Review: Face to Face with Jesus: A Former Muslim’s Extraordinary Journey to Heaven and Encounter with the God of Love

cvr_face-to-face-with-jesus-a-former-muslims-extraordinary-journey-to-heaven-and-encounter-with-the-god-of-love-by-samaa-habib

Face to Face with Jesus: A Former Muslim’s Extraordinary Journey to Heaven and Encounter with the God of Love by Samaa Habib, Bodie Thoene

MY RATING: 3/5 Stars

FTC NOTICE: Free Review Copy from the GoodReads Giveaways Program (in exchange for an honest review)

REVIEW: ”For many believers, particularly in the West, persecution is a foreign concept and experience–limited to unpleasant exchanges in the office or over social media. However, for many other believers, from Indonesia to Africa, in North Korea and throughout the Middle East, persecution is common. They suffer in many different ways, from social and economic exclusion to torture, rape, imprisonment and martyrdom for their belief in Jesus”(13).–Mike Bickle, Director, International House of Prayer

Face to Face with Jesus: A Former Muslim’s Extraordinary Journey to Heaven and Encounter with the God of Love,” existed as the story of a young, Egyptian female and her conversion from Islam to Christianity. The author, Samaa Habib, received an invitation, from one of her friends, to attend a Christian Orthodox Church service. She was fortunate to have parents who, despite being Muslim and deeply religious, were also open-minded about learning, seeing how others practiced their faith(s), etc. While there, she learned that the God of Christianity valued and loved females equally as much as males. This surprised her; because in Islam, females were worth half or less than that of their male counterparts.

Face to Face with Jesus” covered the wide-spread progression from Samaa’s Egyptian family living under a communist government, to displeasure of it and people’s desire to convert to generalized Sharia Law, and ultimately to being ruled by the cleric-mandated Sharia law. As things changed, her worth to her family also became devalued. Nonie Darwish, also a native of Egypt and whose father worked in the field of military intelligence under Gamal Abdel Nasser, noticed these extreme changes as well and shared them in her book, titled “Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror.”

In Samaa Habib’s case, it was the first time that she witnessed how religion became a divisive weapon: to “tear personal lives apart and divide and destroy nations” (51). She also saw “cruelty for the sake of cruelty ” (52). “In Muslim countries, women without male chaperones are targets of assault” (109), and she witnessed some of the terrible acts. One could easily understand how this girl’s new-found faith (in Christianity) made her feel protected and helped her to fight back against some fellow Egyptians who became her attackers.

At first, I thought that the “International House of Prayer” was unfairly targeting Egypt’s female population, using “free self-defense classes” as a way to gain recruits and converts from Islam to Christianity; however, the reality was that they did provide an undeniably valuable and life-saving service and skillset to the populace, which also saved the lives of this girl and her friends on multiple occasions. Not everyone would convert to Christianity, but they would convert from intended victims of sexual assault and other crimes to their own personal heroes.

SPOILER ALERT
As the chapters progressed, especially in the “Epilogue,” the soft-sell for Christianity became a hard-pushing one, and I found myself skimming the last parts. The hard-sell became distracting from the author’s amazing life story and the good deeds of her church. It seemed that the sole purpose of the book was to be a religious conversion piece, which varied greatly from what its synopsis conveyed to me; as such, this well-written book and amazing story lost some of its integrity, causing a reduced star rating.

Review: Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror

cvr_now-they-call-me-infidel-why-i-renounced-jihad-for-america-israel-and-the-war-on-terrorNow They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror, by Nonie Darwish

MY RATING: 4/5 Stars

FTC NOTICE: Library Book

REVIEW: The beginning of this review yields to a much favorable position as it progresses. “Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror” ends much better than it starts, and it is the first book for which I considered punctuation, paragraph transitions, and chapter allocations to be a signification part of a review. It is not enjoyable to have to do a drill-down on how a book is edited, but it is the poor editing of this book that originally lowered my rating of the text. Had it not been for the subject matter combined with both the intent and voice of the author, this book would have received a one-star rating and placed on my “discards” shelf. It is with the aforementioned in mind that I wish to touch on the most blatant things that have been considered in my review.

Mis-use (or lack thereof in some cases) of punctuation made this book a challenging read…so difficult, in fact, that I opted to see which company published it. The publisher was Penguin Books, and one would expect a higher caliber editing job from such a well-established entity. Several sentences had to be re-read, and I imagined punctuation in other parts of them in order to understand what the author wished to convey. It was amazing how significantly a comma changed the meaning of a sentence! Flow of ideas from one paragraph to another consistently lacked cohesion, making it choppy and challenging to follow a storyline. Ideas that clearly belonged in separate chapters created pause for the reader because I didn’t always understand their placement within the context of a specific part of Nonie Darwish’s story.

It was Ms. Darwish’s voice and intent that pushed me to read further. The disjointed details of early parts of the book finally came together enough to understand her over-arching theme: radical Islam is born overseas and is becoming homegrown in the USA; these people are very determined and will do anything to destroy anyone/anything that they consider to be of infidel nature. The author’s history, as well as that of her native Egypt, were detailed so that the reader could understand and appreciate Darwish’s political, humanitarian, and moral positions. She emphasized how thankful she was to have become an American and that her sentiment was an atypical one. People she once knew as moderate Muslims had become radicals once they arrived in America. The author explained that it was not unusual to find professional students (ie: a student of 12 years without a degree) that had become leaders of Muslim Student Associations and were backed by Saudi oil money to stay on college campuses; and, they were (are) using the universities as conversion centers for jihadism.

The author expressed a deep amount of respect for people of other nationalities, cultures, and faiths and made it clear that radical Islam demonstrates no tolerance nor respect for anything outside of itself and very little variation within its religion. The reading of “Now They Call Me Infidel” definitely required persistence. What pushed the rating of this book up to a 4-star one was the fact that the author made me want to learn more about the topics she addressed. If you put down this book because you found it unreadable, I ask that you consider making another attempt at reading it; once you are well into the text, everything eventually makes sense. It offers a solid education that cannot be ignored.