Occasionally glib, yet conversational, ultimately endearing account of a Sudanese-born Malaysian youth’s reckoning with his inherited Islamic faith through the act of blogging.
The identity behind the popular blog The Sudanese Thinker, Nasr re-creates his journey from a fairly religious, comfortable upbringing in Khartoum (born in 1986), Qatar and Kuala Lumpur, where he attended private schools and began to question his Islamic teachings and especially its political uses. Memorization and rote learning of the Quran were the methods of instruction, with an emphasis on hating Jews and infidels and waging jihad. When Nasr questioned the teachings, he was told that he was courting the devil. While his homeland of Sudan was undergoing a civil war, the author became aware of the huge contrasts there between the rich and poor, as well as between the conservative dictates of his Malaysian school and his relatively permissible home. In 2006, he happened upon the Egyptian bloggers The Big Pharaoh and Sandmonkey and began to join conversations by liberal young Muslims about the controversial topics of the day—e.g., the Iraq War, Wahhabi ideology, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, feminism and the oppression by Arab tyrants. Transcending national borders, blogging allowed the youth to find solidarity among Arabs, leading to many of the explosive currents that found expression in the Arab Spring of 2011. Becoming the first Sudanese blogger in English, Nasr challenged long-standing beliefs about a Jewish American conspiracy bent on destroying Islam and embarked on an “unintended exercise in intellectual and psychological self-empowerment.” Structured wittily around a love affair with Islam, in which doubt is personified as the seductress who urges him to read atheist authors, Nasr’s account is straightforward, fluent and full of lively allusions for further readings.
A candid, cosmopolitan look at the experience of Islam in the digital age.