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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 ""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


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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 ""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

30 review for The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew--Three Women Search for Understanding

  1. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    I'm struggling with the stars for this one....3 or 4, 4 or 3? I'm going with 4 because I simply could not put the book down and read it in one sitting last night. If that's not the sign of a good book, I don't know what is. In the wake of 9/11, three women of three different faiths come together to discuss their religions, peel away the differences, and celebrate the commonalities. I think what made this book so readable and enjoyable for me is that all three women represent the liberal, I'm struggling with the stars for this one....3 or 4, 4 or 3? I'm going with 4 because I simply could not put the book down and read it in one sitting last night. If that's not the sign of a good book, I don't know what is. In the wake of 9/11, three women of three different faiths come together to discuss their religions, peel away the differences, and celebrate the commonalities. I think what made this book so readable and enjoyable for me is that all three women represent the liberal, non-fundamentalist branches of their religions and thus, the discussion seems to cut to the heart of the matter and is not muddied by extremes. What was interesting to me was that while the Christian, an Episcopalian, seemed the most well-versed in her beliefs and was the most connected to her place of worship of the three, in the end, it was she who had some doubts after her tenure in the faith club. The Jewish woman, who in the beginning appeared more connected to her ethnicity and her deep-rooted feelings of victimhood than her religion, marveled that the musings of her friends helped her become a "born again" Jew and find her faith. The real education for me came from the Muslim woman. Although it took her a while to find her voice as the other two dissected their Judeo/Christian conflict, she ended up being a fount of information. Here in the US, we are bombarded with negative images of Islam and our country's official stance always sides with Israel with little regard for Palestinians. She was a voice of calm and reason, explaining the true tenants of her faith and separating out the political manifestations and prejudices. A truly wonderful book, even for the secular. Let me rephrase that - Especially for the secular - as I imagine many religious people are disappointed or angry because the representative for their religion doesn't represent their particular beliefs or feelings. Which of course is why this book is so important.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Gwenda

    As I read through this book, I was quite frequently upset with these three women and the way they approached their religions. None of them were particularly converted to their faith in the first place; the Jewish woman really only knew the social aspects of being a Jew and not the religious ones; the Muslim woman did not accept many aspects of her religion; the Christian woman seemed most converted (she had changed from being a Catholic to being an Episcopalian because she felt the Catholic As I read through this book, I was quite frequently upset with these three women and the way they approached their religions. None of them were particularly converted to their faith in the first place; the Jewish woman really only knew the social aspects of being a Jew and not the religious ones; the Muslim woman did not accept many aspects of her religion; the Christian woman seemed most converted (she had changed from being a Catholic to being an Episcopalian because she felt the Catholic church too restrictive). In the end, they finally decided to appreciate each other and live at peace with their fellowman, but I don't think they truly dealt with their religious beliefs and differences. This book should be called "The Friendship Club" because three women became friends. Sorry, but I can't admire them for their convictions. (It did make me appreciate mine more, however, so it was a worthwhile read.)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Kristie

    Mom, thanks for sending me the book. :) When I taught high school English, I tried to have class discussions about the books we read. The boys would have a hot debate by arguing and sometimes even yelling to make their points. They wanted to "win." The girls, on the other hand, were eager to agree. They would rarely challenge another girl on a point and they would try as hard as they could to find "common ground." I think a similar problem occurs in this book. The three women are so eager to Mom, thanks for sending me the book. :) When I taught high school English, I tried to have class discussions about the books we read. The boys would have a hot debate by arguing and sometimes even yelling to make their points. They wanted to "win." The girls, on the other hand, were eager to agree. They would rarely challenge another girl on a point and they would try as hard as they could to find "common ground." I think a similar problem occurs in this book. The three women are so eager to agree and find harmony with one another that they rarely tackle sensitive issues or push each other on points. (The only place where they do so is in their discussion of Palestine.) I kept turning the pages, waiting for a heated debate about core issues that never surfaced. There seemed to be too much picking and choosing within their beliefs. In the end, I think this book would have been much better if it had been between an imam, a rabbi and a pastor. I would have liked to read the discussion between people who were more knowledgeable about their religions and firmly rooted in their beliefs.

  4. 5 out of 5

    LeAnne: GeezerMom

    Peace on earth, y'all. After 9/11, numerous buildings surrounding Ground Zero had to be closed until they could be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected from dust and debris. Because of these closures, a mom could no longer take her kids to their Episcopalian church school. A local synagogue, however, opened their doors so that the Episcopalians could have services and school there. Where I live in Louisiana, our various churches and synagogues often offer space to one another and sometimes hold Peace on earth, y'all. After 9/11, numerous buildings surrounding Ground Zero had to be closed until they could be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected from dust and debris. Because of these closures, a mom could no longer take her kids to their Episcopalian church school. A local synagogue, however, opened their doors so that the Episcopalians could have services and school there. Where I live in Louisiana, our various churches and synagogues often offer space to one another and sometimes hold joint services - this opening portion of the story was not surprising. But this was a new experience for the mom, and she was touched. She also noticed that there was growing ugliness towards people of the Muslim faith in the wake of the attacks, and wondered how little children like her own would be impacted by things they heard on the news or saw on the streets. Since she was spending time at the synagogue, she began seeking out someone who would be willing to write a multi-faith children's book with her. Ideally, she thought, if a Muslim, a Jew, and a Christian could write a book for their little children - highlighting and teaching similarities - it would be a wonderful project to promote healing. She found two moms - Jewish and Muslim - who were interested and capable, and they began meeting regularly to get to know one another, to gain an understanding of each other's religion, and to formulate plans for the. children's book. These women were not especially orthodox in their faiths, but were believers. As the women met over a period of months, they discovered and admitted to their own prejudices but ultimately came to see that adults - not kids - were who needed to know how much in common these faiths hold. In sum, if you're interested in Judaism 101 or Intro to Islam or Basic Christianity, check this book out! Its an even keeled, honest explanation of these ladies' journey. None of the women authors are uber devout, - much like most Americans, they are just your average believers. If you're looking to feel touched by God, then, read something else.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Graham

