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5.0 out of 5 starsEncourages Updated Quran
Reviewed in the United States on April 9, 2017
I'm not a Muslim, but considering the issues of today, I have read many books to understand a religion that is foreign to me. This book is excellent, how the author urges his son, in plain English, to keep his faith (if he wants), but that also means living it in an up-to-date way, i.e., tolerant. Interpreting the Quran must be done in the light of all the amazing new knowledge about the world and living with others in a large world, that were not a part of life in 700AD, when the Prophet was walking the deserts of Arabia. I love the advice. If you're looking for a lot of facts and data, they're not here. It's expressing feelings, and is very human. It is soft and short, but it doesn't sugar-coat crazed zealotry and terrorism. I recommend it, especially to Christians and atheists (like me) who may be tempted to think the main message of traditional Islam is consistent with the horrors and the terrorists' hyper-intolerance we see on TV today. Now, if only the imams in the Middle-East would read and heed, the author would have really accomplished something.
5.0 out of 5 starsUniversal book on responsibility in the modern world.
Reviewed in the United States on January 29, 2017
I couldn't put this book down. I read it in one sitting and now have to go back and reread it again to fully absorb these wonderful ideas. It's a book that has application beyond one religion. It applies to all of us as members of groups with which we have ties. More than being about Muslim, it's about being a responsible citizen in this complex and diverse modern world. .
5.0 out of 5 starsThe book is a call to take responsibility
Reviewed in the United States on August 9, 2017
I took this book with me on holiday and read it with great interest. I’m not a Muslim, so it was a wonderful way for me to learn more about Islam, one of the world’s most important religions. I enjoyed the author’s honest and open style as I read his intimate letters to his eldest son, which are in fact letters meant for all young men and women of faith (and even for those who may not have faith).
The book was easy to read and entertaining too. I felt how deeply the author thought and reflected about the serious issues affecting Islam today. I particularly enjoyed his views about how young Muslims should adopt a more tolerant view towards other religions and non-Muslims as well.
It is a very timely book given the current troubled times we live in, when we often hear of terrorism and horrendous acts of violence being committed by fanatics in the name of Islam. The book is a call to take responsibility, to find the courage to question, to challenge and ultimately to strike the right balance and decide what version of Islam makes sense to anyone who calls himself or herself a Muslim in today’s world.
“The more difficult and perhaps more valuable sacrifice a person can make is to face the complexity of modern life and live life to its fullest – morally, spiritually, and socially. It is far more difficult to deal with the troubles thrown up by a globalised economy, the complexities of modern city life, and the utter sense of futility that all of us feel as some stage. And morally far more important. This is the true challenge of a religiously inspired life.”
5.0 out of 5 starsChristian looking to better understand Islam
Reviewed in the United States on February 20, 2017
This is indeed written for Muslims, but it explains a lot about Islamic ideas and cultures in a beginner format making the book impactful and informative to all. I'm thankful for the opportunity Ghobash has given me to better understand Islam and today's world. This isn't just a book. It's an experience.
5.0 out of 5 starsInsightful and thought-provoking
Reviewed in the United States on August 19, 2017
In a series of short letters addressed to his son, Omar Saif Ghobash touches on many of the pressing issues the world faces today in the context of a Muslim individual. He draws from his own personal experiences, as well as general Arabian history to pose difficult but important questions about what it means to grow up, to forge your own beliefs and identity in the 21st Century. I found this work to be very insightful and valuable even as a non-Muslim. It puts into perspective the conflict between extremists and the rest of the Muslim community (a vast majority). Having been an expat teenager in Bahrain during the Arab Spring, I have witnessed the growing violence of the Shia-Sunni conflict first hand. Because I struggled to fully understand it at the time, I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the historical context of these fundamental differences in the book. Ghobash introduces the schools of thought that is rooted in the major sects of Islam in order to raise questions about how much sense it makes to dogmatically follow the teachings at face value today.
Individualism is a theme in many of the letters. Ghobash conveys the importance of a sense of personal responsibility, the questioning of presented information, and an open-minded pursuit of knowledge in multiple contexts. The fact that Ghobash himself is half-Arab, half-Russian, and was educated in the West (UCL and Oxford) certainly played a role in this stance. While he does discuss several sensitive topics such as gender equality and sexuality, he presents his ideas and questions in a thought-provoking and inoffensive way. He does not try to shove any idea down your throat, but rather encourages a non-violent debate of ideas, acceptance of individual differences, and a pragmatic moral compass that is iterable as we look to coexist amongst different peoples, cultures, and beliefs.
An important read that I would recommend to both my Muslim and non-Muslim friends.
5.0 out of 5 starsWow! A must read for every human being on this planet, especially westerners!
Reviewed in the United States on December 12, 2017
As a westerner, Christian and AMERICAN...I was weary about reading Ghobash’s words. Yet I found every word to be wise, thoughtful, meaningful, sincere, beautiful and most importantly, personal. Ghobash writes to his son as a father would do to any child. He would do the same if he had a daughter. Go read it now. We ALL must understand the ways of all people no matter what faith, what background, or what beliefs. Thank you Omar Saif Ghobash for sharing your life, your emotions, your faith, your beliefs and your visions for a better world. You have shined a light on the Arab, Muslim and Islamist world in magnificent way. I am glad it is the answer for you.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 23, 2017
This book is brilliant because it is such a breeze of fresh air, in an otherwise increasingly gloomy and lost Islamic World. The author is the UAE Ambassador to Moscow, and this first book of his is a compilation of a series of letters intended to his young son, advising him on how to navigate the world as a Muslim.
The ingenuity of this book is the emphasis of individualism, and of the need for one to be unafraid of questioning everything around him. The author does not make extremely confrontational or controversial conclusions, but rather encourages his son to keep an open mind, to develop his individuality and not take anything for granted. The manner in which he speaks to his son is very well-refined, cultivated and respects whatever course of action his son will end up doing. The advice is powerful, but not highly charged. He does not force him to take any certain stance, but rather teases his curiosity and fuels his passion to explore and learn. He mentions Nietzche, Tolstoy, Greek philosophy and the Bible in an intriguing way, without explicitly 'pushing' his son to become exposed to them. He addresses topics like freedom, equality of women, role models and violence. He also tackles more sensitive topics, or using his own words 'self-censored topics', like homosexuality. He gracefully asks his son to consider how homosexuals should be viewed if they were born into this state and could not do anything about it. The book does get a bit repetitive sometimes, and the writing does occasionally become a little muddled, but that is such a trivial observation when analyzing the impact of the book as a whole.
A very insightful and more importantly much-needed book for today's young Muslims. As radical and extreme views sadly increasingly dominate the Islamic thought landscape today, the need to promote individualism and the insistence on inquiry and reasoning is more important than ever. A Western reader might not find the book astounding in its style; but it definitely is revolutionary according to the prevailing general values in the Islamic world that do not place much importance to the need for continuous empowerment of the individual.
This book graciously and assertively does that. I just hope that the book has the ripple effect it deserves across the Islamic world.
5.0 out of 5 starsThoughtful Words For The Next Generation
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 3, 2017
A wonderful book of advice from father to son - grappling with so many complex, challenging and sensitive issues. If you have any interest in the World around you, and even if you do not, then I highly recommend this.