A Challenging Read: Wholly Different

Wholly-Different-e1488317368277I debated a long time about this book review. Should I write it? Should I post it?

The book has issues. The author often repeats herself, making the book much longer than necessary. The pain and anger that permeated her early life can be seen in her forceful and unapologetic approach. Her conclusions are certainly not politically correct. Many who read this book will be upset by her claims, and I hate making people upset. Yet, author Nonie Darwish presents both information I was ignorant of, and a viewpoint that I had not seen before. I think it’s important that others hear these facts and consider them carefully. Actually, I think it’s very important.

This book compares Islam to Christianity. It’s written from the perspective of a former Muslim who has decided to worship the God of the Bible instead of Allah. She is now following Jesus, instead of Muhammad. As a Muslim-background Christian convert, she has a unique perspective on both faiths.

Darwish was born in Cairo, Egypt. Her parents were devout Muslims. They moved to the Gaza Strip, where her father an influential leader in the jihad against Israel until he was assassinated by an Israeli bomb when she was eight years old. Returning to Cairo, she experienced wars and more wars. Finally, she immigrated to the United States. Shocked by the differences in culture, she started questioning the faith she was raised in. These questions eventually led her to embrace Jesus.

In this book, Darwish lays out what she sees as a long list of significant differences between Islam and Christianity. In fact, they’re so different that she sees them as complete opposites—and clearly, she views one one as good and the other as not.

Here are some examples:

  • We are all sinners, vs. they are all sinners.
  • Redemption from sin, vs. immunity from sin—and its corollary, confession of sin vs. concealment of sin.
  • Jesus came to save us, vs. we have to save Allah and Muhammad, and their reputations.
  • At war with the Devil, vs. at war with flesh and blood.
  • The truth will set you free, vs. lying is an obligation.
  • God loves everybody, vs. God only loves the right kind of Muslims, and hates everyone else.

As I mentioned, she’s not worried about political correctness.

In successive sections of the book, Darwish looks at the disparity between cultures based on the Bible versus cultures founded on Islam, then compares the Ten Commandments to Islam, and the fruit of the Spirit to Islam. She describes how Islam is founded on the mandate to fight and conquer, how it is enforced by fear and anger, and how it destroys those trapped inside. Finally, she gives a clear warning to the West—a warning that we would do well to prayerfully consider.

If this all seems a bit much, it helps to remember that Darwish grew up in a radical Muslim family, so that is what she remembers and compares to Christianity. However, her claims are well researched and documented, with an abundance of endnotes. As she repeatedly points out, the picture of Islam packaged and presented to the West is a far cry from what is preached in the mosque.

While I am not in a position to critique Darwish’s description of Islam, I can consider what she says about Christianity from the perspective of a fellow believer. While I don’t question the authenticity of her faith, I disagreed in some areas. Most significantly, she contrasts Islam’s call to die for Allah with Christ’s invitation to live for Him. but she leaves out the truth that we too are called to die for God. Only some will die physically as martyrs, but we are all called to die to ourselves and pick up our cross and follow Him.

If I had one major complaint about this book, it would be the dearth of compassion the author has for those ensnared by what she describes as a religion of terror. Where she worries that the mass migration of Muslims into the West will spread jihad into new territory, I rejoice that these desperate immigrants may finally hear the good news that there is a heavenly Father full of grace and mercy, and a Son who loves them enough to die for them.

You may not agree with Darwish’s views. You may disagree with what she writes. But if we only read things we agree with, how will we ever come to understand those with whom we disagree? It is important to sometimes challenge ourselves with opinions totally different from our own. Who knows? We may learn something. Even more humbling, they may be right!

 

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