    This book was a gift to me from my mother. She has read it. My sister has read it. And now me. Religion is an interesting and tricky thing in New York City, especially when you're from the South where everyone goes to church and pretty much considers themselves Christian (Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, etc...). I consider myself very open-minded when it comes to religion and people's spiritual preferences, but The Faith Club certainly made me unearth some of the subconscious This book was a gift to me from my mother. She has read it. My sister has read it. And now me. Religion is an interesting and tricky thing in New York City, especially when you're from the South where everyone goes to church and pretty much considers themselves Christian (Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, etc...). I consider myself very open-minded when it comes to religion and people's spiritual preferences, but The Faith Club certainly made me unearth some of the subconscious stereotypes I have about other religions and faiths. Whether you live in a melting pot like the Big Apple or in a small, middle-America town, this book really lays out the unique differences and compelling similarities of the Muslim, Jewish and Christian faiths. This book has really unearthed a desire within me to learn more about my peers here in the city, to understand more about their places of worship and the history behind their beliefs (i.e. synagogues and mosques). Most importantly, this book has forced me to dig a little bit deeper into what I believe and to understand why I believe all the things that, quite frankly, have been second nature to me these past 28 years. I encourage all, regardless of religious preferences, to read this book. Definitely worth your time!

  6. 5 out of 5

    YoSafBridg

    "A Muslim, a Christian, and a Jew walk into a room..." Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Pricilla Warner were virtual strangers brought together by their mutual desire to write a picture book for their children which would highlight the connections between the three Abrahamic faiths. Their talks soon led to more misunderstandings than connections so they decided to further investigate their own stereotypes and preconceptions. They continued their meetings recording each one and keeping "A Muslim, a Christian, and a Jew walk into a room..." Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Pricilla Warner were virtual strangers brought together by their mutual desire to write a picture book for their children which would highlight the connections between the three Abrahamic faiths. Their talks soon led to more misunderstandings than connections so they decided to further investigate their own stereotypes and preconceptions. They continued their meetings recording each one and keeping individual journal entries, this book is the result of those meetings; told through their alternating three voices. Ranya is the Muslim who originally came to Faith Club feeling like she had her faith but possibly no religion, like other Muslims might look at her as if she were not a "real Muslim" because she did not cover her head or follow the ritual in the proscribed manor. The other two saw Suzanne, as the Christian representative, as the "lucky one" possessing both religion and faith (rather rigidly as Pricilla saw it, initially) and living in the majority of the American population. Pricilla had the most doubts and came to Faith Club with religion but no faith. Through their faith club meetings they not only came to a new understanding of each other's faiths but began an inner soul searching and began questioning their own beliefs. The three felt like they had come away from it each with two new intimate soul friends and a deeper understanding of their god and the Abrahamic brotherhood. What did i come away from it with? Some very interesting thoughts, an ever-lengthening reading list, and a still agnostic soul. I would still recommend this book and would love to see a few thousand faith/understanding clubs sprouting up everywhere...you never know, it might lead to a more peaceful world...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Chadijah Mastura

    As a Muslim living in the Western world, I could totally relate to Ranya Idliby, the Palestinian Muslim woman representing the Muslim voice in this book. And, amazingly, she could utter a calm, reasonable, and relaxing voice, even though as a displaced Palestinian she had experienced the biggest impact of the harsh religious-political conflicts. And as she made the spiritual journey through this interfaith dialogue, I felt also enlightened by the outlook of her Christian and Judaism friends. As As a Muslim living in the Western world, I could totally relate to Ranya Idliby, the Palestinian Muslim woman representing the Muslim voice in this book. And, amazingly, she could utter a calm, reasonable, and relaxing voice, even though as a displaced Palestinian she had experienced the biggest impact of the harsh religious-political conflicts. And as she made the spiritual journey through this interfaith dialogue, I felt also enlightened by the outlook of her Christian and Judaism friends. As a Muslim, I've learned some aspects of Christianity and Judaism, but I realized that I've always been skeptical of their prejudicism towards Islam, and as a result I also view Christianity and Judaism with some stain of prejudicism. Reading this book makes me even realize more the importance to stop all prejudice and stereotyping to build a better world. What a wonderful book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bonniemk

    I loved this type of religious/spiritual dialogue. I do not agree with the position that it was a diluting or watering down of respective religions. We all come from the Abrahamic line so why not explore the relationships and bridge the misunderstandings? Yes our beliefs may differ, especially with regards to Christ's divinity, but an understanding of another's belief and culture is enriching and need not be devisive to our own faith. There is so much to learn and understand in eachother. It is I loved this type of religious/spiritual dialogue. I do not agree with the position that it was a diluting or watering down of respective religions. We all come from the Abrahamic line so why not explore the relationships and bridge the misunderstandings? Yes our beliefs may differ, especially with regards to Christ's divinity, but an understanding of another's belief and culture is enriching and need not be devisive to our own faith. There is so much to learn and understand in eachother. It is healthy and so powerful. Certainly with so much going on in the middle east, we need to educate ourselves so that gross stereotypes of the Muslim world are not perpetuated. As a Mormon Christian, I feel that God reveals His truths all over the world in different times, places and cultures! God is not a respector of persons. I loved it and would love the opportunity to have my own faith club! Bonnie Wilcox

