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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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Top Customer Reviews
Toward the end of his narrative, he describes the opportunities to meet with fellow Arab bloggers in Lebanon, Tunisia, the United States, Istanbul, Beirut and Norway at international conferences. This in turn leads to closer connections with fellow bloggers during the "Arab Spring" of 2011 and the overthrow of dictatorships in Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, with protests of varying sizes against repressive governments in Bahrain, Sudan, Oman, Yemen, Morocco and Syria. Many of these demonstrations and revolutions are fueled by pictures, news clips, you-Tube videos, tweets and blogs from a new generation of young Arabs not content with a lack of freedom and an imposition of religious law and practices on the civil law of their countries. A communications revolution had helped produce political revolutions which are still in progress. On a personal level, Amir is pursuing a Master's at the International Institute of Islamic thought and Civilization in Kuala Lampur. He concludes with this beautiful summary of his journey.
"I am neither just Arab nor just African. Neither just Eastern nor just Western. I am Sudanese Afro-Arab by birth and proud heritage, Qatari and Malaysian by migration, Western and American by post-elementary knowledge, affinity and education, science-affirming mystic by integral philosophical contemplation, lover of my Beloved by Sufi orientation, libertarian-leaning by political persuasion, writer, activist and entrepreneur by life vocation, and cosmopolitan world citizen by choice and education. I am the influence of all those parts in motion, but not their sum, for they have no sum... I embraced Islam not because I think it has a monopoly over spiritual truth, but because its mystical poetry and the language of Sufism resonates more with my heart than does the language of Christianity or Buddhism." (p. 316)
If you want some insights into Islam today, the blogosphere and internet revolution, a glimpse of the broad depths of Islam in history and the "Arab Spring" of the past couple years, you cannot do better than reading Amir's story and reflections.
Amen and thank you Amir!
Nasr's struggle with Islam really resonated with me, since there are many parallels between Islam and Christianity (though fortunately, I was raised in a much more tolerant sect of Christianity than Nasr's Islam). I'm impressed by how he and other bloggers gave chipped away at intolerant ideologies and authoritarian regimes, culminating in the Arab Spring. Ultimately, this isn't just a book about Islam, it's a book about how reason, debate, and free exchange of ideas (via the Internet) can liberate us.
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