Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation” as Want to Read:
Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  1,492 ratings  ·  210 reviews
With a new afterword"
Acts of Faith" is a remarkable account of growing up Muslim in America and coming to believe in religious pluralism, from one of the most prominent faith leaders in the United States. Eboo Patel's story is a hopeful and moving testament to the power and passion of young people--and of the world-changing potential of an interfaith youth movement.

Hardcover, 189 pages
Published July 1st 2007 by Beacon Press (MA) (first published January 1st 2007)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.98  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,492 ratings  ·  210 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Jan 04, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Its a fascinating and super engaging look at one man's life and journey to understand his religious identity - and how that journey is universally experienced. Patel started a nonprofit organization to bring young people of diverse religious backgrounds together to spend a year doing service work together, and through that, come to understand and respect each others' cultures. He delves into the absolute need for religious pluralism, especially when fa ...more
Oct 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: religious and non-religious readers alike, community development practitioners, youth activists
Shelves: memoir-autobio
A wonderful book written by an incredible mind and spirit. Part autobiographical, part visionary, Acts of Faith recounts Patel's coming of age as an Indian-American Muslim alongside the development of a vision for a viable, pluralist America. In his words, “This is a story of returning to faith, of finding coherence, of committing to pluralism, and of the influences I owe my life to” (xix). This is a truly hope-inspiring read. I couldn't put this book down, as I was filled with a range of emotio ...more
"To see the other side, to defend another people, not despite your tradition but because of it, is the heart of pluralism."
Patel writes an excellent memoir of building a movement as he develops his own (religious, political, and social) identity. This is an excellent resource for people engaged with interfaith collaboration, but also for developing leaders in all stripes of social entrepreneurship. He paints a virtual how-to in identifying funding sources, encouraging community support, and sup
Michelle Rader
Feb 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This was a fascinating book on several levels: 1) as a memoir of what it is like to grow up in America as an Indian immigrant, 2) a personal journey of faith and 3) an appeal for people of different faiths to dialogue and work together.

His vision of religious pluralism is not one that says " all religions are the same and the differences don't really matter.". Instead he has real respect for the uniqueness of each religion, for following ones own convictions, for searching out truth. His vision
Derek Emerson
May 31, 2011 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2011-books-read
Patel is getting a lot of attention for his work, but frankly, it is not because of his writing. This book comes highly recommended not only from people I respect, but with big-name quotes and a major award. The message is stronger than the messenger, which is probably why. Patel is doing good work and he'll let you know that, although he tries to be humble (and fails miserably).

The book itself is disjointed. Part of it is about his own life, which can be summarized as upper middle-class kid has
Nov 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
To be honest, I was biased at the outset with regards to this book. I was determined to dismiss it as the work of yet another apologist begging for acceptance in to the mainstream. I was very pleasantly surprised to find that Dr. Patel is neither an apologist or desperate for "acceptance". Patel is an excellent writer and his journey from "white-washed" suburban desi to realistic pluralistic (after a stint as a revolutionary marxist) was riveting and inspiring. What resonated with me the most wa ...more
Beth G.
I knew Eboo slightly back in college - I was a year behind him, living in the same Residence Hall he talks about in the third chapter. His account of growing up Muslim-Indian-American and how that led him to a career in organizing interfaith youth service projects is both fascinating and well-told. His struggle to integrate the pieces of his identity will feel familiar to many young people of very different backgrounds, and his commitment to encouraging pluralism around the world is inspiring.
Apr 07, 2018 rated it liked it
This book is basically the author's sales pitch for his interfaith group in the narrative form of his extremely multicultural, politically radical life. The structure vaguely resembles a redemption story except that there doesn't seem to be a clear moment of redemption. Perhaps the audience he's addressing is his redemption, just as he promises to redeem their vision of America through his interfaith education program. There is a strong smell of the 1990s: the book faintly resembles A Child Call ...more
Jun 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this. Patel discusses his own faith journey, describes the birth of his organization (the Interfaith Youth Core, or IFYC), and outlines the need for us to create environments in which young people can explore their faith in pluralistic/interfaith settings. He manages to weave these three threads together into a really engaging story.