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Beyeler

    Not a crushing heavy read captivating so far. Finished this journey. I firmly believe that we all need to be having interfaith conversations with others to irradicate prejudice and learn to live in harmony. I was itching to call a faith club meeting by the end of the book and drive up and chat with these ladies, but the whole idea was that you have to own a discussion like that and grow with it. I love that all three were challenged to learn more about their own faiths in order to explain and Not a crushing heavy read captivating so far. Finished this journey. I firmly believe that we all need to be having interfaith conversations with others to irradicate prejudice and learn to live in harmony. I was itching to call a faith club meeting by the end of the book and drive up and chat with these ladies, but the whole idea was that you have to own a discussion like that and grow with it. I love that all three were challenged to learn more about their own faiths in order to explain and share and find common ground. I know that it is a hard to lovingly and matter factly and without judgement, share Christ's word that noone comes to the Father except through the Son. It would be easy to take offense as the Jewish and Islamic ladies did to the concept that Salvation is only gained through Christ. I think that the CRITICAL thing for Christians to say to others of the Jewish and Islamic faiths when they speak of salvation, is that Christ ALSO says to his followers, I have many sheep in other pastures. We don't know lots, we don't know what or how the salvation of others may be worked out, ours is to have faith and share the Good news that through Christ we are forgiven. The rest is up to God! So I was a little upset with the ending. I expected the conversation to grow and mature more than it did.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Rockel

    I have put off writing about this book, not because it wasnt interesting to read, but I just dont know what to say about it. Its bascially set up as a conversation between three women of different faiths (Islam, Christianity and Judaism, respectively to their position as authors), as they break down prejudices and develop friendships in spite of their differences. It was definitely informative, especially on issues surrounding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict (about which Ive realized I know I have put off writing about this book, not because it wasn’t interesting to read, but I just don’t know what to say about it. It’s bascially set up as a conversation between three women of different faiths (Islam, Christianity and Judaism, respectively to their position as authors), as they break down prejudices and develop friendships in spite of their differences. It was definitely informative, especially on issues surrounding the Israeli/Palestinian conflict (about which I’ve realized I know very little) and the cultural significance of religion and faith in difference communities. However, as I was kinda fearing from the beginning, the book seems to end in a big message that ‘all paths lead to God’ (with at least two of the women stating that they hold or are leaning towards a universalist position). So while it was a worthwhile read for educational purposes, it was difficult to read as a Christian woman, especially since the Christian representative in the group was not at all close to my belief system (she was one of the universalists).

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ghost of the Library

    Review updated and, i hope, sightly more polished :) Are you a curious inquisitive person who believes that, in order to form an opinion on a different way of seeing the world, one must first read and ask questions about it? Then by all means take a peak, this is for you. How do we go about reviewing a book on such a sensitive topic as religion...especially in this day and age? Faith - or the absence of it - is a deeply personal and sensitive issue - and in order for respect to exist, alongside a Review updated and, i hope, sightly more polished :) Are you a curious inquisitive person who believes that, in order to form an opinion on a different way of seeing the world, one must first read and ask questions about it? Then by all means take a peak, this is for you. How do we go about reviewing a book on such a sensitive topic as religion...especially in this day and age? Faith - or the absence of it - is a deeply personal and sensitive issue - and in order for respect to exist, alongside a peaceful life, each person must truly follow what the "sacred books" say, and learn that differences of opinion will always exist and they should be respected. Having grown up the child of a catholic and an atheist (yes both can live a happy long life side by side) ,its safe enough to say that the chances of me "sticking" with one of either belief systems were slim! And truth is, i was from very early on a curious child, always asking, always wanting to know, always reading and studying, fascinated by the multitude of religions that exist in the world - and that are so much more similar than what one may think at first. I grew up side by side with Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses and Protestants, later on, in college, with Muslims as colleagues and friends. Over the years, thanks to politics and money getting in the way, and horrible events like 9/11, that shattered and changed public perception of those whose religion is different from what most Americans and Europeans deal with (believe in), the need for explaining, talking, enlightening people as to the differences and similarities that exist between the major religions of the world has grown more and more - and reached today a peak like never in recent history. Books like this one should be mandatory reading honestly! These ladies were tremendously brave and honest in exposing themselves like this, and their path towards mutual understanding and/or respect is one to be read about and learned from. Jews, Muslims and Christians share a lot and yet are the ones most likely to "but heads' over religion, creating deadly bloody conflicts that are sometimes the consequence of nothing more that ignorance of what the other stands for - and also many times consequence of the fact that, in this day and age, politics and money are taking the upper hand and God is the best "excuse" available to justify actions that are nothing short of murder. All this to say, and pardon my ramblings - Before you or me dismiss a friend, a coworker or even a family member as wrong, a heathen, a fool, just because he defends something different or believes in something different - please read, study, ask questions, truly learn from more than one source and understand what these so called differences are ...you might be surprised at how there are more similarities than you thought about, when it comes to what you and your colleague believe in. Is this a perfect book? not at all, but neither are its authors...no we readers for that matter. But is this a book worth your time? most assuredly yes...as long as you keep an open mind and leave all your own beliefs looked away in a box for the duration of your reading. Happy Readings!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    Sounding a bit like a bad joke--a Jew, a Muslim and a Christian sit down to talk about faith--this book was actually pretty good. Three women of different faiths wanted to write a children's book in the wake of 9/11. But it turns out that they didn't understand each other's faiths and didn't really trust each other. Probably not the best start for a book project. So they spent the next couple of years talking about different questions of faith--learning, growing, and, yes, ocassionally getting Sounding a bit like a bad joke--a Jew, a Muslim and a Christian sit down to talk about faith--this book was actually pretty good. Three women of different faiths wanted to write a children's book in the wake of 9/11. But it turns out that they didn't understand each other's faiths and didn't really trust each other. Probably not the best start for a book project. So they spent the next couple of years talking about different questions of faith--learning, growing, and, yes, ocassionally getting mad at each other. They faced each others' prejudices and ignorance as well as their own. Would that we all had the courage to have these kinds of conversations.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Lisa (Harmonybites)

