No God But God by Reza Aslan – Book Review

By The Gorgeous Palah Chingu

This is such an excellent book. It was well elaborated and provoking in the same time.

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My Rating : 5/5

I was raised in the environment of strictly religious sunni muslim background. Not that i wanted to label myself as Sunni Muslim (i’d like to think we are all Muslims regardless of how the individuals practices and approaches their own religion). However, reading about other branches of Islam like Shiite and Sufi definitely is a treat to myself. I have been longing to know about it but i just cant find the right book that is not heavily one sided. Usually, it will be one sided and most of the arguments stressed on how their side of religion overrule one another.

To be honest, the book is quite thrilling and challenging to me. There are terms and words that forced me to open online dictionary to understand it’s meaning. There are moment that i have to look at it’s own glossary to really comprehend what is Reza Aslan try to share with his readers. Sometimes, i have to stop for a while and absorb all the facts from his book.Trust me, this book provided me more information about my own religion than what my 5 years combined in Islamic Boarding School. In my school, all they (Ustaz and Ustazah) talked about is ritual. Ritual (in a very conservative society such as mine) somehow influenced and judged heavily on being a good Muslim. If you are reading Quran everyday, then you are considered a good Muslim. the downfall for this is reading and understand is not the same. That’s what Reza Aslan try to point out in his writing. He was very bold on writing over the controversial sub topic. He criticized how some Islamic Scholars misinterprets Islamic law for their own purpose.

I was forced to enroll in Islamic boarding school when i was thirteen. Those 5 years living in that boarding school can be sum it up as hell to me. I didnt fit in and i kind of questioned everything especially when the culture of women seclusion seems normal in that school. Having read this book, it seriously opened my eyes especially Women rights in Islam. It is undeniably underrated in Islam. When reza pointed out his arguments of veil and the symbolization of Muslim women chastity in this book, i couldn’t be more happier. Anyway, the only added advantage that i got having an Islamic educational background is i am familiar with some of Arabic terms in this book. When Reza  Aslan argued on whether Hadith is legitimate sources because of their Isnad, or on the rationality of using Ijtihad than Hadith, I understood what is meant by  Hadith, Isnad or Ijtihad. I learned it before in school.

Overall, this is an excellent reading. Everything is written in elaborated style but in the same time you can understand it. From Prophet Muhammad history to 9/11 post effect, all of it has been covered in this. Yes, this book might challenged and provoked your thinking and idea about Islam ( especially the one you thought you knew) but thats the whole point of reading it. You may agree to disagree with Reza Aslan’s points but that means you are doing some thinking of your own. Rather than accepting it wholly without questioning it, i would prefer this approach better. Yes, Reza Aslan may go a bit overboard with his writing over how shiite was formed but that’s something i can accept considering he himself is a shiite Muslim.

This book can refresh the new idea of Islam and maybe in the same time, we can embrace this long-awaited Islamic Reformation. This book is highly recommended to any non-muslims who wanted to know more about Islam.

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