8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: The Perfect Gentleman: A Muslim Boy Meets the West (Hardcover)
The few autobiographies I've read recently have been of the "dreadful childhood/angst-ridden youth/harrowing years of therapy" variety - sometimes worthy, but rarely a fun read. Imran Ahmad's is different. Transplanted from a different continent to a Britain still struggling with issues of religion and race, he is, quite simply, himself. Unpretentious, warm and funny, his account of life as the son of middle class parents starting their new lives is endearing and always positive.
His childhood and student days are described frankly and with a remarkable degree of tolerance - something he does not always receive in return. One has to read between the lines to see what life must have been like for a sensitive little boy, trying to be a good child at a time when virtue can seem an old-fashioned notion. His adolescent soul contends with the tension between his earthly desires and his spiritual obligations as we see the young Imran set off for Stirling University in Scotland.
Hoping against hope that he has been placed in a mixed hall of residence so that he may finally encounter the mystery that is woman, he is dismayed to find that he's been assigned to an all-male one, possibly in well-meant deference to his religious views. This doesn't entirely discourage his attempts to meet girls, though, as we soon learn.
I couldn't put this book down. It has done more to convince me of the goals we humans - of all religious persuasion - have in common than many a more academic book; something due almost entirely to the author's generous spirit. In a society where misfortune is always someone else's fault, we watch this young man take hold of his life in the growing knowledge that he, not fate (nor his tutors), is responsible for his success or failure. Many of my questions about Islam have been answered, but in a gentle, good-humoured way. There is no preaching and no antagonism anywhere. This book could change the way you think.
Like others, I read the book over a couple of days - and can't wait for the sequel.
Finally, I have to mention the cover; it's almost worth buying the book just for that. You have to read the book to see why it's so apt.