    In the wake of 9/11, Ranya Idliby, a Muslim American of Palestinian descent was inspired by a passage in the Koran about Muhammad's Night Flight to write a children's interfaith book about the commonalities between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. She recruits two other mothers in the New York City area to help her write the book, Priscilla, a Reform Jew, and Suzanne, a Episcopalian Christian who was raised a Catholic. They find that before they can find common ground, they have to work through In the wake of 9/11, Ranya Idliby, a Muslim American of Palestinian descent was inspired by a passage in the Koran about Muhammad's Night Flight to write a children's interfaith book about the commonalities between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. She recruits two other mothers in the New York City area to help her write the book, Priscilla, a Reform Jew, and Suzanne, a Episcopalian Christian who was raised a Catholic. They find that before they can find common ground, they have to work through their differences. The book consists of their three intertwined first person narratives and snatches of transcripts of their conversations as they come together and clash and try to understand each other. I was raised as a Catholic and as an American I'm steeped in an overwhelmingly Christian culture. As a native New Yorker Judaism is also a religion that has represented something familiar and respected to me--I've had close Jewish friends and mentors, and I admit by and large I'm a fan of Israel. Nothing imparted about Christianity or Judaism or the views expressed by Priscilla or Suzanne surprised or challenged me. That leaves Islam, which I'm a lot less familiar with. I can't say I've ever personally known a Muslim. Ranya Idliby says "When Americans think of Islam, they think of terrorism, fanatics, abused women, spoiled rich Arabs, a religion of the sword spread by the sword." Guilty. I admit I have a lot to learn about Islam. I had read the Koran, well before 9/11, but I didn't get much out of it. Unlike Judaism and Christianity, I just didn't have the cultural context to. I admit of the three women, I found myself most resistant to Ranya's representations of her faith. When Ranya speaks of her unhappiness with how many Americans see Muhammad as a fraud who plagiarized Jewish and Christian texts, I have to admit that isn't far from what I believe. And Muhammad from what I've read was a warlord--a man who did impose his religion by force--Ranya herself alludes to that military aspect elliptically a few times while at the same time calling Muhammad "a man of peace." Ranya claims Islam is a tolerant religion from which you can "come and go"--yet I've heard that in countries following Shari'a law that you can be executed for converting people from Islam. Ranya does go into the distinction between the Wahabi Islam that has promoted fundamentalism and militarist Jihad and a more peaceful, moderate tradition, but I admit I ended the book still skeptical--but at least curious and wishing to put a biography of Muhammad on my reading list. Perhaps the one by Armstrong recommended in the bibliography. Yet at the same time it was easy to identify with Ranya and feel sympathy for the prejudice she had encountered. I was moved by the tale of how her family was driven out of Palestine and were unable to return, and yet unable to settle in Jordan and Kuwait but were made to feel like outsiders. She made me think about Israeli policy and feel for the displaced Palestinians. And she made at least her way of being Muslim sound very appealing. Ranya spoke of Islam's simplicity--about there being no Bar Mitzvah or Baptism making you a Muslim, but simply stating you recognize only one God, and that Muhammad is his prophet. That especially if you're a Sunni Muslim, that there is nothing standing between you and how you interpret the word of God and how you decide to worship. That as long as you acknowledge God, it doesn't really matter to your salvation whether you're a Jew, a Christian, or a Muslim nor can you be labeled an "infidel"--all three faiths are "people of the book." How a Muslim finds the proof of God in the beauty and order of the universe. And when Ranya spoke of her difficulties in finding a mosque that speaks to her needs to be part of a Muslim community in tune with her beliefs, I felt more than a bit of shame for my fellow New Yorkers' resistance against having a mosque go up near Ground Zero. All the more because her pastor, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, is involved. So Ranya's musings definitely was the portion of the book I found most valuable, where I found not just the most answers but questions. It's probably no accident given their search for common ground that each was a rather liberal representative of her religion. Priscilla following Reform Judaism but unsure of her God, Ranya sure of her faith in God but Mosque-less, and Suzanne a convert to one of the most socially and theologically liberal Christian denominations. Each women definitely touched me, spoke to me. I identified with their emotions in the wake of 9/11, and the challenges of their lives as they grappled with questions about dying, good and evil, dealing with tradition and stereotypes and pressures to conform. I was moved by how their collaboration became a friendship that changed each of them. These women could be my neighbors and their journey together is more meaningful to me than some doctrinaire book by a imam, minister and rabbi. Now, this book isn't going to give you an in-depth grounding in Judaism, Christianity or Islam. No question. But this makes a good beginning at least in imparting what the three religions have in common and what divides them. It should pique your interest to learn more, and the bibliography at the end of the book is a good place to start.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Willis

