Review: “If The Oceans Were Ink” by Carla Power

22320455If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran by Carla Power

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If the Oceans Were Ink is Carla Power’s eye-opening story of how she and her longtime friend Sheikh Mohammad Akram Nadwi found a way to confront ugly stereotypes and persistent misperceptions that were cleaving their communities. Their friendship-between a secular American and a madrasa-trained sheikh-had always seemed unlikely, but now they were frustrated and bewildered by the battles being fought in their names. Both knew that a close look at the Quran would reveal a faith that preached peace and not mass murder; respect for women and not oppression. And so they embarked on a yearlong journey through the controversial text.

A journalist who grew up in the Midwest and the Middle East, Power offers her unique vantage point on the Quran’s most provocative verses as she debates with Akram at cafes, family gatherings, and packed lecture halls, conversations filled with both good humor and powerful insights. Their story takes them to madrasas in India and pilgrimage sites in Mecca, as they encounter politicians and jihadis, feminist activists and conservative scholars. Armed with a new understanding of each other’s worldviews, Power and Akram offer eye-opening perspectives, destroy long-held myths, and reveal startling connections between worlds that have seemed hopelessly divided for far too long.

4 stars

Up until this point, I haven’t been too impressed by the books that I’ve been reading for my Spiritual Journeys class. Stephen Dubner’s Choosing My Religion was written poorly and lacked much depth. The second book, Monique and the Mango RainsĀ by Kris Holloway, was even more surface level with a hidden amount of white privilege on top. I still haven’t finished the third one due to missed classes.

This book, however, changed everything. Here, at last, was the deep kind of inter-religious engagement that I had been looking for all this time, with an author I trusted to do the subject justice.

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