|The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew-- Three Women Search for Understanding
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"Welcome to the Faith Club. We're three mothers from three faiths -- Islam, Christianity, and Judaism -- who got together to write a picture book for our children that would highlight the connections between our religions. But no sooner had we started talking about our beliefs and how to explain them to our children than our differences led to misunderstandings. Our project nearly fell apart."
After September 11th, Ranya Idliby, an American Muslim of Palestinian descent, faced constant questions about Islam, God, and death from her children, the only Muslims in their classrooms. Inspired by a story about Muhammad, Ranya reached out to two other mothers -- a Christian and a Jew -- to try to understand and answer these questions for her children. After just a few meetings, however, it became clear that the women themselves needed an honest and open environment where they could admit -- and discuss -- their concerns, stereotypes, and misunderstandings about one another. After hours of soul-searching about the issues that divided them, Ranya, Suzanne, and Priscilla grew close enough to discover and explore what united them.
The Faith Club is a memoir of spiritual reflections in three voices that will make readers feel as if they are eavesdropping on the authors' private conversations, provocative discussions, and often controversial opinions and conclusions. The authors wrestle with the issues of anti-Semitism, prejudice against Muslims, and preconceptions of Christians at a time when fundamentalists dominate the public face of Christianity. They write beautifully and affectingly of their families, their losses and grief, their fears and hopes for themselves and their loved ones. And as the authors reveal their deepest beliefs, readers watch the blossoming of a profound interfaith friendship and the birth of a new way of relating to others.
In a final chapter, they provide detailed advice on how to start a faith club: the questions to ask, the books to read, and most important, the open-minded attitude to maintain in order to come through the experience with an enriched personal faith and understanding of others.
Pioneering, timely, and deeply thoughtful, The Faith Club's caring message will resonate with people of all faiths.
For more information or to start your own faith club visit www.thefaithclub.com
- Book Review of The Faith Club
If you research the word, "interfaith", on the Internet you will discover that since Nine Eleven citizens from many nations have organized to promote interreligious understanding and peace. The Faith Club, published by Free Press, is one example of this groundswell of a peacemaking activity. Ranya Idlibyl, a Muslim, Suzanne Oliver, an Episcopalian Christian, and Priscilla Warner, a Jew, all mothers of young children, decided to write a children's book about Islam, Christianity, and Judaism. As the three mothers met to begin research on this project they discovered that each of them held mistaken stereotypes about the others' religions and cultures. These stereotypes were sometimes amusing, but often not. They hurt feelings and aroused anger. Nevertheless, the growing friendship between the women gave them courage to persevere toward a common goal. As they tried to explain their faith to the other "club" members, they found that they needed to learn more about their own religious beliefs and customs. This inquiry took them deeper and deeper, challenging them to be utterly honest. Eventually, they began to grasp that despite some important differences between their religious perspectives they held much more in common than not. And they grew to appreciate more and more not only the religious faith of their partners, but their own faith as well. Their spiritual confidence had been strengthened by this no-holds-barred interfaith questioning.
I found that the book began on a very simple level; and I was at first disappointed with my purchase, thinking that that I had picked shallow material. But, as the women got to know each other better, and were emboldened to ask more probing questions, the story of their faith journey became more and more insightful and provocative. Their faith club changed their lives, claim Ranya, Suzanne, and Priscilla. They are so enthusiastic about the process of interfaith inquiry that they included ample guidance in the appendix to readers who would like to organize their own faith clubs. The Faith Club, as the title would suggest, is not an intellectual's meat; but it is nevertheless an exellent introduction to several theological and political issues which have divided Christians, Jews, and Muslims for centuries. Thus, The Faith Club is a welcome encouragement in a world afflicted by religious fanaticism and strife....more info
- Highly recommended!
These women come together after 9/11, initially to write a book for children that would teach understanding and respect for their respective religions. Movingly, it is entirely in their voices, drawn from their weekly conversations, their journals and their reflections. They grow in sensitivity, caring and honesty with each other, and I felt as though I made their journey with them....more info
- The Faith Club
I thought The Faith Club was one of the most important book I ever read. I thought the author's journey through their particular faiths was so inspiring to me because I am continually questioning my faith. I also felt that it is so important to try to understand other beliefs....more info
- Outstanding Book
The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew-- Three Women Search for Understanding by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver and, Priscilla Warner is a book written by three woman of different religions one Catholic one Jewish and one Muslim. These three ladies wanted to start a Faith Club. They had many differences and many conflicts ensued. After they addressed their differences they sat down and wrote this remarkable book. You will get a good education on these three religions and a better appreciation for each one.
