War for Islam, The
The future of the world hangs in the balance as the religion of peace struggles against violent opposition.
It is 2090 and the world is on the verge of domination by the Caliphate. The future hangs in the balance as the religion of peace struggles against violent opposition.
Islamist fanatics covering the globe are killing, burning, and bombing in an extravagant display of well-coordinated force designed to terrorize humanity out of its “godless slumber.” But two brilliant Muslim women are determined to save their religion from its counterfeit, supported by the non-Muslim religion professor they both love.
Their weapons aren’t guns and bombs, but ideas and inspired brave leadership.
As they race to show the world a new way to be Muslim and strive to return tolerance and understanding to the human race, their breathtaking adventure takes the reader from New York City to Europe, Japan, India, and Sudan. The bizarre massacres devised by the Caliphate keep steady pressure on these complex and courageous women, as do the multi-million-dollar fatwas on their lives…
Can the war for the very soul of Islam be won?
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Liked it! It was a delight to read. If only we had people like Si and Saira for real. Maybe after we're long gone... ~ Bonnie Dodson, Siena, Italy, personal correspondence
Look at the title: "The War for Islam." It is almost guaranteed that whatever you anticipate the book will be about will be off the mark. Ultimately you will understand the nature of “the war” and realize the accuracy of the title. The cover quote from Dr. Norman Prigge states it well: “A uniquely ambitious project, (Stafford) Betty raises profoundly important questions and delights the reader along the way.” "The War for Islam" is “uniquely ambitious” in that Cal State Bakersfield Professor of Religious Studies Stafford Betty appears to have had at least five goals in mind. First, a captivating novel. Second, to clarify the “war” between the majority adherents of moderate Islam and the minority of the radical fundamentalist branch who call for fatwas and for sharia law imposed on all…..it is the struggle, the war, for the very heart and soul of Islam, a struggle that those outside Islam need to appreciate. A third goal is to acknowledge the power and necessity of women as leaders in the struggle for justice and equal standing. The fourth and fifth goals are aimed at non-Muslims. One is the importance of people of all faiths looking at their own beliefs and absolutisms and how those beliefs affect justice and equality in our society. "The War for Islam" is a well-written, challenging and thought-provoking book on many levels. Like George Orwell’s "1984," "The War for Islam" is historical fiction projecting today’s cultural trends into a dystopian future, in this case controlled by the worldwide United Caliphate, which could be a natural end result if nothing intervenes to change the course of our history. Set in the East Coast of the United States, the book follows a generation for 60 years from 2090 through 2150. “Islam was the pivot point on which world history was turning in the year 2090. France was 45 percent Muslim and Belgium 95 percent, with sharia firmly established there.” Three main characters emerge. Saira Marwat, a 19-year-old Muslim woman, went from the repressive household of her father to that of an equally repressive 43-year-old husband as his number two wife. Living in Brooklyn and wearing the niqab veil with eye slits, Saira managed to win an American-style divorce. Enrolled in a Ph.D. program at the Divinity School of University of Chicago, Silas Wyatt is a 22-year-old bearded, more or less Roman Catholic Christian with a “deep-seated belief that religion of some kind is essential for human happiness.” Layla Haddad, the third character, is a fellow graduate student with Si. A Muslim woman who wears the hijab, Layla is a devoted follower of Islam, “even though she abhorred what was sometimes done in its name”. The Caliphate proclaimed by the fundamentalist Muslims claimed responsibility for frequent terrorist attacks, with heavy concentration in London and against the Hindu temples in India. To Si’s amazement, while polls showed that 85 percent of American Muslims deplored the goals of the Caliphate and while Muslims in his classes spoke out strongly against their radical brothers, none of these “good Muslims” spoke out publicly or in print against the violence. Where was the voice of moderation? "The War for Islam" is the story of these two valiant Muslim women and one Christian man, working together to defang the radical fundamentalist Caliphate and literally change the course of history. It is a story full of risks, courage and faith. It is frightening because we have seen enough terrorism to realize that the state of affairs described in the rule of the Caliphate is quite possible, as long as no one speaks out, particularly those within the Muslim faith. "The War for Islam" also challenges readers to examine their own faith traditions for divisionary absolutes. An eye-opening question was posed: “If you had been born into and were devoutly practicing a religion different from the one you actually practice today, what would be your attitude toward your present religion?” In an amazing statement, Sarai says of Islam, “The greatest failure of our religion is the belief that it is the only true religion, the only religion that pleases God. It fails to see that men and women are rewarded for their actions, not their beliefs.” The same self-examination and statement should be made by every faith tradition that claims exclusive rights to God. Silas wisely quoted Meldenius, the Swedish Lutheran theologian: “In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.” Silas’ solution was to initiate an education campaign to teach the principles and practices of the worlds’ main religions to all, not for indoctrination but so that understanding and respect thrive in a law-abiding, peace loving American democracy. "The War for Islam" would be an excellent study/text for starters! ~ Jerry Ludeke, Librarian, Newspaper The Bakersfield Californian
