Readers interested in learning about the Sufi spiritual philosophy hinted at in Rumi’s poetry might profit from this deeply...

MUHAMMAD'S ALLAH

A contemporary mystical Islamic philosopher offers clarification about common misconceptions of the Islamic concept of God.

Hulusi is an Islamic scholar whose writings mirror the mystical dimension of Islam known as Sufism, made well known in the U.S. through translations of the Sufi poet-theologian Rumi. But many who read the English translations of Rumi fail to realize the complexity of the system of spiritual thinking that Sufism represents. Hulusi explicates one of the most difficult concepts in mystical Islam—the notion that “Allah,” commonly misunderstood in the West and even in parts of the Muslim world as “God,” encompasses more than the word “God” can illuminate. Drawing upon his interpretations of the Quran, Islam’s most sacred scripture, Hulusi claims that nowhere in Muhammad’s transmission of the Quran is there the assertion that Allah is a god. Instead, Hulusi writes that Allah is “an infinite, unlimited, whole One, in which case...there is nothing in existence other than Him.” The consequences of this assertion are that individual lives are fated by Allah, predestined to heaven or hell after physical death. The point of religion, writes the author, is to gain nondualistic awareness of Allah, which is realized through essential self-knowledge and the rejection of illusionary dualities in daily life. The author relies on short paragraphs to frame his beliefs and uses abstract language to describe consciousness, but the gist of these abstruse ideas is helpfully noted in bold throughout the book. One can only imagine the difficulty translator Atalay faced in converting the author’s esoteric Turkish style into readable English. Yet it does read clearly as a kind of Sufi manifesto of faith.

Readers interested in learning about the Sufi spiritual philosophy hinted at in Rumi’s poetry might profit from this deeply considered study but only after reading the Quran in an accessible English translation.

Pub Date: May 2, 2012

ISBN: 978-0615634883

Page Count: 158

Publisher: Muhammad's Allah

Review Posted Online: July 17, 2012

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Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.

NO REMORSE

Walkley pits CIA agents against a maniacal Saudi prince intent on starting World War III in this debut thriller.

Delta Force operative Lee McCloud, aka Mac, finds himself in Mexico, trying to rescue two teenage girls kidnapped by a drug cartel. But things go from bad to worse when the villains don’t play by the rules. Framed for two murders he didn’t commit, Mac has two options: go to prison or go to work for a CIA black-op group run by the devious Wisebaum, who hacks into terrorists’ bank accounts and confiscates millions of dollars. However, there’s more going on than meets the eye; Saudi Prince Khalid is in possession of nuclear canisters, with which he hopes to alter world history. Khalid also dabbles in trafficking young women, and harvesting and selling human organs. When Wisebaum’s black-op team targets Khalid’s father, the action becomes even more intense. With so many interweaving subplots—kidnapped girls, Israeli undercover agents, nuclear weapons and a secret underwater hideout—it could be easy to lose track of what’s going on. But the author’s deft handling of the material ensures that doesn’t occur; subplots are introduced at the appropriate junctures and, by story’s end, all are accounted for and neatly concluded. Mac is portrayed as a rough and ready action-hero, yet his vulnerabilities will evoke empathy in readers. He finds a love interest in Tally, a hacker whose personality is just quirky enough to complement his own. All Walkley’s primary characters are fleshed out and realistic, with the exception of Wisebaum—a malicious, double-dealing, back-stabber of the worst ilk; the reader is left wondering about Wisebaum’s motivations behind such blatant treachery.

Despite this, Walkley’s beefy prose and rousing action sequences deliver a thriller to satisfy any adrenaline addict.

Pub Date: Jan. 7, 2012

ISBN: 978-0980806601

Page Count: 412

Publisher: Marq Books

Review Posted Online: March 29, 2012

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With so many minor questions left unanswered, Carlson’s captivating novel proves to be more about the journey than the...

OUT OF THE SHADOWS

Tragedy turns into triumph in Carlson’s debut novel about a young woman who regains her self-confidence after multiple losses and years of dejection.

Before readers meet 28-year-old Jamie Shire, she has already hit rock bottom. Jobless, she drinks away her days on her best friend’s couch as she wallows in loneliness. Among Jamie’s troubles: Her mother died when she was a child, the only man she ever loved wouldn’t reciprocate, her unborn daughter died, and she continuously feels rejected by her father and brother. After a chance encounter with a wealthy woman at a coffee shop, Jamie accepts a live-in job researching philanthropic causes at Fallow Springs Estate. Reaching out to the house staff and eventually working with Darfur refugees afford Jamie some valuable context for her own pain; she’s able to gain confidence as she learns to stop fearing rejection and start pursuing her dreams. Throughout the novel, the author skillfully creates mood. In the beginning, when Jamie borders on depression, her emotional touchiness and oversensitivity will create an uneasy feeling in readers. But as Jamie slowly regains confidence, readers will also feel increasingly optimistic. Alongside the main character’s emotional struggle is the struggle faced by Darfur refugees, although this plotline doesn’t advance too far; yet details from Jamie’s trip to the refugee camp in Chad—the types of beer served at the aid workers’ bar or a depiction of a young refugee sitting blank-faced and tied to a pole because he might run away—effectively transport readers to faraway places. Jamie’s story will interest readers, but, with a weak ending, the story leaves many unanswered questions. Who is Jamie’s wealthy employer? Does Jamie’s work in Chad help anyone but herself? And what of the conflict Jamie feels between herself and the refugees, between the haves and the have-nots?

With so many minor questions left unanswered, Carlson’s captivating novel proves to be more about the journey than the destination.

Pub Date: April 17, 2012

ISBN: 978-0984991808

Page Count: 389

Publisher: First Snow Publishing House

Review Posted Online: May 1, 2012

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