Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Five Reasons Christians Should Read Khaled Hosseini

I've just finished reading "A Thousand Splendid Suns" by Afghan-American author, Khaled Hosseini. This is the last of his three novels I've read, and I've been impressed with him as an author, a theologian and a person. I want to take this opportunity to share with you five reasons to give his books a try, specifically if you are a follower of Jesus:

1. His books preach tolerance, compassion and empathy without being preachy. The number one rule of writing is "show, don't tell" and Hosseini is an expert at letting his character's actions speak the words of life for which our world is in desperate need. It can get a little exhausting to read of abuse after abuse perpetrated against Afghanistan's women and marginalized, but there's little doubt of the accuracy of Hosseini's portrayals.

2. Reading a Hosseini novel shows the beauty as well as the darkness in Islam. I am frustrated by Christians who believe that Islam is an entirely evil religion. Islam is a false religion, of course, because it does not proclaim the word of God whose name is love in Jesus. But, it does not mean that it doesn't also contain truth and beauty at many points. As they say, a broken clock is still right twice a day. Hosseini's books provide great connection points for Christians trying to find common ground and understanding with Muslims - and if you're not trying for that, you SHOULD be.

3. Hosseini's books are not anti-American in any form. He shows the tragedies committed in Afghanistan without passing judgment on the political entities involved. With that said, certainly the U.S. DOES need called to account for its actions in Afghanistan at certain points, and you could glean some insight into the problems we've caused there in his books.

4. The books are a good mix of drama, introspection and fantasy. My favorite is his latest, "And the Mountains Echoed," which has become one of my most beloved books. However, his earliest and best-known book, "Kite Runner," is certainly just as worthy of a read.

5. Hosseini is writing today, he's writing well, and he's writing in a way that will expand your mind and open your heart. That is what all good art, especially fiction, can do. Give him a shot!


Caleb Frank said...

Quincy, I need to disagree with you a bit on point 2. I certainly can't say I'm more informed on Islam and its roots than you are but I have researched it and have personally found nothing but evil in its ideology and theology. Not only because it leads its followers away from Jesus but because it actively encourages them to do evil in "god's" name.

In the Quran you can find countless directives to do evil of every kind: Murder, Lying, Conquest, Rape, Slavery. While it is true there are sections (particularly in the earlier chapters) that speak of peace and tolerance these are made hollow by the horrific actions of Muhammad himself and his claims to divine justification for those actions.

History also shows that while both Christianity and Islam have had their good and evil claimants, Islam has always been an evil influence dragging its practitioners toward barbarism and hatred. Christianity on the other hand has always been a force for good, dragging its adherents (however slowly) toward peace and love.

I want to be clear that I'm only talking about Islam itself, not individual Muslims. The majority are almost certainly decent people trying to live as best they can. Most human beings, Christian or not, desire to do good because of the innate calling of the Holy Spirit. Any good or beauty that exists within the Islamic world is due only to this desire and is in spite of Islam.

To sum up my thoughts I would say that Muslims are children of God with a spark of the divine just as each of us are and that we as Christians have a duty to love, understand, accept, and witness to all of them in the best way we can. But Islam itself is an evil akin to Nazism and Leninism and to ignore that fact would be a mistake.

One final thought is that I would be more than willing to admit if I am wrong in any of my thoughts here. I have stated things definitively only because its easier than adding a lot of "from what I've read..." and "based on what I know..." and "I think..." statements. While I have researched Islam's history, origins, and theologies it has not been exhaustive or total.

Quincy Wheeler said...

Caleb, thank you so much for your well-thought out comment. I intend to go back and reread the Koran and examine my approach to this issue. I am aware of the incredible darkness within the Koran, and the tremendous violence perpetrated by Muhammed. It was NOT established as a religion of peace and love, and I should have made that clear, here. My point is that the practice of Islam today and the interpretation of the Koran by many devout Muslims is often times a practice of peace and love. They reinterpret their religion by some of those earlier passages you mention, and discount the later passages and the oppression found in their history. THAT is what I think we should acknowledge and for which I think we can show appreciation. Thank you for your correction, brother.