If you are still seeking God and spiritual guidance May I suggest you read my book as well. If you are searching for HOPE in a seemingly hopeless world, look no further.
- The Faith Club
This is a wonderful description of these 3 religions. It is great that someone finally put down the similarities between these 3 religions as it is far to often that all we hear in the news are the differences. Many parts of this book were so compelling that i had to put it down for an hour or two to think about what i had read and really understand all the aspects of it. Since reading it, i have spent time with people of faiths other than my own and did this with open eyes. ...more info
- great overview for us non-academics
I bought this for my daughter who is getting her Phd in Middle Eastern Archeology and is much more well-read and well-traveled than I am. I was introduced to the book by a review on a talk show. I really enjoyed the book and shared it with other women at work and in my community who also enjoyed it. We are mostly college educated but agree that we are all longing for more balanced insight into the similarities rather than the differences between the Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths to give us hope for peace in the future. Maybe it takes moms rather than politicians to lead the way! ...more info
- Three real women look at interfaith relations
Three real women met for four years to explore, learn, and hash out their religious beliefs in a story that twists and turns through an array of emotions and painful growth. This book that will show you that you don't know what you think you know about these three mainstream religions. Stereotypes, fundamentalism, and modern adaptation are all examined. As the women work together - often with unhappy or upsetting results - they grow and change. An excellent book that is instructive but nonetheless a page-turner....more info
If the world is going to get beyond our fears and our hate, change is going to happen in each person's heart. This book gives a personal roadmap for taking that journey. I really needed to know that others were on this journey too....more info
- Great read
Would be great for book clubs. I had a hard time putting it down....more info
- A matter of faith
Don't read this book for in-depth knowledge of Christianity, Judaism or Islam. And you won't find spiritual enlightment between its pages either. But what you will find is a primer, a beginner's guide to understanding that these 3 faiths are not very much different from each other after all. Regardless of our own misconceptions and stereotypes, these faiths are joined by a common thread - love for God, and for each other. Everything else is (mis)interpreted through the lens of culture, society and one's personal reading of the Tanakh, Quran or Bible.
Suzanne, Ranya and Priscilla share their journey with all the painful, uncomfortable and sensitive parts laid bare for frank and open discussion. I was particularly interested in how Ranya introduced moderate Islam to her Jewish and Christian friends, and slowly changed their long standing misperceptions. If you're keen to find out more of each religion, The Faith Club is a good start. With tips at the end for starting your own faith club....more info
- FAITH CLUB
Fascinating introduction to these three religions and their connections as told by current practioners. If you wonder how you got your faith and what it really means, this is a MUST READ!
- warm, welcoming and thought-provoking discussion
This was such a thought provoking book! A small group of moms laying it out there for each other, discussing their respective religions and all of the similarities and unseen prejudices (and political/historical issues) that go with it. I'm still too busy processing the book to be coherent about it, but suffice to say it is a must read for anyone interested in a depth-plumbing discussion of the relationship among the Abrahamic faiths and their impact on life (and parenting) in modern America. When I put this book down I wished I had a faith club, too. I look forward to reading some of their suggestions for further research....more info
- A masterpiece!
How wonderful! Coming from the heart and very gutsy. We men can never do that. I loved the focus on the basic values that unite us as opposed to the differences that has caused so much hardships and wars over the centuries. You go girls!...more info
- The Faith Club
My husband got me this book for Christmas. I finished the book a few days ago, but I wanted to absorb all that I read before I wrote a review. I went to a very small private, Catholic college that encourages interfaith discussions as well as academic study of the Bible. I was lucky enough in my college days to participate in several conversations like this book. The difference is that I did not feel my 'faith' was compromised by these discussions. I thought the the dialog in the book is what many people of all faiths are feeling, but no one is comfortable enough to express these opinions. I enjoyed the fact that these women set aside their cultural, religious & personal beliefs to learn about an unfamiliar concept. In college, along with the interfaith discussions, we also had comparitive religion classes, we looked at the Bible, the Torah & the Quran equally. They are considered religious as well as historical texts. Most of the ideas were already known to me, but it was great to see these issues in a non-academic setting. The fact that these women took their faith and religons so personally & were willing to share without judgement gives me hope that we can continue these interfaith dialogs in everyday life, not just in acadamia....more info
- A Religous Journey with The Faith Club
As a person facing my own questions about faith and spirituality, this book was a welcome guide in my search for religous clarification. All the woman are extremely insightful and knowledgeable. They deal with the often taboo subject of religion tastefully, while still delving into the most intimate questions. This book was a great tool in reaffirming my religous beliefs and in developing a new found tolerance of other religions. What a comfort to know that even these highly successful women face uncertainty in their religous beliefs. In reading this book Ranya, Priscilla, and Suzanne, become guides on an amazing religous journey.
