Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women – A Book Review

January 23, 2012

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Deeply touching and intimate, the 25 stories in Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women, reveal the elegance and universality of love and faith. Written by American Muslim women of all ages, races and nationalities, many of them first generation Americans struggling to bridge the cultural gap, they tell of love found and love lost, of arranged marriages that work and those that do not, of coming out and  staying in the closet; the full range of human experience for women of every country and religion, and no doubt shocking for more orthodox Muslims.

It is above all an honest book of  love stories that transcend religion, a perfect book to upend the stereotypical Western misconceptions of veiled and abused Muslim women. These tales are filled with hope and humor and life, and I confess that I laughed and cried by turns with these brave and amazing women. Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi, who collected and edited the stories and wrote two of them, are owed a debt of gratitude, and I pray that the day will soon come when love stories by the millions of American Muslim women will be less a secret and just another part of everyday American life. I loved it!

Ya Haqq!

Note:  To pre-order the book, read more reviews and interviews with the writers, or to find future book-signing events, visit the Love, InshAllah website HERE.

Note:  To read the New York Times article on the backstory of Love, InshAllah, click HERE.

10 Methods of the Heavenly Dragon – Book Review!

January 9, 2012

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

A truly remarkable book, Ten Methods of the Heavenly Dragon is profound and deeply moving! This first person account of a lifelong seeker Robert Sheaffer’s apprenticeship with Shun Yuan, a gentle, Western-born Adept of the Tao and Taiji martial arts, enthralls the reader both as a teaching story and an introduction to as remarkable a man as any hero out of fiction. In the end, though I did not want it to end, I was left with a sublime sense of inevitability and peace. A truly amazing achievement!

The unfolding of the 10 Methods of the Heavenly Dragon are beautifully told within the intricacies of Bagua, the “eight symbols” used in Taoist cosmology and the elegant, deadly forms of Chinese martial arts, each method translated into hard learned lessons of everyday life. The Tao emphasizes getting past your preconceptions and your ego; in effect, getting out of your own way. I for one am very grateful for the lesson.

Ya Haqq!

Note:  The book has also won the Gold Medal in the Living Now Book Awards for 2013.  Congratulation!



New Review of Master of the Jinn

February 5, 2011

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

There is a new and very good review of Master of the Jinn on, written by Debora McNichol.  It reads:

I enjoyed reading Master of the Jinn in spite of myself. I am an impatient and busy person, and don’t usually have a chance to pick up a book until 1/2 hour past bedtime. So color me pleasantly surprised when I found myself staying up to the wee hours to finish this book over a couple nights. The story moves quickly, yet stimulates the imagination. This might be a good book choice for adolescent boys, who don’t have many *clean* and interesting choices. MotJ is an action packed adventure, yet spiritual, too. Karchmar’s respect for the human condition is apparent in the nobility and dignity of his characters. I recommend this book.

To read all the Amazon reviews of Master of the Jinn, click HERE.

Ya Haqq!

Book Review – Deserts and Mountains by Yilmaz Alimoglu

October 5, 2010

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Deserts and Mountains, the debut novel by Yilmaz Alimoglu, is a lovingly told tale, and an adventure of self-discovery that is also a Sufi journey, all written with warmth and wisdom, tenderness and real affection for the characters.

Ali Dogan is a expatriate Turk living in Canada who in the first chapter has separated from his wife and two children. He is also a new dervish on the Sufi path, and when he asks his Sheikh for advice, he is told (in a truly beautiful, descriptive way) to seek knowledge, so as to understand what his heart is telling him. This sage advice begins his journey, which takes him literally to deserts and mountains in both a physical and spiritual way.

From Canada to Turkey (and his mother and father who still live in the same village), with side trips to the Acropolis in Greece and the Alhambra in Spain, he takes the reader on his journey of knowledge – from the new world to the old, from the freedom of Canada to the repressive state in Turkey, where primitive and cruel customs still prevail, to Greece and the beginnings of real civilization, the “birthplace” of Western knowledge, to the Alhambra, a symbol of the golden age of Islamic knowledge.

Even in Istanbul, that ancient metropolis that is the bridge between East and West, there lingers what he calls the corrupt remains of the Ottoman Empire, and the old and ugly patriarchal ways women are treated like property. He encounter this first hand when he develops a crush on Nour, a brilliant Turkish co-worker who cannot escape the fate of being a divorced woman with a jealous ex-husband.