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. Very interesting read. It’s a topic that’s been very much everywhere for the last few years. Enjoyed this point of view and it was easy to read and well written. ~ Lisa Houston (Reviewer) , NetGalley
Shortly after reading a newspaper article about the alarming increase in suicides and opioid deaths in the U.S., one that apparently extends to many affluent people, I returned to reading Stafford Betty’s latest novel, The War for Islam. Although I rarely read fiction, I saw this book as an opportunity to learn more about the Muslim faith and hopefully better understand what is happening in the seemingly insane world that we live in today. As many readers of this blog know, Professor Betty has authored a number of books relating to spirituality and afterlife studies, including Heaven and Hell Unveiled, When Did You Ever Become Less by Dying, and The Imprisoned Splendor, all three published by White Crow Books. As a professor of religious studies at California State University, Bakersfield, he takes a somewhat unorthodox, bold, and refreshing approach in teaching his classes, including one titled The Meaning of Death. He discusses mediumship, near-death experiences, past-life studies, death-bed visions, and other psychic phenomena. It is clear from the beginning that this book is not intended to fuel the fears of those afflicted with Islamophobia; rather, Betty’s aim to instill an appreciation of the non-radical side of Islam. I resumed reading his latest book with Chapter 10, which, coincidentally, tells the story of Ethan Drayton, a prosperous CEO of a large New York City investment firm who was ready to blow his brains out after losing a son to suicide. He was further suffering from acute bursitis that affected his golf game. Ethan turned to Silas Wyatt, the protagonist in this novel set some 70-100 years in the future, for reasons not to kill himself. After persuading Ethan to put down the gun, Silas, a Christian (more-or-less Catholic) and professor of religion at New York University, took Ethan up on an offer to go sailing with him on his yacht one day. They were accompanied by Ethan’s money-loving wife, Maddy, and Silas’s future wife, Saira, a divorced Muslim woman. During the cruise, Ethan asked Saira what she got out of her religion. Before Saira could respond, Maddy jumped in and said that the impression she had was that Muslims don’t know how to have fun. After explaining that she was not a particularly “observant” Muslim, Saira said that she saw fun as a cheap form of happiness. “Islam doesn’t bring much fun,” she said, “but it can bring a lot of happiness.” Ethan asked for an explanation. “I can only speak personally,” Saira answered. “I look around me and what do I see? Every kind of addiction, drugs, alcohol, video games, texting, gambling, pornography, bad music, overeating, luxury, even sports. We look at celebrities and rich people and envy them. We think we have to have what they have or we can’t be happy. But what is their life really like? They go from one diversion to the next, and each diversion is over and done with in a day. So the next day they crave another diversion, and it’s over and done within an hour. Then what? It’s just a matter of time before the diversions give out, and then they are miserable…” She went on to explain that when we look within and find God, we don’t crave what the world has to offer. Ethan struggled to understand what Saira was saying except that it sounded like a lot of brutal inner work “It is,” Saira replied. “And that’s what makes life so great. We can never be bored if we challenge ourselves. That’s the true jihad, the war we wage within ourselves, the inner struggle. There is always something to do, something important. There is no end to ways we can make ourselves a better person. And it does require work, brutal work, as you say. But the struggle is only a lifetime. Then we go home to God and experience Eternity. And that is the mother of all lesser happinesses.” All that sounds like it could have taken place in the present day, but the earlier chapters clearly indicate that much had changed since 2019. In 2090, France had become 45% Muslim and Belgium 95%. While Muslims accounted for 19% of the American population, 50% of Michigan was Muslim and 45% of Maine. In Detroit, where sharia law was administered, a gallows was erected behind second base at Hakim Hamza Stadium, where the Tigers played, for weekly executions of drug dealers, murderers, and even thieves. As Professor Betty explains it, “execution was a spectacle that many young men preferred to NASCAR, where speeding cars driven by real humans provided the entertainment. Death was far more certain at the Double H.” Death from violence had become so common worldwide that it was no longer as terrifying as it had been decades earlier. As I read this, I visualized scenes from movies in which excited crowds watched Roman gladiators being slain or Christians being fed to the lions. While the vast majority of Muslims condemned the terrorism carried out by the Caliphate, the ultra-radical Muslims, few of them took to the streets to protest against them, at least until Silas and his classmate, Layla Haddad, a Muslim woman of Egyptian origin, organized a march in Manhattan. In his doctoral dissertation, Silas laid out the road to peace between Islam and the rest of the world. His views were based more on the hereafter that had come from psychical research rather than religion. The evidence from this research was further set forth in a book published