"This is a book," he writes, "about how some young people become champions of religious pluralism while others become the foot soldiers of religious t
Jan 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
Nice story, with a genuinely interesting message. Patel is an interfaith youth coordinator now, but his central point isn't that faith always makes people do great things. It's that faith can be a vehicle for violence and intolerance or it can be a channel for service to humanity and compassion, and which path a person takes is completely dependent on early influences. What people want, and especially young people, he says, is a role, a sense of shaping their world. Either path gives it to them. ...more
Jul 02, 2011 rated it liked it
There are several things the author advocates that resonated with me: 1) acknowledging the power of institutions to influence an individual's thought (and thus behavior); 2) focusing on youth as the drivers of social change; and 3) making service the nexus point for dialogue and collaboration.

However, I struggle with the author's treatment of the merits of religion, which I found to be superficial. He is right to point out that people can come together by identifying the variety of positive ele
Nick McRae
Aug 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I can't think of a time when I was more inspired than right now, having just finished Eboo Patel's spiritual memoir. I think he is right: we MUST engage American youth in interfaith dialog and service. It might be the only way to reverse the trend of bigotry and violence that seems to be growing every day in our country and in the world. I am moved; I hope you will be too. Are there sections of this book that, to the casual reader, may seem a little overdone and ultimately extraneous (for instan ...more
Dec 22, 2015 rated it liked it
It's a good book... yet I felt profoundly misled once I looked outside this book to learn more of the author's Islamic faith.

What he apparently is afraid to tell his audiences is that the Ismaili sect of Islam is considered so liberal that many Muslims would say the Ismailis are not Muslim at all.

This is particularly astounding given that it was Ismaili's who founded Al Hazar University, possibly the most respected Islamic center of learning on the planet. (It shifted from a Shia/Ismaili base to
Aug 13, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
I really liked Patel's ideas within this book, but I found it hard to follow/read at many times. There was a lot more history and religious definition that I think I expected from the book.

That being said, Patel is an amazing person! He has spoken at my college twice in the last 2 years and has blown me away! It is his charisma, flawless speech-writing, and desire for peace and understanding that drew me to this book. The writing is well-done and I could see bits of his personality shine throug
Feb 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012, non-fiction, spirit
Patel, an American Muslim of Indian descent, is the founder and director of the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), an organization that promotes interfaith service and dialog.

Patel makes a case that religious violence (suicide bombings, etc.) can and is being taught to youth around the world, and that if we wish to counter it we must teach youth a different response:an ethic of service that recognizes common values in a variety of religions while acknowledging and respecting the unique paths each tra
One of the most eloquent and empowering accounts I have encountered of an individual coming to terms with their faith, marginalized identities, and the desire to do good in the world. This is an amazing book with profound things to say about religion, youth and civic involvement. I'm going to recommend it to everyone I know.

April 2012 update: I reread Acts of Faith this week. Still wonderful, three years later. It is amazing how much this book has positively influenced how I see the world.
Nov 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book wandered quite a bit. Patel seems to be a self-promoter and often spent long paragraphs in praise of himself. I was hoping for less of him and more of...well, something that was not provided. As I've stated in other reviews, as an atheist, I can't understand anyone being beholden to a religion. Yet I seek to understand why and what others believe. This book did not serve my quest well.
Feb 19, 2010 rated it really liked it
Eboo Patel tells the inspiring story of forming the Interfaith Youth Core. He interweaves coming to terms with complex personal identity (in his case, Muslim, Indian, and American) with stories of the transformative power young people of faith can have when they band together for change. The writing is engaging and makes for a quick read.
Oct 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
i think i'm in love w/ eboo patel. no seriously, before i ever started the book, i had a dream that i met him at some fundraising dinner, and we were sitting on the same table. loved the book. much of it felt like he was takin words out of my mouth. if we only had more muslims like him in this world...sigh...
Tiffany George
Oct 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If we are indeed “each other’s harvest,” as Gwendolyn Brooks writes, then we have work to do, and Patel’s interfaith approach makes complete sense to me. As a person of faith, I want to understand other religions and see parallels.

Eboo Patel has written an inspiring book about building connections across the world’s religions. He is an American Muslim from India who grew up believing he could not be all three of those things simultaneously. Patel writes “a story of a generation of young people
Dan Salerno
Dec 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Eboo Patel begins his book by describing the lives of a few individuals who have committed acts of violence, based on their religious beliefs.

