Acts of Faith – The Story of An American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation – by Eboo Patel
Patel, Eboo – Acts of Faith – The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation, Beacon Press, Boston, MA Copyright © 2007 by Eboo Patel.
I finished this book the week before CNN began to air their three night special entitled “God’s Warriors.” If you haven’t made time to watch God’s Warriors for the 6 hour duration, you should. If you haven’t read Eboo Patel’s book, Acts of Faith – The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation,you must.
I often wonder why there is a dearth of literature in the “emerging church” movement written about inter-faith cooperation and tangible efforts to do just that. Perhaps this book might lead those who are involved in the inter-faith bridge building to consider enlightening the emergent crowd. Eboo Patel leads the way.
Religious fundamentalism continues to be the spawning grounds for extremism that continues to ravage the soul of mankind. It is through the efforts of Eboo Patel and the InterFaith Youth Core (www.IFYC.org), that young adults from all faith persuasions are challenged to learn to live with one another, in collaborative harmony.
The book recounts Patel’s personal struggle with forging and cherishing his Muslim identity and faith, as an American, and then launching the InterFaith Youth Core as his vehicle for creating pluralistic understanding within the next generation of young adults who will become the leaders of our world. This book is about how one man decided to become part of the international interfaith youth movement.
As Patel says, “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.” P. 180
This book chronicles how Eboo Patel came to participate in the movement of religious pluralism. In his own words, “Movements re-create the world. A movement is a growing group of people who believe so deeply in a new possibility that they participate in making it a reality. They won’t all meet. They won’t even know everybody else’s names. But somehow, they all have the feeling that people on the other side of the city or country or the world believe in the same idea, burn with the same passion, and are taking risks for the same dream.” P. 181.
What’s the meaning of this term “pluralism” from Patel’s standpoint? He writes, “To see the other side, to defend another people, not despite your tradition but because of it, is the heart of pluralism.” P. 179.
In a world threatened and fractured by the isolationist requirements of religious fundamentalism and extremism, pluralism possesses the essential antidote. In Patels’ words:
“America is a nation that has constantly been rejuvenated by immigrants. For centuries, they have added new notes to the American song.” P. 176.
“The waters of faith, says one scholar, are so clear that they pick up the colors of the rocks they flow over.” P. 176
“Violence committed in the name of a religion is really violence emanating from the heart of a particular interpreter.” P. 141.
“Apartheid in South Africa was a violation of the spiritual principles of human togetherness.” P. 116.
In an interview with the Dalai Lama, he said: “Religions must dialogue, but even more, they must come together to serve others. Service is the most important. And common values, finding common values between different religions. And as you study the other religions, you must learn more about your own and believe more in your own.” P. 96.
“I realized that it was precisely because of America’s glaring imperfections that I should seek to participate in its progress, carve a place in its promise, and play a role in its possibility. And at its heart and at its best, America was about pluralism.” P. 89.
A wonderful book. A guy I would like to meet. Consider joining Eboo and the Interfaith Youth Core at their convention in Chicago this fall entitled “Crossing The Faith Line” October 28th – 30th 2007. Go to IFYC.org.