    It took me a few years, but I finally made time to read The Faith Club written by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver and Priscilla Warner. Just a few pages in, I found myself wondering why Id put this off for so long. In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, three women a Muslim, a Christian, and a Jew began meeting in hopes of writing a childrens book that would explain the intersection of their faiths, but they first had to honestly understand and appreciate each others points of view. These It took me a few years, but I finally made time to read The Faith Club written by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver and Priscilla Warner. Just a few pages in, I found myself wondering why I’d put this off for so long. In the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, three women — a Muslim, a Christian, and a Jew — began meeting in hopes of writing a children’s book that would explain the intersection of their faiths, but they first had to honestly understand and appreciate each other’s points of view. These gatherings rotated between their homes as they started to ask each other some really tough questions, delving into all the stereotypes, misunderstandings and more that have existed between the “Big Three” Abrahamic faiths for generations. The women began to refer to their three-person group as the “Faith Club,” and accompanied each other to religious services and along some of life’s more difficult journeys. I’d checked this book out of the library several times over the years, but it always ended up being returned, unread. Then, earlier this year, I got an email from my boyfriend’s sister, Doreen, who has been living in Nigeria the past couple of years while her husband is on work assignment there. She is a woman if faith herself, and she had reached out to me — a new Jew — to launch an interfaith dialogue. She wrote to me excitedly about a Muslim woman who had come to her Bible study group, looking to better understand Christianity and dispel misconceptions about her own faith. Wanting to form a women-specific interfaith group around the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Doreen asked me to join as the Jewish member. I declined — I figured such a group would be better served by someone who could meet with them face-to-face, rather than always corresponding via email or the occasional telephone call — but I was immediately reminded of this still unread book that I kept checking out of the library. I recommended The Faith Club to Doreen — and knew that I’d better read it, too. As a religious studies scholar and seminary-trained interfaith minister, I’m always a fan on honest and open dialogue between members of different religions. There’s a lot of sensitivity and compassion that are required for such conversations to succeed, and I know that for many, interfaith discussions can all too often end up feeling like walking on eggshells as participants navigate around sure-fire pitfalls and steer the conversation away from areas of controversy. What struck me most about this book was the fact that these women agreed on a no-holds-bar approach to their conversations. They gave themselves — and each other — permission to admit their fears, vent their frustrations, and ask any and every question about each other’s faith that happened to occur to them. A lot of these in-your-face, challenging questions wouldn’t have gone over so well at a congenial interfaith breakfast, let me tell you. But these three women stuck with each other, arguing, laughing and struggling their way through to real understanding, and real friendship. It’s an incredibly inspirational book, and not in a candy-coated, feel-good kind of way. Instead, it was the brutal honesty that drew me into this book, as these women laid their conversations and personal life details on the line. Keep in mind that they were having these conversations in New York City very soon after the terrorist attacks. They were dealing not only with their own emotional fallout, but with the reactions of their children, their family and friends, and all the crises of life that arise even when you’re not in the midst of a national crisis. My only disappointment was that I’d not cracked this book open earlier.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jennybug

    I really liked this book it was very thought provoking. It is a the perfect book to discuss at book club. Some people liked it, some didn't finish it, and others really enjoyed it. I think that it was a really good book that allowed everyone to share their opinions and ideas. It really got me to thinking. I actually marked it up with quite a few post its. Pg 8 "Where was God on September 11th?" Some people could feel God comforting them others felt alone. Pg 41 "This has always been a powerful I really liked this book it was very thought provoking. It is a the perfect book to discuss at book club. Some people liked it, some didn't finish it, and others really enjoyed it. I think that it was a really good book that allowed everyone to share their opinions and ideas. It really got me to thinking. I actually marked it up with quite a few post its. Pg 8 "Where was God on September 11th?" Some people could feel God comforting them others felt alone. Pg 41 "This has always been a powerful moment to me, " I confided. "I'm wearing the sandals of the people on the street that day, and I can feel how easily one might go along with the blood thirsty crowd. To me the crowd is humanity. There were sympathizers of Christ, enemies of Christ, and probably lots of people that didn't care one way or the other. As i speak, I don't think about Jews killing Jesus. So many in the story, including Jesus, were Jews! I think of the times in my own life when I have not followed Jesus, when I have turned my back and cried metaphorically, "Crucify Him!" Pg 55 "We were breaking an unspoken social rule. We were talking about God and religion at a time when stakes were high, when turmoil and confusion were the order of the day. We were harried, busy mothers, but at our meetings we found ourselves released from time, suspended from the reality of the outside world. No matter how harrowing of challenging our conversations became, we found ourselves addicted, unable to imagine not pursing the dialogue that had us coming back for more, week after week. Other quotes I liked. Pg 93 Pg 103 Pg 122 Pg 161 Pg 241 Happy Holidays At times I felt that these women were all looking for their religion to be adaptive to their life styles. They didn't seem willing to make sacrifices for their religion. They wanted it to be easy. I feel that a persons level of commitment is just as important as ones faith. Some people claim they have faith, yet are they truly willing to commit? I felt that having this faith club helped these women to strengthen their faith in their own individual religions.