- A pleasure to read!
I really enjoyed this book. It was a pleasure to read. It is nice to be able to have people discuss their religions and religious differences without controversy....more info
- A Healthy Dialogue
The Faith Club offers an honest dialogue among women of different religions. As each women struggles to understand the faith of the others, she also wrestles with her own beliefs. This book would be an excellent choice for a book club or for those who would wish to engage in a similar discussion. A study guide is provided. This is an excellent model for the direction in which our polarized world needs to move....more info
- Great Blessing
Delightful book, giving everyone the privilege of choice in how they are going to worship. A chance to accept the different methods of "spiritual oneness". Also, gives a gentle touch to understanding and respect for others. I have suggested this book to many. I truly believe that we are all born with a wonderful,strong spirit, how I worship is my choice of of expression....more info
- How to Water Down Your Faith in 3 Easy Steps
This was a fascinating read. I had considered it for my book club, but I wouldn't subject any friends to this propoganda. These women have their hearts in the right place - tolerance of others, but they are willing to water down or even negate their own beliefs and faith in order to get along with others. I kept waiting to read where one of the women would say to the others: "I respect your right to your beliefs, but I won't change or give up mine just to make you comfortable." The best part of this book is learning that all Muslims are not extremists! ...more info
- The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew -- Three Women Search for Understanding
This is an excellent book, full of painfully honest sharing of fears and misunderstandings from women of three different faith traditions. As each woman tries to educate the others regarding her own tradition, she comes to further clarity as well as to question what she truly believes. By the end of the book, spanning a two to three year time period, each woman comes to appreciate and respect the other two faith traditions while continuing to embrace her own as "right" for her. This book should stimulate great discussion! ...more info
- The Faith Club
Three women from very different backgrounds come together weekly to learn about each others faith. At first I was disappointed when I started reading, because some of the women didn't seem to be actively practicing their faith as I had expected, but as I continued to read I found that because their faiths were being tested that they grew in their faith and compassion for each other situation and beliefs. I personally learned many new ways that the three religions are much more connected and similar than I had previously believed. I also learned more about the Muslim faith in particular. It was a good introduction and made me want to read and learn even more about the Jewish and Muslim religions. ...more info
- Good Representation of a Typical American Experience
The Faith Club authors never claim to be theologians, philosophers or special authorities on interfaith religions. They are three New York City mothers who met and bravely shared their stereotypes about each other. If that is not asking hard questions, I don't know what is. The level of discomfort each woman was able to handle during these difficult and fascinating conversations is more than most people ever have the courage to face. In our sappy American culture that cares more about Britney Spears' personal life, this is a refreshing honest, bold and badly needed book.
It's an excellent example of what average Americans can do to bring us one step closer to world peace. ...more info
- Valuable role models
The most striking features of this book are the authors' thought processes made manifest, with actual transcribed dialogue broken up by first-person narration, and theology made practical, with stories and teachings presented not in their entirety but in their relevance. I have not yet learned much in specific doctrine of any of the three faiths from this discussion, but I have envied the authors their trust in each other and in their own power to *search for* reason and understanding. There is pluralism out there -- go, if I may borrow from rabbi Hillel, and learn it....more info
- Seriously better than TV
As Martin Luther King mentioned, religion is the most socially segregated dimension of our society. And after 9/11, three New York mothers of three different faiths worried that walls of silence between religious communities were a danger to their children's future. Hoping to promote some understanding by writing a book for children, these women introduced themselves and formed a committee. And near as I can tell, they never ended up writing the children's book. It's just that along the way they found something greater -- a live circle of friends where unstintingly open conversation became a process of self-discovery. As the Muslim woman of this trio, Ranya Idliby says,
"We were breaking an unspoken social rule. We were talking about God and religion at a time when the stakes were high ... Our relationship was turning into something sacred, something we called our "Faith Club". We signed no official pact, but we lived by a certain code: honesty was the first rule of the Faith Club, and with that tenet as a foundation, no topic was off limits."
