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My Isl@m: How Fundamentalism Stole My Mind---and Doubt Freed My Soul Hardcover – June 11, 2013
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In this compelling, reverse-faith story, Nasr takes his reader through his journey from being a fervent believer in Islam to his increasing questioning of the faith. Born in Sudan but raised in Qatar and Malaysia, Nasr identifies himself as a “third-culture” kid, never fully feeling like he belongs to the country where he lives. Nasr explains how, as a child, he was heavily influenced in his faith by his teachers. Although raised in a moderate household, Nasar became increasingly conservative in his approach to religion, but that position began to change with his involvement in the blogosphere. Speaking with Muslims and non-Muslims from different countries, he was inspired to start his own blog and record his evolving attitude toward the Muslim faith. A moving chronicle of one man’s spiritual transformation. --Eve Gaus
“My Isl@m displays the charm of a good blog: irreverent, nonchalant, open to fresh ideas, generous to other writers, ostentatiously unpretentious and secretly grandiose. Mr. Nasr appears to be convinced that his own intellectual trajectory from medieval-style Quran-memorizing to thoughtful dude, digitally loquacious,reflects a deep trend in world history, with the Internet as prime mover. He never openly states this conviction. And yet it animates the book, and the possibility that he may be right imparts to his pages an electric glow, as if from an LCD screen.” ―The Wall Street Journal
“Structured wittily around a love affair with Islam, Nasr's account is straightforward, fluent and full of lively allusions for further readings. A candid, cosmopolitan look at the experience of Islam in the digital age.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“Nasr seamlessly blends memoir with political thought and activism. The book smoothly follows his journey out of a simplistic understanding of Islam, through rationalism and semi-atheism, towards a conversion to Sufism. Personal history--particularly his expatriate childhood--is the book's strongest aspect, delivered in Nasr's casual, conversational tone. Nasr's insight into the world of young Arab bloggers, including many of the activists behind the Arab Spring, makes this a valuable and enjoyable read.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Amir is one of the most exciting and dynamic Muslim voices to come on the stage in years. Read this funny and enlightening book and find out why.” ―Reza Aslan, international best-selling author of No god but God and How to Win a Cosmic War
“As a former Christian fundamentalist, I deeply resonate with Amir's faith journey. Regardless of your religious background, if you're struggling with belief or if you're curious about how the digital revolution is impacting religious thought and empowering a new generation of young activists, this book is a must!” ―Michael Dowd, bestselling author of Thank God for Evolution
“This is the passionate, skeptical, tech-savvy voice of a new age of Islam. Through the lens of his own life, Nasr sheds light on a generation of revolutionary life-hackers poised to change the global conversation about religion and politics.” ―G. Willow Wilson, author of The Butterfly Mosque and Alif the Unseen
“My Isl@m is a beautiful story about love, heartbreak, and redemption. Read it, and be inspired.” ―Salman Ahmad, lead-singer of Junoon and author of Rock & Roll Jihad
“My Isl@m is a love letter to freedom of speech. As Nasr wrestles with oppression, mental and physical, personal and political, his story consistently turns on his ability to find new information, often from surprising sources, and eventually from his own ability to speak as well as listen.” ―Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody
“My Isl@m is an important and significant book, especially at this time in our history. Amir shows both the downside and, as important, the beautiful upside of Islam as a religion, particularly when it is viewed through an Integral lens, which is how religion in general will need to be viewed if it is to survive into the future as a positive force. This is the right message, at the right time, from the right person.” ―Ken Wilber, author of A Brief History of Everything
“The post 9/11 world has seen an outpouring of vitriol against the Muslim faith. This book provides an antidote to such thinking, from a man who grew up immersed in an environment too few of us understand. This is a brave and moving work that touches on Palestine, terrorism, web activism, love and life in a way that shows the nuances within Islam. I salute the desire to reject fundamentalism. It makes us question what the ‘war on terror' has done to us all.” ―Antony Loewenstein, best-selling author of My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolution
“Like every age, ours is one of political and religious unrest, of fanaticism, persecution and rebellion. But today, people have the technological tools to be heard–despite the powers that be. The Internet is not only a force for quick communication, but for unheard-of access to education. And Amir Ahmad Nasr shows in his powerful, timely and provocative work how he was able to move beyond a narrow worldview into one that embraces liberty, freedom, brotherhood and even belief. My Isl@m is an essential book for these dangerous, exciting times.” ―Michael R. Drew, co-author, Pendulum: How Past Generations Shape Our Present and Predict Our Future
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He really is a fantastic writer and has a huge insight into the religion...and how the internet blogs and writings from people that are changing the world and bringing change to many of this ME countries. I think he is very brave to challenge the narrative that being taught in many mosque to children and adults, supposedly by people that are protectors of Islam, but really are following a prescribed story of their own beliefs. He found those beliefs confusing and wrong and so this book was his personal journey to free his soul and mind and to find peace. He finds strength in himself and others to find his own path and his own view of Islam. He is very intelligent guy to go to the lengths he went and to the hardship he suffered because of it. You will learn a lot by reading this book and will help better understand the world and this religion.
"During my life, in matters of religion, I realized I had spiraled upward from a tribal “warrior consciousness” and a traditional worldview, to a very modernist, rational perspective, to a somewhat postmodern view, and by then was reaching for a more integrated place that I intuited but struggled to see clearly or to articulate until a few years ago.
In other words, a more integral view. And what a wonderful place it is to be."
As a chaplain at a major University on the East coast, I see a growing Muslim population on campus (we have 250 Muslim students attending Jumu'ah and it is held in a Christian Church!). Our students are hungry for the integrated place where the modernist, rational perspective is integrated with the passion for service and devotion to the Beloved. Amir has pointed to a way forward.
The book would have been better if the last two chapters (13 and 14) were omitted, since the author does not say how his "enlightement" affected his blogging. Also, the author should have gone a bit easy on the use of the word "hate" (I counted about 24 instances of "I hate" and variations of it).
The author seems to have realised very early that organized religion is junk food for the soul, but freeing himself from it was an excruciating and tortuous task. The author had to do a lot of reading (in English) and had to internalize a lot of what he learnt. Would such a (major) intelectual effort be required from any average person who wants to free his soul? What about those who have NOT made the same faith journey? Are they stuck in the "I hate this", and "I really hate that" mental state?
Perhaps some governments decided to arabise the schooling system in order to have less folks like Amir Ahmed Nasr. It takes only one generation to prevent most from being able to drink from the same knowledge sources that the author benefited from.
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