Coffee with the Prophet
A 21st Century Encounter with the Prophet of Islam
by Mark A. Gabriel
Casselberry, Fla.: Gabriel Publishing, 2008. 211 pp. $16.99, paper
Reviewed by Raymond Ibrahim
Middle East Quarterly
Gabriel, a Muslim who converted to Christianity and lives in Salmon Rushdie-like hiding, has written a short story, largely based on his own life as a young Muslim, that captures, in stages, the many internal struggles he encountered with his faith—the same struggles that manifest themselves in daily headlines under the rubric of radical Islam. A quick paced narrative, it recounts a onetime enthusiastic Muslim youth's discussions and experiences with a learned sheikh, and his subsequent disillusionment.
Chapter after chapter, the youth confronts any number of troubling issues—from infidels' default status as enemies and the command to execute apostates and subject women, to the arbitrary and totalitarian nature of Shari'a—providing readers with a glimpse of some of Islam's inherent problems. An appendix documenting the commands and assertions attributed to Muhammad in the book, which form the foundation of these issues, makes for a handy reference.
While the book is better suited for novices to the field of Islam and makes for light reading, here and there intriguing insights emerge. For instance, though Muhammad offered details on life's minutiae, when it came to avoiding hell, he provided only one sure road, "to die in jihad."
But if you died any other way, then all you could do was hope. This meant a life of inner turmoil and terror for every Muslim. No wonder Muslim radicals are the source of most of the world['s] terrorism. They are spreading the terror that is already rooted in their psyches by the teachings of Islam.
For all its story-like feel, however, Gabriel's own background—a former Muslim, Al-Azhar scholar, and hafiz
(memorizer of the Qur'an)—adds to the book's authority and sincerity.
Related Topics: Freethinking & Muslim apostasy | Raymond Ibrahim | Winter 2010 MEQ
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