In the book “Children of the Dust,” Ali Eteraz gives a detailed analysis of his childhood experiences in the United States and Pakistan. The author wrestled with numerous experiences and ideologies that eventually transformed his understanding of Islam. This book review begins by examining Eteraz’s journey from childhood to adulthood. The paper explores how his lessons can be adapted to promote a better social experience in the United States.
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Summary of the Book
The text begins by describing the lessons gained by the narrator while in Pakistan. The family observed that poverty was a major challenge affecting many people in the region. Students were required to memorize various religious texts and read the Koran. He also completed a short madrassa education. At the age of ten, the author’s family moved to the United States, where his behaviors would be regulated using scriptural texts and Islamic teachings (Eteraz 63).
His sexual angst and shyness forced him to change his name to Amir. Back in Pakistan, Eteraz was threatened by Taliban criminals since he was perceived as an American citizen. After joining a Christian school in the United States, the author acknowledged that his ego had failed him. The covenant made when he was born continued to dictate his actions and goals. He eventually traveled to Kuwait with the aim of pursuing his reformation agenda. Together with Ziad, the author worked hard to reinvent the religion by endorsing attributes such as justice, harmony, and equality.
Eteraz’s Journey and Spiritual Maturation
The journey is a common motif in this book, and it is aimed at recounting the author’s self-understanding and spiritual maturation. The text gives a detailed analysis of Eteraz’s journey from childhood to adulthood. His life starts in Pakistan, where he analyzes numerous religious texts, reads the Koran, and completes madrassa. These acts support his religious knowledge and foundation. After relocating to the United States, the author finds himself fighting the fundamentalism perpetuated by his parents and shyness (Eteraz 47). He later joins the college in Manhattan and rediscovers his passion for Islam.
These experiences make it easier for him to develop his religious faith. He eventually realizes that Islam is a religion of peace. He even disowns Osama bin Laden for attacking the United States on September 11. He believes that Islam has been captured by “idiots” who have tarnished its image across the globe (Eteraz 121). This fact explains why his main agenda is to save religion.
Experience of Islamic Ethos
Eteraz’s experiences in Pakistan make it easier for him to understand the values and attributes associated with Islam. The reader is informed about the unique aspects of Islamic ethos expressed in contemporary Pakistan culture. For instance, Muslims are encouraged to promote peace and Allah’s teachings. Worshippers should also take care of the needy and support one another. In the United States, Islam appears to be treated differently by many people (Coffman and Mathieson, 53). Consequently, the author is forced to change his name twice. The problem of islamophobia is also described in the text.
Back in Pakistan, the family observes how a radical form of Islam continues to disorient the religion’s core values. In this nation, Islamic stories are combined with insights from the Koran and ensure more people support one another. Parents appear to encourage their children to become servants of religion. Unfortunately, the family receives unfair treatment after his attempt to move back to the country (Eteraz 82).
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The narrator’s experience in the United States is also quite alarming. For instance, many Americans believe that Muslims perpetrate crime and promote malpractices that affect human welfare. Consequently, they believe that Christianity is the only religion that can promote peace in society. However, the author’s experiences in these two regions make it easier for him to find the truth. He observes that Islamic teachings support specific ethical approaches that can make the world a better place for all (Eteraz 103).
Lessons from Eteraz’s Experiences
Several lessons can be borrowed from Eteraz’s experiences in an attempt to understand this misconstrued religion. The first lesson is that Islam is governed by values such as fairness, equality, and justice. Although many people in America view religion differently, the author clearly shows that it is possible for Christians and Muslims to live in harmony (Elnoury and Maurer 39). Another lesson is that his observations in these countries reveal how some Muslims hate Americans. These lessons can contribute to a better social experience in our culture. This can be achieved by promoting justice and tolerance.
The narrator observed that many citizens in the United States viewed the religion negatively (Elnoury and Maurer 39). He noted that many Americans were against it due to issues such as terrorism. The spiritual journey, experiences, and findings in the country made it possible for him to understand the nature and true meaning of the religion. This knowledge encouraged him to educate more people about the positive values propagated by Islam. With this knowledge, members of society can examine Eteraz’s journey in order to understand the positions of different religions in a global society.
Similarly, the approach can ensure better relationships are established between members of different religions. When people appreciate and acknowledge that Islam is a religion of peace and unity, it can be possible to deal with extremism and empower more believers to appreciate Allah’s teachings (Smith 62). The approach will result in social cohesion and discourage radical Islamic groups from changing their ideologies.
Striking Aspects of the Book
The most outstanding issue described in this book is how the author was threatened by Taliban thugs in Pakistan for being an American. This part exposes the nature of the relationship established between Islam and the rest of the world. In order to tackle the issue, the author acknowledges that the best thing is to embark on a new journey to redefine the nature of Islam using his reformation agenda (Starnes 46).
With this kind of understanding, every person in the world can study the teachings and ethos of Islam in an attempt to promote better social relationships and religious tolerance. This is something possible since Islam is a religion of peace, justice, empowerment, harmony, and equality (Ahmad 927). When more individuals are informed about these attributes, they will abandon their malpractices, condemn terrorism, and embrace the best practices to promote cohesion (Eteraz 93). Members of the society will also be able to develop positive interpersonal relationships with their neighbors from different religious groups.
Eteraz’s experiences in the United States, Kuwait, and Pakistan makes it possible for him to achieve spiritual maturation. Despite the challenges faced in these regions, the author eventually realizes that religious extremism is not supported by Islamic teachings. The lessons gained from the book can be embraced by individuals who want to understand the true nature of Islam and eventually establish better societies characterized by peace, unity, and religious tolerance.
Ahmad, Nadia B. “The Islamic Influence in (Pre-)Colonial and Early America: A Historico-Legal Snapshot.” Seattle Journal for Social Justice, vol. 12, no. 3, 2014, pp. 913-945.
Coffman, Michael S., and Kate Mathieson. Radical Islam in the House: The Plan to Take America for the Global Islamic States. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2013.
Elnoury, Tamer, and Kevin Maurer. American Radical: Inside the World of an Undercover Muslim FBI Agent. Penguin Publishing Group, 2017.
Eteraz, Ali. Children of Dust: A Portrait of a Muslim as a Young Man. 2nd ed., HarperCollins, 2011.
Smith, Huston. The World’s Religions: Completely Revised and Updated Edition of The Religions of Man. 50th Anniversary ed., HarperCollins, 2009.
Starnes, Todd. The Deplorables’ Guide to Making America Great Again. Frontline, 2017.