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Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation Paperback – June 1, 2008

4.6 out of 5 stars 95 customer reviews

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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.

Review

“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, Beliefnet.com

“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
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press; Reprint edition (June 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0807077275
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807077276
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,201,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By William Dahl VINE VOICE on September 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover
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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This book changed my life. Patel, who studied religion and society as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford and founded the Interfaith Youth Corps, writes about his own religious formation (or lack thereof) and how he views pluralism and interreligious dialogue and service.

Patel, the son of Indian Muslim immigrants, grew up in Chicago with little sense of religious identity. It was simply never discussed either in higher school or college. It was only after becoming a part of the Catholic Worker movement and meeting Brother Wayne Teasdale that Patel began to quest after his own religious identity. After all, as even the Dalai Lama told him, you should stick with your heritage and your roots.

Patel went back to Islam not in a mosque, but through contacts with people from other traditions. In other words, his "faith formation had occurred in the midst of religious diversity" (73). While sitting in Buddhist meditation, Islamic prayers he had learned in childhood came up in his mind, spontaneously working their way out. This led to another realization, one which the IYC is based on: interreligious learning and contact does not weaken religious identity into a kind of bland syncretism. It strengthens religious identity by helping one see how their tradition is unique and bringing them into the position of speaking for their tradition. The IYC is founded on Patel's impatience with the way ecumenical counsels had nice banquets with lots of speeches that never seeped down into the actual parishes and religious adherents. Drawing youth into interfaith service is doubly important, as the youth are the future of the world.

My religious formation also happened in the context of pluralism. Even as I was in RCIA, I was sitting at the local zendo. At first this posed no problem.
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Paperback
Eboo Patel is very smart and is a former Rhodes scholar. He has doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford and 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. "
He tells two stories in this book.

He tells his own personal story, one of growing up Muslim in America, being bullied by other kids because he was brown and Muslim, and his rejection of and later return to the Muslim religion that he was raised in.

The other story that he tells is how impressionable teenagers are brought into extremist youth groups because their religions have failed to engage them in positive ways. He gives examples of Christian, Jewish and Hindu extremist groups as well as those that are Muslim.

Eboo's personal story is interesting and I learned things about the Muslim religion that I did not know. He is an Ismaili Musilim, part of the Shia group that follows an Imam who is a supreme leader to them rather like the Pope is to the Catholics. Their current Imam is known as the Aga Kahn. Eboo's parents wanted him to learn service and charity to others and so they made him participate in a YMCA youth service group, which he feels helped to give him identity and kept him from possibly falling prey to extremist Muslim groups.

Eboo feels that extremist groups are more political than religious and that none of them really represent their religions as their religions are meant to be practiced. He recognizes that extremist groups give huge amounts of money to create youth indoctrination groups, which certainly is true of the Muslim extremist groups.
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