Early on he describes his intent. "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 conv
Mary Garganta
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This past week I was sitting in mass, attempting to listen to the homily over the loud squawkings of several 3 or 4-year-olds in the congregation, and trying to come to terms with the well of irritation swelling up inside me. I thought, "is there no youth group, no nursery???" and I felt my heart soften as I thought about what this situation must look like to them, barely out of babyhood and aching with a need to run and play while an old man at the front of the room talks about things to which ...more
Jan Dunlap
Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is such a good book! As a Muslim who grew up in America, Patel describes the experience of being bullied for his heritage while at the same time feeling alienated from it. His search for identity illuminates why so many young people are easy targets for radicalization and spreading hate across nationalities, ethnicities and even gender. His book also points to ways to help young people avoid that confusion and radicalization by offering them opportunities to serve others. Patel's story is b ...more
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: villanova
Patel goes where you'd expect, urging us to put aside our differences, hold hands, and pursue the common good together. He's clearly very educated, and tries to be teachable, but ends up as one of those folks whose minds are *too* open: everything he puts in is in danger of falling out.

This was 2017's One-Book Villanova. Patel is speaking on campus next week. Maybe I'll get to ask him a question.
Emily Snyder
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honestly reading this book felt really healing to me in some was just nice to immerse myself in the writing of someone who is deeply committed to pluralism and diversity and the ways that those values can benefit communities. I’m not very religious, but this book...almost made me want to be? At the very least it definitely inspired me to embrace the community around me and find ways to serve it, which I think is an important feeling to have right now.
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this on the recommendation of two colleagues, and was not disappointed. Patel is a very confident and insightful young man who does some great social analysis about what makes young people turn from a solid productive faith to a radicalized destructive religion. I actually marveled at his insights that I found were beyond some of the wisest and most mature faith leaders I know. Don't let the details about politics dissuade you from keeping on through this book. It's worth the read.
Jul 12, 2017 rated it liked it
This book is the One Book Villanova selection for this year. Eboo Patel is well educated and details how the Interfaith Youth Core was created. He explains that many of the radical individuals who have been suicide bombers and terrorists were just ordinary youths who were influenced by religious totalitarians. Eboo believes that if youths could instead be religious pluralists that there would be peace. The goal of the Interfaith Youth Core is to connect faith, social justice, and diversity.
Amanda Sie
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-it-in-skewl
Although this is about religious pluralism, it seems so relevant to literally Any Discussion That Is Polarizing Ever (even though it's obv not the same thing). This book came at a time that I needed some hope!!!! thx eboo :)
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
As a person who does not look for spirituality except for what is found in the natural world, I found the author's journey through many faiths very helpful in understanding the motivators for a faith-based life.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Faitheist: How An Atheist Found Common Ground With The Religious
  • The Hadj: An American's Pilgrimage to Mecca
  • Standing Alone in Mecca: An American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam
  • Living Islam Out Loud: American Muslim Women Speak
  • Speaking of Faith
  • Eternal Life: A New Vision: Beyond Religion, Beyond Theism, Beyond Heaven and Hell
  • Swinging on the Garden Gate: A Spiritual Memoir
  • Western Muslims and the Future of Islam
  • A New Religious America: How a "Christian Country" Has Become the World's Most Religiously Diverse Nation
  • Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas
  • Loaves and Fishes
  • The Myth of the Muslim Tide: Do Immigrants Threaten the West?
  • The Search for God at Harvard
  • The Nature of Doctrine
  • The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews, and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain
  • Grounded: Finding God in the World. A Spiritual Revolution
  • Any Day a Beautiful Change: A Story of Faith and Family
  • No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons Around Our Gay Loved Ones
See similar books…
Named by US News & World Report as one of America’s Best Leaders of 2009, Eboo Patel is the Founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC), a Chicago-based organization building the global interfaith youth movement. Author of the award-winning book Acts of Faith, Eboo is also a regular contributor to the Washington Post, USA Today and CNN. He served on President Obama’s inaugural Adviso ...more
“I thought about the meaning of pluralism in a world where the forces that seek to divide us are strong. I came to one conclusion: We have to save each other. It’s the only way to save ourselves.” 3 likes
“The tradition you were born into was your home, Brother Wayne told me, but as Gandhi once wrote, it should be a home with the windows open so that the winds of other traditions can blow through and bring their unique oxygen. “It’s good to have wings,” he would say, “but you have to have roots, too.” 2 likes
More quotes…