Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Allah Akbar !

Allah Akbar ! If you’re like me and that phrase in Arabic (it translates to “God is great”) is about the limit of your knowledge of Arabic and Islam -- have I got the book for you. No god but God by Reza Aslan.

It was recommended to me by a priest and it was exactly what I was looking for -- a brief history of Islam.

The book is only some 260 pages (plus the glossary and index) yet it provides a wealth of information. It will take you from the beginnings of Islam up until today, explaining much of the culture along the way. I’ll leave the details for you to discover but I’d like to make some observations.

God is indeed great. And good. I wonder how many of us can open our eyes (or our hearts) enough to see the similarities between what is simplistically portrayed on TV as a war cry (Allah Akbar) and a child’s simple blessing before a meal (God is great, God is good...) In a land soaked in hate and blood, there is indeed “no god but God.” The god of Abraham is the god worshipped by Muslims, Jews and Christians. I can not think of a crueler, more shameful irony.

I don’t know if it was Mr. Aslan’s intention to point out these similarities or if he was just presenting the facts as he knows them. Regardless, it was what stuck with me after reading the book. In the opening pages, you will read an exchange between Mr. Aslan and a train conductor. He tells us this is a common greeting among Muslims. “Salaam alay-kum”. And the customary reply: “Walay-kum salaam.” ”Peace be with you.” And also with you, Reza. Thanks for writing such a wonderful book.

Don Brown
December 13, 2006

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