I found this long running conversation surprisingly dramatic and seriously entertaining. I read it aloud with my wife, and it's better than TV. I came away suspecting that such networks of real friends are the most powerful force for security in the world. Not to mention what they can do for personal growth.
- Introspective, Personal and Challenging even Ones faith
it is an inter-faith dialogue between a Christian, Jewish and muslim/Arab/Palestinian woman, which bore it-self out of the rubbles of 9-11. mind you there are ivy league educated women, where their practices really form a prism across a different spectrum of amono-lithicness
issues of stereotyping of arabs and muslims are discussed at length as well as those against the jews
i was very drawn to the un-easiness of Priscilla (Jewish woman), as "one who lives as a minority" which Christina (Christian woman) fails to grasp and under-stand. Priscillas sense of how the West is so thoroughly "Christianized" in the sense of holidays, makes her un-easy.
one aspect of the work is how utterly "sensitive" Priscilla is towards anti-Semitism or the suggestion there-of which stems from any or a specific stereotype of Jews - whether they were responsible for the death of Isa ('a), or being wealthy and etc etc
when i was reading this work, honestly, i was reading it through the lenses of how a particular minority, whether Christian, Shi'i or even Ahmadi would read it from the vantage point of Priscilla: that particular stereotypes about a particular minority in a large sunni Community can lead to a sense of "exclusivity".
one of my sunni friends even termed it "in-security". i told him, like Priscilla did, that he would never under-stand where we are coming from, since he is part of a larger Community, where a justification of sorts never arises, and when minorities raise issues of concern, the majority gets irritated about their concerns, as if
to suggest, "get over it".
on a a personal level, it reaches at the core issues, both personal and religious, confronting three faiths.
it is as much a cause for celebration, i.e, one immersing them-selves in the other tradition, as it is, ones sense of questioning of the axioms of their own faith, personified by re-surfacing doubts.
what i found helpful - was a healthy narrative of, and the construction of an identity of the three sisters in faith. remember that this book and the exchange took over a course of 2 years, in the privacy of their own homes, and also the privacy of thoughts that are seldom brought about in the "public domain".
i mean, who would want to admit, that they are doubtful of their faith, or that they define religion on their own terms, or better else, that there is an element of hope missing within ones faith. it is as much as a struggle for each other, as much as questioning each other over the historical grievances each faith holds or continues to hold against the other.
the style of the book, if you get the chance to read through it, is very well thought out. key issues that effect two faiths are set within a context, while the third faith, sets to bring about a context of questioning, and an admission - some times - of a lack of under-standing. then there are moments of reflection by each speaker.
life, mortality, trinity, the sense of disposession of the Palestinians, the tribalism within the Jews, not to forget, what it holds for their children. i find that this work is a personal testament to the future generations. the sisters were not afraid to confront their fears.
many will dis-agree with the work - as will muslims with Ranyas under-standing of her faith, i.e Islam. at least reading through her narrative, muslim gender relations have a long way to go.
the end of the book has a set of questions for a 'Faith Club'. they
are personal in nature, which require a sense of tadabbur, i.e reflection...more info
- Moving and Engaging Story
I am about half-way through this book, but feel compelled to do an early review to indicate how moved I am by the depth of feeling and forthrightness expressed by these three women. With every page I turn, I keep thinking that if more individuals engaged in these kinds of discussions, the world might be a little better place with less disharmony and strife. In its most elemental form, the state of the world really does boil down to individual, personalized interactions where people are able to talk to each other one-to-one. ...more info
- Inspiring book
I wasn't sure what to expect when I ordered this book--- had read mixed reviews. Was pleasantly surprised to find a book detailing REAL women with REAL issues that most of us face today. This book gives humanity hope for compassion and understanding between people and their diverse faiths and beliefs. It is definitely a guidepost for the challenging but necessary path leading to understanding, acceptance,and, ultimately, peace between all people....more info