Seeking Father Khaliq Reviewed By Norm Goldman of Bookpleasures.com
Reviewer & Author Interviewer, Norm Goldman. Norm is the Publisher & Editor of Bookpleasures.com.
He has been reviewing books for the past fifteen years when he retired from the legal profession.
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Author: William Peace
Publisher: Strategic Book Publishing & Rights Co. LLC
Sooner or later in everyone's life there comes a time when we should take inventory of our accomplishments, our successes, our disappointments, our relationship to God , our identity and even our legacy we wish to leave to our family and friends.
For Kareem al-Busiri, professor of philosophy at the American University in Cairo and the protagonist in William Peace's latest novel, Seeking Father Khaliq, the process of self-discovery begins when he meets a mysterious woman, Princess Basheera, who engages him to find someone by the name of Father Khaliq. The princess didn't exactly promise him a reward if he did find Father Khaliq but assured him nevertheless that he would be rewarded for finding him.
From this point onward Peace weaves an intriguing tale wherein the professor, with very little to go on, embarks on a physical and spiritual voyage that will help him achieve a better understanding of himself, learning what is faith and making sense of three of the world's great monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam and the important roles played by Moses and the prophets, Jesus, and Muhammad within these religions. The professor confesses that he always felt his life was quite satisfactory, apart from the loss of his beloved wife Elizabeth, however it was rather two-dimensional and lacked color. He describes himself succinctly as “a dedicated realist, who sees the world for what it is; an unpredictable tableau of chaos with occasional moments of blissful calm.”
In his quest to find
Father Khaliq the professor journeys to several important holy
venues including a pilgrimage to the Hajj, which is an annual Islamic
pilgrimage to Mecca, the most holy city of Muslims. For Muslims, this
is a mandatory religious duty and must be carried out at least once
in their lifetime by all adult Muslims. It is one of the five pillars
The next stop on his itinerary is the Masjid al-Nanawi
(Prophets Mosque), a mosque established and originally built by the
Islamic prophet Muhammad, situated in the city of Medina in Saudi
Arabia and is the second holiest site in Islam.
From here the
professor follows the Arba'een Pilgrimage to Karbala in Iraq, a
pivotal point in history and the largest public gathering held at the
end of the 40-day mourning period following Ashura, the religious
ritual for the commemoration of the Prophet Mohammad's grandson
Hossein ibn Ali's death. Jerusalem is next on the agenda where the
professor explores the Dome of the Rock Museum and the Western Wall
or Kotel which is all that remains of the great Jewish temple that
the Romans destroyed almost two thousand years ago.
The professor also walks the Via Dolorosa with a Christian guide even though he knows as a Muslim the sanctions on apostasy. Not to be left out is a trip to Rome with a female colleague who had been the best friend of his late wife who incidentally he falls in love with but is too shy to express to her his romantic feelings.
Woven into the tale are the conflicts that exist within the professor's own family that are set against the unfortunate and at times horrendous realities existing in Egypt and throughout the Middle East. One of his sons is an attorney and also a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, who apparently is involved with providing assistance to terrorists in the Egyptian Sinai. The other son is in the military and chooses to be stationed in the Sinai against his father's wishes.
At various points in the novel the professor questions the existence of Princess Basheera and ponders the thought that perhaps she just a figment of his imagination? He also questions if she was trying to mislead him or involve him in some kind of scam? And if she was, what was her motive, money, power, sex? And why is she so intent on motivating him to find Father Khaliq? What is in it for her? What is in it for him? And that is the big mystery? Does he find Father Khaliq? You will have to read the novel to discover a surprising revelation and one that makes sense of the story.
There are many triumphs of
this novel particularly Peace's interesting exploration of Islam and
some elements of Christianity and Judaism as well as pondering such
questions as what motivates most of the pilgrims to experience the
Hajj? Another is its depiction
of time and place relating to the various dangerous flash points in
Egypt and the Middle East where unfortunately thousands of lives are
painfully lost. The dialogue is realistic and in addition to
creating a lifelike protagonist that vividly captures the male
Egyptian mindset, Peace has also created secondary characters that
are vividly well-blended into the novel. Moreover, he writes with a
great deal of subtlety, maturity and compassion about the complexity
and fragility of human relationships.