarkable . . . A well-written, compelling testimony to how one man is trying to ensure that different religions can live side by side in peace.”
—Paul Raushenbush,

“Eboo Patel is an exciting new voice of a new America: diverse but not divisive, hopeful but not utopian. He speaks for all of us from a rising generation of bright, brown, and bold Americans who have much to offer a country embarking on a new millennium and in need of new blood.”
—Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, executive director of the Zaytuna Institute

Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; Reprint edition (June 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807077275
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807077276
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #690,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Visionary - Practical - An Urgent Read September 3, 2007
I finished this book the week before CNN began to air their three night special entitled "God's Warriors." If you haven't made time to watch God's Warriors for the 6 hour duration, you should. If you haven't read Eboo Patel's book, Acts of Faith - The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation,you must.

Religious fundamentalism continues to be the spawning grounds for extremism that continues to ravage the soul of mankind. It is through the efforts of Eboo Patel and the InterFaith Youth Core ([...] that young adults from all faith persuasions are challenged to learn to live with one another, in collaborative harmony.

The book recounts Patel's personal struggle with forging and cherishing his Muslim identity and faith, as an American, and then launching the InterFaith Youth Core as his vehicle for creating pluralistic understanding within the next generation of young adults who will become the leaders of our world. This book is about how one man decided to become part of the international interfaith youth movement.

As Patel says, "In a world where the forces that seek to divide us are strong, I came to one conclusion: We have to save each other. It's the only way to save ourselves." P. 180

This book chronicles how Eboo Patel came to participate in the movement of religious pluralism. In his own words, "Movements re-create the world. A movement is a growing group of people who believe so deeply in a new possibility that they participate in making it a reality. They won't all meet. They won't even know everybody else's names. But somehow, they all have the feeling that people on the other side of the city or country or the world believe in the same idea, burn with the same passion, and are taking risks for the same dream." P.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An important memoir for young global change agents. December 9, 2007
As the Director of the Center for Global Engagement at Northwestern University, I am always on the look out for books that help young people make sense of their place in the world and their potential to create meaningful change.

What I felt the strongest connection to in Acts of Faith was Eboo's sense - which I felt throughout the book - that by exploring the intersection of one's own story and the legacy or history of the stories of which it is a part, each of us might better understand the potential of our own moment. Even more, each of us might be better able to access that potential and make it real.

What I believe Eboo has come across - in this book and with IFYC more widely - is nothing less than a deep truth of human nature - that not only does our sense of self impact our impact on the world, but that by working to strengthen, round out and challenge that sense of self, we better enable everyone to contribute their unique assets, potentials, and perspectives to improving our shared future.

What I've better come to understand after reading this is that what Patel calls "pluralism", the Center for Global Engagement calls "collaboration across borders," but it amounts to the same thing: a deep belief in the potential of the space we all share to make of this world all that it can be.

Highly recommended for the young social entrepreneur, volunteer, or humanitarian on your list!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book of profound hope and reconciliation May 1, 2009
By Helen
This is a magnificent book. Many people identify major problems now facing humanity. Some people offer solutions. A few, take practical, positive steps to fix the problems. Eboo Patel is in the third category. He is building bridges from religious intolerance to understanding and acceptance. This easy-to-read, personal and heartwarming story should be read by all who care about the future of our planet and its people. Are you wishing for a good reason to feel hopeful? Read this book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling, important story June 24, 2007
Acts of Faith is a unique, compelling, and important story that reframes the dialogue about youth and religion. Instead of the usual fare of games, friends, fundraisers, and trips that characterize too much religious youth work, Patel reminds us of the critical, urgent need to engage young people as change agents for creating a more civil and vibrant society.