  16. 4 out of 5

    pianogal

    This book left me with a bad taste in my mouth. It seemed like a very strong Christian woman got together with a searching Muslim and a lapsed Jew. Instead of her pulling them stronger into their faiths (not converting just supporting), and showing them see how to be (in their respective faiths) by example, they seemed to pull her out of hers. It shocked me that the Jewish woman didn't know the phrase "chosen people." Seriously, you went to Hebrew Day School and never heard that you were the This book left me with a bad taste in my mouth. It seemed like a very strong Christian woman got together with a searching Muslim and a lapsed Jew. Instead of her pulling them stronger into their faiths (not converting just supporting), and showing them see how to be (in their respective faiths) by example, they seemed to pull her out of hers. It shocked me that the Jewish woman didn't know the phrase "chosen people." Seriously, you went to Hebrew Day School and never heard that you were the "chosen people"? Wow. I went to public school in the Midwest and I knew that at least. Overall, the concept was great (we all need to be more accepting of one another - not tolerating, not compromising but accepting), but I thought the book was weak and kind of sad. Suzanne (Christian lady) - how can you give up Jesus? You don't have to judge other people's religions to keep Him. Maybe it would have worked better if the woman had been more balanced in their faith walk prior to forming The Faith Club. Would I recommend this book to others - probably not.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I left this book thinking...I'm glad for these three women that they developed a friendship founded on interesting, courageous conversations. I appreciate the honesty of these authors in attempting to self-examine the stereotypes they individually hold and apply to others. However, as a reader, the premise of the book would be more interesting if the three conversationalists held strong, traditional beliefs in their respective religions. These authors promote instead a 'universalist' approach of I left this book thinking...I'm glad for these three women that they developed a friendship founded on interesting, courageous conversations. I appreciate the honesty of these authors in attempting to self-examine the stereotypes they individually hold and apply to others. However, as a reader, the premise of the book would be more interesting if the three conversationalists held strong, traditional beliefs in their respective religions. These authors promote instead a 'universalist' approach of adjusting belief until they feel everyone is included. I'd rather read about honest conversations that tackle the tough stuff: Either Jesus is the Messiah or He's not, Either Jesus is God or He's not, What about Sura 9 and abrogation? Can believers who agree with the traditional interpretation of their religions' authoritative texts forge a respectful, honest friendship while disagreeing about substantial truths? That would be an interesting read. This book is simply ok.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    If I hadn't had to read this in order to run a book club discussion for my library, I probably wouldn't have picked it up. I'm what would be referred to as a non-believer, and my idea of fun was not to read a book about religion that might in any way be preachy. Well, I was pleasantly surprised! The three women of this book actually took a look at their religions in a very honest, forthright manner. I think it probably helped that they were all were from more liberal establishments of their If I hadn't had to read this in order to run a book club discussion for my library, I probably wouldn't have picked it up. I'm what would be referred to as a non-believer, and my idea of fun was not to read a book about religion that might in any way be preachy. Well, I was pleasantly surprised! The three women of this book actually took a look at their religions in a very honest, forthright manner. I think it probably helped that they were all were from more liberal establishments of their faiths; extremists or fundamentalists probably wouldn't have lasted through the first meeting. They questioned each other, and also their own beliefs, to arrive at an important conclusion: we are all more alike than we are different. I highly recommend the book - especially to those ignorant of other faiths (or too wrapped up in their own).

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jeanne

    I began reading this book after spending a semester exploring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with my students. I am currently a bit over half way through the book. It has provided the personal continuation and exploration that I needed following our studies. The book is written as a shifting three-person memoir based on the women's meetings, offering individual perspectives on their encounters and explorations of their faith. In some ways, I fear I am reading the book too quickly; many I began reading this book after spending a semester exploring the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with my students. I am currently a bit over half way through the book. It has provided the personal continuation and exploration that I needed following our studies. The book is written as a shifting three-person memoir based on the women's meetings, offering individual perspectives on their encounters and explorations of their faith. In some ways, I fear I am reading the book too quickly; many questions are raised that I would like to ponder more deeply myself and to enter into dialogue with other women.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Carole

    The Faith Club was a really important book that taught me a great deal about the three major monotheistic religions of the world - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. I was fascinated to learn how they are far more similar than different and even more important, this book compelled me to pursue more knowledge. I really knew very little about Muslims and I learned a tremendous amount, although it's only a starting point as this book shares thoughts on faith from three limited viewpoints. The The Faith Club was a really important book that taught me a great deal about the three major monotheistic religions of the world - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. I was fascinated to learn how they are far more similar than different and even more important, this book compelled me to pursue more knowledge. I really knew very little about Muslims and I learned a tremendous amount, although it's only a starting point as this book shares thoughts on faith from three limited viewpoints. The beauty, however, is in these women's quests to seek understanding of one another and to differentiate between political actions and religion.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Susan Phillips

    In the shadow of 9/11, three modern American women-a Muslim, a Jew, and a Christian-learn about each other's religion and deepen their own faith. I wish everyone would read this book. It gets a bit repetitive at the end, and I skimmed a bit there, but, wow, talk about understanding both your own and others belief systems... Highly recommend.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Theresa

    I give a lot of books 5 stars. This one should get more. A must read for everyone.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michelle

