An appeal to critical thought and broad values for young Muslims.
Ghobash, ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Russia, presents a series of open letters crafted for his young sons as they grow up Muslim in the modern world. The author has a unique background: his mother is Russian, and his father was Arab. Moreover, his father was assassinated when a supporter of the Palestinian cause mistook him for another man who was a political target. The author was a young boy at the time of his father’s death, and he has spent a lifetime reflecting on what senseless violence did to him and his family. He has written these letters to his own sons—born in 2000 and 2004—in order to provide them with written accounts of his own values and thoughts on Islam. Throughout, he asks them to consider varying points of view, do their own research, and make up their own minds. Ghobash seems most intent on convincing his sons to think for themselves rather than to allow clerics, scholars, and activists to influence their thinking. The author states unequivocally “Islam is a religion of peace,” and then spends an entire chapter discussing what that statement really means, given the reality of violence in the world. He urges his sons to “see the world through the prism of responsibility,” as he himself does, doing what is right and caring for the needs of others. “We need to take responsibility for the Islam of peace,” he concludes. Ghobash takes largely liberal views on many issues, such as the role of women in society. He seems interestingly reticent on proclaiming strong views about the leadership and direction of Islam or passing anything but the most general judgment upon extremists.
Laced with Western pluralism and liberalism, the author tries to push back the rigid moralism of Islam as he has often known it. Certainly heartfelt, the book is also reserved and largely unemotional.