In a world filled with religious war and sectarian strife, Yousef sounds Rodney King’s famous cry: Can’t we all get along?
Where demagogues preach hate and zealots spread the gospel of division, Yousef delivers a message of peace and interreligious harmony. In his new book, he does not deny the variations between the three great Western monotheisms—Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Nonetheless, he argues that their similarities should outweigh their differences and that believers of all stripes should come together to begin a new religious revival. The founder of the Islamic Center of Middle Georgia, Yousef writes from a Muslim perspective, but he continually reaches across spiritual divides and finds commonalities. He hopes that his book will spur a return to faith for Christians, Jews and Muslims alike, and he claims that only such a threefold about-face will save us from the numerous, growing evils of the modern world: drugs, divorce, abuse, violence, broken homes and chronic pain. His book draws more frequently on the Quran than on the Bible, but this reliance serves as a strength; it further educates the reader. Using its holiest texts, Yousef paints a portrait of Islam as peaceful, egalitarian and compassionate. Working against critics who smear the religion as violent or sectarian, he describes his faith as advocating social welfare, equality and nonviolence. Islam would benefit from more apologists who could—like Yousef—write to a Western audience. Occasionally, he’s so enthusiastic that one feels he has sacrificed clarity for energy. He could have spent more time developing a logical organizational scheme for his slim volume, and some of his points feel underdeveloped. Nonetheless, these structural deficiencies do not decrease the value of his message; we need more prophets like Yousef to tear down the walls between us.
A spirited cry for religious unity.