Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

My Isl@m: How Fundamentalism Stole My Mind–and Doubt Freed My Soul

Posted by nliakos on April 4, 2015

by Amir Ahmad Nasr (St. Martin’s Press 2013, ISBN 1-250-01679-9)

Amir Ahmad Nasr, aka Drima (author of the blog The Sudanese Thinker) was born in Sudan, grew up partly in Qatar and partly in Indonesia , and has traveled in many different countries, chronicles his search for truth as a teenager and young adult. Although his parents were tolerant of other faiths, he was impressed by fundamentalist and intolerant thinking in school. However, the urge to become a jihadist was balanced against the more rationalist views of people he met in his life and most particularly, online after he discovered the blogosphere and began to write his own blog in 2006 . To his credit, Nasr followed and read the entire spectrum of bloggers, from the wacko Muslim jihadists to the wacko Israeli and American far-right, and everything in between, and he found kindred souls among Muslim bloggers and journalists like Sandmonkey, Mona Eltahawy, Wael Abbas, and others.

The real focus of the book is his religious, not political, journey. He employs the metaphor of a marriage in which he is the groom and Islam is the bride. In Part One, “The Arranged Marriage,” he describes being born and educated in a purely Muslim world. Part Two, “The Fall from Grace,” describes how doubts about his beliefs began to plague him, and in Part Three, “The Painful Heartbreak,” he loses his faith in God. Part Four is “the Messy Divorce,” in which he stops even the semblance of religious practice, and part Five, “The Reconciliation,” narrates how he found a way to reconcile religion and rational thinking. Along the way, there is a lot of angst; I can’t imagine how he managed to actually complete his university studies what with all the blogging, blogging conferences, and reading about religion, politics, and philosophy, but somehow he did. I suppose that his passion will mellow as he gets older. As he describes sleepless nights spent mourning his lost love, I thought about how questions of religion and politics can  consume us when we are university students and in our early twenties. For better or for worse, the kind of passion we feel at 20 is likely to diminish by the time we are 40 or 60. So it will be for Drima, in all probability. I may start following his blog, just to see what happens.

I admire Nasr’s determination to be honest with himself (even when it makes him look bad) and to continually seek truth, even when it is inconvenient or painful. He seems like a kind and good person at heart.

I learned a lot from this book, which I just picked off the biography shelves at my local library. That is always a positive thing.

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