    This is one of the most rediculous books I have ever read. I forced myself to finish it so that I could give a fair review. I wanted to make sure that the authors didn't draw a different conclusion than what it sounded like they were headed toward. Basically, they have decided that there is no such thing as truth. They didn't do research into their own religions to find out why people believe what they believe. They didn't research reasons why people should believe what different religious This is one of the most rediculous books I have ever read. I forced myself to finish it so that I could give a fair review. I wanted to make sure that the authors didn't draw a different conclusion than what it sounded like they were headed toward. Basically, they have decided that there is no such thing as truth. They didn't do research into their own religions to find out why people believe what they believe. They didn't research reasons why people should believe what different religious documents say. They basically don't want to hurt anyone's feelings and sat around talking and decided that it doesn't matter what you believe as long as you are a good person. None of them actually believes in their religion. It's like they made up their own religion. Whatever faith you are, you should research the evidence behind your religious documents. Figure out what the truth is. Truth matters. Don't just say that everyone is right because you are worried about hurting feelings. Seek TRUTH! This book is totally bogus.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew - Three Women In Search of Understanding - Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner In the wake of 9/11, three mothers, living in and near New York City, got together to try to write a book for children about the basic stories of the Abrahamic faiths. Ranya, a Palestinian-American trying to come to grip with what her Muslim faith meant in an American context; Priscilla, a skeptical Jew; and Suzanne, a convinced Christian who had converted The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew - Three Women In Search of Understanding - Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner In the wake of 9/11, three mothers, living in and near New York City, got together to try to write a book for children about the basic stories of the Abrahamic faiths. Ranya, a Palestinian-American trying to come to grip with what her Muslim faith meant in an American context; Priscilla, a skeptical Jew; and Suzanne, a convinced Christian who had converted from Catholicism to Anglicanism as an adult, together decided to meet weekly to come to some common understanding they could share. I'm not sure they ever wrote the children's book, but the result of their conversations about life, faith, ethnicity, family, motherhood, death, eternity, and, most especially, God, is this very adult book about what it means (and doesn't mean) to seek what has come to be called "interfaith dialogue." The book was first published in 2006. I will disclose that I was hesitant then (and now) to read this book. Having been involved in "interfaith dialogue" courses with Selaha R. and Marv P. (in Minneapolis) and Jan R (in Portland), I know that what counts as interfaith "dialogue" is often the conclusion that "we all worship the same God and isn't that just lovely," without any attention paid to the real differences between us and the wretched conflicts and abuse that mark our long histories. I was afraid, after a very cursory look at the book when it first came out, that this was just another one of THOSE kinds of easy picnics in the interfaith park. I should have looked more deeply! "The Faith Club" represents a genuine exchange over several years between three women who become very close friends in the process of discussing their deepest hopes and greatest fears. It is a faithful reporting of the conflicts, prejudices, misunderstandings that they faced as they sought to probe their respective faiths together. In the process, each was changed - Ranya finally found a way to be Muslim and American; Suzanne struggled with doubts she'd never had before about the divinity of Jesus, the concept of eternal life, and the meaning of the symbols and rituals of the church; and Priscilla became, as she called it, "a born again Jew," discovering a faith which she in her proud Jewish ethnicity had never embraced before. The book includes journal entries on topics they choose to explore, summaries of some of the conversations they had as well as the reflections of each of the participants on what they experienced in the process of probing some of the common questions each faith asks and the history of how each faith has behaved in relationship to the others. They ultimately read each other's "holy book" and ended up participating in one another's formal worship experiences. They each struggled with the behavior of some of their co-religionists toward the other faiths and the great damage done by those who use whichever religion as a weapon. The book also includes helpful hints in establishing your own "faith club" and also a quick, but very helpful summary of the basic beliefs and practices of each Abrahamic faith. In the process of their conversations, they concluded that God is MUCH greater than the sum of the individual parts each faith professes. BUT, and this is why I can recommend this book without any hesitation, there is nothing neat and tidy and "lovely" about that conclusion. It is messy because WE human creatures are messy ----- and limited in what we understand about ourselves, "the other," and God. Through genuine conversation like that displayed by these three friends, we can come a long way in understanding what we ourselves do believe and honestly acknowledging what we don't know yet. The friendship made each of them a better believer in her respective religion. I'd like to think the book would do that for anyone who reads it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Arlene Hayman

    A dear friend loaned me her copy of The Faith Club, as I was reading The Red Tent for my book club, and pondering over how Islam, Christianity, and Judaism all came from similar historical roots and might fit together in harmony. In this nonfiction book, three women, a Muslim, a Christian, and a Jew, meet over a series of years to chronicle some of their thoughts and discussions regarding their beliefs in their religions and their ideas about faith. What seems to have resulted as an outcome of A dear friend loaned me her copy of The Faith Club, as I was reading The Red Tent for my book club, and pondering over how Islam, Christianity, and Judaism all came from similar historical roots and might fit together in harmony. In this nonfiction book, three women, a Muslim, a Christian, and a Jew, meet over a series of years to chronicle some of their thoughts and discussions regarding their beliefs in their religions and their ideas about faith. What seems to have resulted as an outcome of their frank conversations, is an understanding and harmonious respect for the diversity and similarities of each religion. Having such interfaith conversations helped the three women to realize, that although they might worship God in different ways, through their own cultural and religious practices, they could participate in some of the ritualistic events and appreciate the other women’s faith in God. I especially loved the poem which Priscilla, the Jewish woman, heard at a funeral she attended, and it totally addressed the way that I feel wanting to pass on a spirit of love, long after I am gone. The poem reads: Epitaph By Merritt Malloy When I die Give what’s left of me away To children And old men that want to die. And if you need to cry, Cry for your brother Walking the street beside you. And when you need me, Put your arms Around anyone And give them What you need to give to me. I want to leave you something, Something better Than words Or sounds. Look for me In the people I’ve known Or loved, And if you cannot give me away, At least let me live on in your eyes And not on your mind. You can love me most By letting Hands touch hands, By letting Bodies touch bodies And by letting go Of children That need to be free. Love doesn’t die, People do. So, when all that’s left of me Is love, Give me away. I was so fortunate to have been invited to participate in Ramadan dinners recently, and I have come to respect Muslim teachings about love, kindness, and respect toward others, as well as Islamic discipline and fortitude in fasting (meaning no eating and drinking of fluids until after dusk for the whole month of Ramadan). God’s outpouring of love for others is truly manifested in a pluralistic attitude, embracing diversity in religions and realizing that we are all God’s children. The three women of The Faith Club sought to promote such an open-minded approach through their insightful discussions about their faith, and the last chapter of the book even provides detailed advice of how to start a faith club.

