Joey's Reviews > Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation

Acts of Faith by Eboo Patel
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Sep 28, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: non-fiction, religion
Read in September, 2009

"I believe that the twenty-first century will be shaped by the question of the faith line. On one side of the faith line are the religious totalitarians. Their conviction is that only one interpretation of one religion is a legitimate way of being, believing, and belonging on earth. Everyone else needs to be cowed, or converted, or condemned, or killed. On the other side of the faith line are the religious pluralists, who hold that people believing in different creeds and belonging to different communities need to learn to live together. Religious pluralism is neither mere coexistence nor forced consensus. It is a form of proactive cooperation that affirms the identity of the constituent communities while emphasizing that the well-being of each and all depends on the health of the whole. It is the belief that the common good is best served when each community has a chance to make its unique contribution (Introduction XV)."

"Religious totalitarians have the unique advantage of being able to oppose each other and work together at the same time. Osama bin Laden says that Christians are out to destroy Muslims. Pat Robertson says that Muslims want only to dominate Christians. Bin Laden points to Pat Robertson as evidence of his case. Robertson points to bin Laden as proof of his. Bin Laden says he is moving Muslims to his side of the faith line. Robertson claims he is moving Christians to his. But if you look from a certain angle, you see that they are not on opposite sides at all. They are right next to each other, standing should to shoulder, a most unlikely pair, two totalitarians working collectively against the dream of a common life together (Introduction XV)."

"A favorite explanation of people who are suspicious of religion in general, or other people's religions in particular, is that religious texts themselves command violence, and so it should not surprise us when believers obey. This argument is particularly marshaled against Muslims, with Islamophobes and Muslim totalitarians alike circulating papers that cite only the parts of the Qur'an that deal with violence. [However,:] violence committed in the name of a religion is really violence emanating from the heart of a particular interpreter (141)."
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