Patel also reframes the debate about pluralism to show that bringing together young people from diverse religious traditions to engage in service together does not undermine their own religious identity, but actually (almost paradoxically) reinforces and deepens it. Everyone who cares about today's generation of young people--whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, something else, or none of the above--will be absorbed in Patel's story and challenged by his message.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, extraordinary vision, gritty memoir June 21, 2007
I read this through in one sitting - couldn't put it down. In a time when the West is obsessed with Muslim integration & violent extremism, Patel provides sharp insight into the best solutions.
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18 of 24 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I support the message... July 10, 2012
By Claire
I should start out by saying that I believe interfaith programs and religious pluralism are both fantastic ideas. I really support the message of this book. That being said, I can't say that I liked Eboo Patel. Sure, his story is inspiring and, I'll admit, well written, but he just came off the wrong way to me. He seemed to only take responsibility for good things. When he approached a situation well, accomplished a goal or came up with a grand idea, he always took complete responsibility. However, whenever something went wrong or he acted poorly in a situation, he blamed America or terrorists (even then it was America's fault for terrorism). For example, on his trip to India as an 11 year old middle schooler, he was rude and obnoxious. He admitted to complaining for the entire trip. He blamed America for his poor behavior and stated that America gave him "the white man's sneer." First off, that's not America. That's adolescence. Do you think preteens in Europe or Japan don't complain? I'll admit that privilege is probably a corresponding factor, but then he should blame his comfortable upbringing not America as a whole. Second, I didn't know that all white men, as a collective group, "sneered" at other cultures. Does not one white male have any decency? Thanks Eboo, I'll keep that in mind. Another issue I found with Eboo is his inability to really understand some situations. For example, Eboo and one of his friends decided to go to a holocaust survivor's speech. At the end, audience members were allowed to ask questions. His friend decided this was her chance to make a difference. She asks the audience why nothing is being done about Bosnia because the situation there is a holocaust. If people don't want holocausts to happen again why are they ignoring that there is one currently in Bosnia? Read more ›
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars One man's faith-based journey
More like three and a half stars. This is a well-written account of Eboo Patel's life, coming to terms with his own Muslim identity and being inspired by the idea of... Read more
Published 13 days ago by Melissa N.
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth a penny!
This book is insuling to my intelligence. It starts with a scenario claiming a Christian is a terrorist. The person in question does not hold Biblical beliefs. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Paul Sutliff
5.0 out of 5 stars Answers "Why Interfaith Cooperation is Essential for Global...
Dr Patel is a masterful storyteller who weaves personal struggles and triumphs with historical accounts of other civil rights movements to bring the reader to the present... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Rev.
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read
Excellent book. Well written.
Published 2 months ago by N Rush
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling account of an important subject: how we ...
A compelling account of an important subject: how we claim our faith AND are willing to embrace other faiths.
Published 3 months ago by anonymous
5.0 out of 5 stars ... of the locals in LTEs when it was made recommended reading for the...
This book was demonized by some of the locals in LTEs when it was made recommended reading for the students at TTU. The ones demonizing the book had never read it. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Wellwood
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great story of Hope and Peace.
Published 6 months ago by Susan H. Norwell & Associates
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Well written. Takes you through the whole story with lots of interest!!
Published 7 months ago by S. Behfar
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and Practical
For anyone wanting to better understand the power and influence of faith in modern society, this book by Eboo Patel is both important and illuminating. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Caroline
1.0 out of 5 stars THIS BOOK IS RETARD
Its useless book written by some loser dont waist your money its so stupid and you would regret it so retarded
Published 9 months ago by Peter ABDELNOUR
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More About the Author

Named by US News & World Report as one of America's Best Leaders of 2009, Eboo Patel is the Founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), a Chicago-based organization building the interfaith movement on college campuses. Author of the books "Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America" (Beacon Press, 2012), and "Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation" (Beacon Press, 2010) which won the Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion,Eboo is also a regular contributor to the Washington Post, USA Today, Huffington Post, NPR, and CNN. He served on President Obama's inaugural Advisory Council of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes scholarship. He was an Ashoka Fellow, part of a select group of social entrepreneurs whose ideas are changing the world, and was recently awarded the Guru Nanak Interfaith Prize, an award given to an individual to enhance awareness of the crucial role of religious dialogue in the pursuit of peace. Today, Eboo lives in Chicago with his wife, Shehnaz Mansuri, and their two sons.

"With "Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America," Eboo Patel establishes himself as the preeminent voice of the interfaith movement." -Paul Chaffee, The Interfaith Observer

To hear more from Eboo, follow him on Twitter @EbooPatel and "Like" him on Facebook at

Visit Interfaith Youth Core's website at "Like" them on Facebook at and follow them on Twitter @ifyc.

Photo credit: Chris Popio, 2012.


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