  26. 4 out of 5

    gurpreet kaur

    An interesting inter faith dialogue between three mothers of the three major monotheistic religions of the world ; a Muslim ,a Christian and a Jew. Not heavy with religion, the book discusses many questions on faith, God, death, rituals and the like, questions which pop up in the minds of most people. Each one of us interprets religion in our own way and this book is more about religion within rather than religion without. All religions believe in the oneness of God and boil down to one morality An interesting inter faith dialogue between three mothers of the three major monotheistic religions of the world ; a Muslim ,a Christian and a Jew. Not heavy with religion, the book discusses many questions on faith, God, death, rituals and the like, questions which pop up in the minds of most people. Each one of us interprets religion in our own way and this book is more about religion within rather than religion without. All religions believe in the oneness of God and boil down to one morality — To love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love our fellow beings as ourselves. All religions have the same moral values, but most people confuse them with social values and since religious practices are different it is assumed that moral values are different too. Religion has often ended up being a polarizing factor rather than a unifying one. I liked the journey of the faith club, the way Ranya ,Suzanne and Priscilla ironed out their differences, found common ground and strengthened each other’s faith.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I read this book for my "activism through reading project" in an attempt to learn more about the Muslim faith. I am glad I selected a memoir-style of book as it was very accessible and engaging. This book is written by 3 women - a Christian, a Jew and a Muslim - who meet shortly after 9/11 to attempt to write a children's book about their faiths. They end up realizing that they needed to gain an understanding of each others' beliefs first, which was a multi-year endeavor. I read this book to I read this book for my "activism through reading project" in an attempt to learn more about the Muslim faith. I am glad I selected a memoir-style of book as it was very accessible and engaging. This book is written by 3 women - a Christian, a Jew and a Muslim - who meet shortly after 9/11 to attempt to write a children's book about their faiths. They end up realizing that they needed to gain an understanding of each others' beliefs first, which was a multi-year endeavor. I read this book to learn more about the Islamic faith, but I learned a lot about the Jewish faith and some of the roots of antisemitism. These women worked through difficult issues and resolved stereotypes in a very thoughtful and respectful manner. I would recommend this to anyone who would like to be able to speak more knowledgeably about other faiths, specifically the Muslim faith. It's a shame that the extremist branch of the Islamic faith is the loudest voice of the Muslim community because as a result, there is a great misconception in the western world of what it means to be a Muslim. Because the message of the Muslim faith is similar to the Christian and Jewish faiths, which is to love God with all your heart, soul mind and strength and to love your neighbor as yourself.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Prompted by 9/11, a Muslim American mother recruits 2 other moms, one Christian, one Jewish, to form an interfaith discussion group w/ the aim of writing a children's book showing what unites the 3 religions. What I really liked about this book (aside from being written in 1st person from each of their perspectives) is that the foundation of their discussions was based on a foundation of open, honest communication and mutual respect. WIth this foundation in place, no holds were barred as they Prompted by 9/11, a Muslim American mother recruits 2 other moms, one Christian, one Jewish, to form an interfaith discussion group w/ the aim of writing a children's book showing what unites the 3 religions. What I really liked about this book (aside from being written in 1st person from each of their perspectives) is that the foundation of their discussions was based on a foundation of open, honest communication and mutual respect. WIth this foundation in place, no holds were barred as they could safely address each others questions, concerns, assumptions, and predjudices and come to a genuine understanding and appreciation of the others' faith and religion. It's a very thought provoking book in the sense that you almost put yourself as the fourth member, exploring and challenging your own ideas. This was my second reading and could easily read it again.

  29. 4 out of 5

    JoAnna

    I loved the honest and open dialogue in this book. I have read other reviews that criticized the fact that the women were not "orthodox" enough in their respective religions, but this is an autobiographical book, and it would not have rang true if they tried to represent themselves as something they are not. When the project started, they did not plan to write this book (the original,project was a children's book about the thing the three religions have in common.) The point of this book is not I loved the honest and open dialogue in this book. I have read other reviews that criticized the fact that the women were not "orthodox" enough in their respective religions, but this is an autobiographical book, and it would not have rang true if they tried to represent themselves as something they are not. When the project started, they did not plan to write this book (the original,project was a children's book about the thing the three religions have in common.) The point of this book is not to affirm the religion of the reader or convince the reader that their beliefs are wrong. It is simply a dialogue aimed at gaining a deeper understanding of people of other faiths. I also think it does a great job of challenging the stereotypes and encourages the reader to avoid pre-judging others before getting to know them.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    A Muslim, a Christian and a Jew walk into a New York apartment... Ranya, Suzanne and Priscilla are mothers struggling with faith after 9/11. They start a writing project that will explain the commonalities of their religions to children, but quickly realize they share values, but not necessarily interpretations. Thus launches the Faith Club, a multi-year project in which the women read, research and explore their own faiths and share findings and questions with each other. In some ways, this is a A Muslim, a Christian and a Jew walk into a New York apartment... Ranya, Suzanne and Priscilla are mothers struggling with faith after 9/11. They start a writing project that will explain the commonalities of their religions to children, but quickly realize they share values, but not necessarily interpretations. Thus launches the Faith Club, a multi-year project in which the women read, research and explore their own faiths and share findings and questions with each other. In some ways, this is a 4-star book. All three women confront their own stereotypes and cherished beliefs and are very honest about their journey. Unfortunately, the writing is drab. This would be an interesting choice for a book club or even a Bible study group.

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