Reviewer Chris Phillips: Chris is a veteran editor for friends
and family as well as most of his employment positions. He often
finds himself reading a book and correcting problems he discovers,
even after their works have been published by well-known
publishers. Chris enjoys writing to authors, when
possible, and discussing problems he has seen in the reading of their
work. And as he states, “there is always the chance for great
intelligent conversation whenever creative minds get together.”
Author: Ali Eteraz
Author: Ali Eteraz
Eteraz has written an autobiography. He gives a direct and vivid gaze into his life growing up in Pakistan and as a Muslim. The book details his history from birth and before (his parents actions are recounted) to the present, the time of the book’s writing. It depicts an interesting journey from his blind faith to moderate conservatism in Islam.
There are several dynamics utilized to illustrate these transitions. The story of his parent’s beliefs and personal trials begins the tale but fades into the shadows by the book’s end. Much as anyone else matures and moves on, Eteraz has shown how this relationship and others changed from dependence to independence with him, but also changed him.
Another dynamic is name changing. When he was born, he was named Abir ul Islam which means “Perfume of Islam.” Throughout his life he changes his name a total of 5 times eventually settling on Ali Eteraz, which means “Noble Protest.” Each name change defines Eteraz as a different person with respect to Islam, his family and the world in general. In turn each name describes much of what goes on in his life.
Although there are several terms and turns of a phrase that were unfamiliar to this reviewer, the definition or explanation are smooth. This style lends itself to the smooth readability of the book.
Eteraz uses the central theme of his growth with respect to Islam as it parallels his life and how he lives it. In many ways this spiritual theme lends itself to a better understanding of moderate Islam and definitely opens the understanding of moderate Muslims throughout the world. Although the case is depicted via Eteraz’s personal perspective, his encounters with others throughout the Muslim world reveal that his feelings and interpretations are similar to many in that world. His responses and reactions to terrorist activities is one of horror that someone could interpret the Quran as a reason for violence.
As Eteraz deals with the issues of Islamic fundamentalists and terrorists, he maintains a “balanced” perspective. The same smooth style and logical presentation reveal more about Islam than all the “noise” created from terrorists and extremists. He tries to understand the fundamentalists since his parents are active in such a group in Louisiana. Even here he attempts to effect a rational change while acknowledging the differing opinions involved. In Book IV The Postmodern – Amir ul Islam, Chapter 8, pgs 268 – 271, he deals with the issues of a conservative Pakistani-American watching the Twin Towers collapse from his Washington, D.C. office. His chagrin that it was done by extremists claiming divine sanction is the theme throughout the final section of the book. He becomes a reformer in an attempt to change the ascendency of these extremists into positions of power in the Muslim world. His ultimate conclusion is that reason and common sense would dictate the moderate position, but it will take dramatic changes in the cultures to make it effective nation-wise.
Eteraz is consistent and focused in describing his life in this context. He shows friends, family and lovers in a descriptive manner that is fair to the people involved but also revealing about their motivations and thoughts. This contributes to the “real” feel for the book and the writing style that makes this book work.
The title comes from an illustrative quote in the Quran 17:61. Where Iblis, Islam’s Satan, refers to Mankind as “Children of Dust” and implies that all Men are beneath his notice and insignificant.
The book is excellently written. It is very enjoyable as well as
informative. It should be read by anyone attempting to understand
Islam and Muslims in general. Students of religion or spirituality
will be enlightened and entertained by this book.
The reviewer received the book directly from the author. Publisher