When I went to college, I had friends from all different faiths, but we never discussed them. Looking back, I feel I really missed an opportunity to learn a lot, but isn't that typical of reflection on one's youth?
It wasn't until September 11, 2001 that I really became curious about other religions besides Christianity. As news of the terrorist attacks hit the airwaves, and that the men responsible for these tragedies were Muslims, I knew that anger, anguish, fear and intolerance would cloud the judgments of many. I had a feeling that there would be some who would blame all practicing the religion, rather than just those who planned and executed the attacks. And, unfortunately, I was right.
While my wife and I are both Christians, we are of different races, as were her parents before us. And, as such, even in these modern times of greater racial tolerance, we've always been particularly sensitive to prejudice of any form. When the 9/11 attacks rocked the world at its foundation, I realized that though I didn't have any ill-feelings about those who chose other religions, I never made any attempt to understand them either.
That's why I really enjoyed the book, The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew—Three Women Search for Understanding. When my wife brought the book home, I read the cover and knew I'd have to read it, too. And I'm happy I did. Not only was it a great read, but I learned a lot from the authors, Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver and Priscilla Warner.
The book opens with Idliby, a lifelong Muslim, soul-searching after the 9/11 attacks. She wanted to search for the common ground between the three religions for the benefit of herself and her children, and after some research decides it would be great to write a children's book with mothers of the Jewish and Christian faiths. When she teams up with Oliver and Warner, it quickly becomes apparent that moving forward won't be as easy as they'd all hoped.
The rest of the book is about their journey to understanding through self-exploration and admitting and conquering their own anger, fears and prejudices. It's an amazing book of self-discovery, religion and the beauty of a passion for true, deep understanding. Excellent book.