Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Mary's Well Occasional Paper: Alex Miller reviews Khalad Hussain's Against the Grain

For our first Mary's Well Occasional Paper of 2015 we have a review by Duane Alexander Miller of Khalad Hussain's conversion narrative Against the Grain (Xlibris 2012, 218 pages).

We wish to extend thanks to Dr. Edwin Zehner of Walailak University for serving as the guest editor of this essay.

Here are the opening paragraphs:
In the past ten years there has been a significant increase in the number of conversion narratives from Islam to Christianity (and vice versa).[1] In this volume, Kashmiri convert Khalad Hussain makes his own contribution to this growing body of literature. My own doctoral work[2] through the University of Edinburgh lead me to delve deeply into the literature of converts from Islam to Christianity. This included an analytical article on Saiid Rabiipour’s Farewell to Islam (2009), published as ‘”It is okay to question Allah”: the theology of freedomof Saiid Rabiipour, a Christian ex-Muslims.’[3] As with most articles I publish I shared this on my professional blog,[4] and it was by this means that Mr. Hussain contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in reviewing his own autobiography. 
The book begins with a depiction of the bucolic life led by his family in his hometown in the Mirpur region of Pakistani Kashmir. We are told about everything from schooling to agriculture to gender relations. Many native terms and words are shared with the readers in this section (and throughout the whole book). The author takes pain to translate customs and practices for the Western portion of his audience. The author also presents us with a number of questions about Islam that occurred to him (in retrospect, at least). For example, how could it be ethical that the Sikhs and Hindus were forced out of Pakistan at the time of independence? (p. 20) Why were women inferior to men? (p.  32) 
Click HERE to download the review essay. 
Key Words: religious conversion, Kashmir, Pakistan, autobiography, ex-Muslim, Pakistani diaspora

[1] For instance David Nasser’s Jumping through Fires (Baker, 2009), The Imam’s Daughter by Hannah Shah (Zondervan, 2012), I was a Minister in the Nation of Islam by Alexis Johnson (Winepress, 2009), Son of Hamas by Mosab Yousef (Tyndale, 2011) and Farewell to Islam by Saiid Rabiipour (Xulon, 2009).
[3] In Mary’s Well Occasional Papers 1(4), 1-13. (Accessed 16 July 2014).
[4] Other book reviews by this author can be found there and at his page.

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