Onward the journey continues, to Germany where the emotional stress of Nour takes its toll, then to Mali and the Sahara, and at last coming to terms with the vulnerable and confused man that Ali is, and of the soul seeking knowledge, balance, peace of heart and mind, which in the end he finds where he began.

Deserts and Mountains is as much a Sufi journey as a human journey, made by each of us in our own way, and Ali finally discovers the truth of the words the great Persian poet wrote 800 years ago:

Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find
all the barriers within yourself
that you have built against it.

-Jalaluddin Rumi

Ya Haqq!

Review of Meister der Jinn – the German Translation

September 26, 2010

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

Here is an old review (June, 2009) a friend was kind enough to finally translate of Meister der Jinn, the German translation of Master of the Jinn, from the magazine Spirit Connection. To order the book, click HERE.

Sufism in the Form of a Novel

This Sufi novel leads the reader into the desert, in a sandstorm, which brings the hidden into the light, into a night out of the limits of time and into the city of the Jinn. The Jinn are, like humans and angels, creatures fashioned by God; they possess free will and their fortunes/destiny lie at the core of this story.

The external journey is at the same time an inner spiritual one. The adventure of a Master and his Dervishes (Sufi apprentices) is very vividly described, so that one can easily empathize with its images. The rhythm of the novel alternates between slow passages and intensive climactic moments, thus ensuring suspense. As in the novels of Paulo Coehlo, the characters, adventures and spiritual notions are kneaded into a mixture; one is so riveted by the events of the book that one wants to read the book very quickly to the end. Through the statements of the main character of the novel and the interspersed citations of Sufi Masters, the reader is brought closer to an understanding of Sufi Philosophy.  Not only is the Terminology of the Sufis explained in a glossary at the end of the book, but also short and concise elucidations are given in the text itself so that one does not always need to leaf back and forth through the pages of the book.

It is possible that some will feel that there is a lack of philosophical depth; however, that is not necessarily the purpose of a novel. In any case, emotionally sensitive people will not be shortchanged and will be able to be deeply touched. But then again, the end was too sweet for my personal taste with its Hollywood-type happy conclusion.

Readers who are easily stimulated into reflection will find in this book enough opportunities to do so, for example when the Master asks: “And do you also think that they do not know what you think of them now”?  If this had been the case in our own reality, how differently we would feel inwardly and how differently we would all live together outwardly.

In all, this is a felicitous book that presents a good change from the many spiritual “non-fiction books”.

– Alfred Groff

Ya Haqq!

Book Review – The Butterfly Mosque by G. Willow Wilson

September 12, 2010

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

G. Willow Wilson is honest to the bone, and I laughed and cried by turns at the vivid and poetic account of her life’s journey in The Butterfly Mosque.

From a student’s philosophic interest in Islam to a religious awakening in the hospital while suffering from what she calls adrenal distress, to Egypt, where she accepted a teaching position for a year, to meeting Omar, her adored and adoring soon-to-be Sufi husband and his extended family—all against the backdrop of the Middle Eastern way of life in Cairo, that overcrowded, overhot, overdusty great city of the Nile.

Willow’s descriptive and analytical powers are at once affectionate and insightful. The Middle Eastern way of life, with its emphasis on family and community interdependence instead of independence, its Islamic tradition of courtesy and hospitality,  and its foundation of religion woven into every aspect of daily living, is something few in the secular West seem to appreciate.

Indeed, the Middle East division of the State Department as well as Western Think Tanks and Islamic Studies seminars would benefit greatly if The Butterfly Mosque were required reading.

Her candor is both refreshing and thoughtfully intelligent, and her bravery in forging a common ground, a space in which to live with her husband and within Islam the way her heart beckoned, is to glimpse what is left unsaid, but there between the lines—those that accept their calling and follow their heart are on the Divine path, no matter their religion.

If you have not yet read this wise and intimate memoir, buy a copy now, or order it online here, or check it out of your local library.  Willow’s is a life worth knowing.

Highly Recommended!

Ya Haqq!

Book Notes, a Review – Master of the Jinn

August 13, 2010

Salaam and Greetings of Peace:

New Review:

An intricate and excellent new review of Master of the Jinn has been added to its page on You can read it in its entirety HERE.

Master of the Jinn in INDIA.

Alhamdulillah! Master of the Jinn will be published in India.

Ebooks: has reported that it sold more Ebooks in 2010 than hardback books. I can see Ebooks also outselling paperbacks in the future, especially since the Kindle book reader has been discounted to $114.00. And Master of the Jinn has sold as many or more Kindle Ebooks than paperbacks in the last few months.

Ramadan Mubarak!

Ya Haqq!