by a small press in Great Britain (Perhaps White Crow Books?) The problem was that the research suggested that Muslims, Christians, Jews, and other were all going to experience the same kind of afterlife, no preferences being given for the religion they subscribed to while on earth. That didn’t sit well with the fundamentalists of the various religions and further upset the faculty at New York University, where Silas taught, as they were primarily secular and regarded the afterlife as the stuff of fairy tales. Nevertheless, the New York Times was impressed enough with Silas’s writings that they hired him as a syndicated columnist. Meanwhile Silas struggled to choose between his two Muslim “girlfriends,” Layla and Saira, both of whom resisted a serious relationship because of the religious conflict. While Layla and Saira were fairly liberal in their Islamic views, neither could bring herself to being married to a Christian, no matter that he had no problem accepting their religion. Seeing that Silas was able to sort the true Islam from the false Islam, Saira finally consented to marry him. She would go on to become a key figure in the peace movement aimed at defeating the Caliphate and uniting religions. When the Archbishop of New York confronted Silas on his failure to recognize Jesus as part of the Godhead, Silas explained that there is nothing so offensive to the Muslim as setting up a “partner to God.” As the Muslim sees it, it is a damnable sin. “It’s the main reason they feel they’ve got to defeat us – not work alongside us as a kindred religion – but defeat us,” Silas explained. “If we’d give up that claim, half the battle would be won. World peace might be just around the corner.” By the twenty-second century, Japan and Australia were the only major countries not significantly affected by Muslim migration and influence. In 2109, Silas had the opportunity to interview the Prime Minister of Japan. In prefacing his questions to the prime minister, he said that from what he had observed, Japan is the world’s only “First World country” – no litter, no graffiti, no potholes in the roads, no slums, no violent crime. Moreover, he could not reconcile the notion that Japan is one of the least religious countries in the world with the fact that he witnessed many people bowing reverently as they entered sacred spaces. Prime Minister Toshihiro Shima explained the three ways that his country is able to maintain such quality, one of them being an aggressive propaganda ministry. In England, the British Parliament, with non-Muslims slightly outnumbering the Muslims, proposed a law prohibiting the five daily calls to prayer, the salat, claiming that the first call, at dawn, interfered with sleep, especially among the elderly. Some claimed it was offensive to the British ear. Even though Anglicanism had been disestablished as the country’s religion in 2067, Muslims argued that it was no different from the bells ringing from Christian churches every quarter hour. After the Caliphate carried out a widespread bombing campaign, Silas and Saira attended a peace conference in London and Saira was instrumental in effecting a compromise, one that permitted the Muslim call to prayer on Friday and at the beginning and end of the holy month of Ramadan, at the same time allowing the ringing of the bells on Christmas and Easter and with a special exception for Big Ben atop Westminster Palace, which would ring in the hour, since it was more a symbol of freedom than of religion. As an independent, Silas became mayor of New York City in 2122, defeating Justin Perez, backed by many Christians, and Suleiman Ahmadi, aligned with Islam. In his campaign speech, Silas said that he would introduce legislation that would require a basic knowledge of the world’s nine largest religions as a high school graduation requirement. He appealed to the secularists by telling him that the God he believes in is not the God of orthodox religions. Following a bombing of Khadijah Center, previously known as Trump Tower and now a gathering place for New York’s Muslims, by the Caliphate, in 2125, non-Muslims realized more than ever that there are two Islams, “and that ‘the good one’ is their friend and ally against a common enemy.” Does the world survive the Caliphate, secularism, and what remains of Christian fundamentalism in 2125? Since many people prefer not to know what’s ahead, I dare not add to this review of the book beyond saying that the characters really come alive and there are surprising resolutions. The book provides profound insights into the major cultural problem of our time. ~ Michael Tymn, Blog
Well written and believable, I believe it is very of the moment in terms of fear of terrorism. Can 2 Muslim women steer their religion in the right way and in doing so save the world from the so called religious terrorists? A book about triumph over evil, fear and love. ~ Samantha Oloughlin (Reviewer), NetGalley
Really intriguing concept - believable and thought provoking. I enjoyed the development of the story and the characters. ~ Haydon Spenceley (Reviewer), NetGalley
I read the book and found it excellent, but a little over the top religiously for my taste. Of course that was necessary by the nature of the story. I think the story is good enough to make a movie. Find out how to hire a good screen writer. ~ David Keranen, retired math professor and scientist, personal correspondence
In The War for Islam, we are catapulted seventy years into the future and the dreams of establishing a caliphate are well on the way to being achieved and the evil ideology is beginning to insidiously affect more and more people. However, very few are willing to stand up against this spread of fear and hatred. Christian Silas and two brave and brilliant Muslim women decide to counter this hatred through peaceful demonstration and other non-violent means and they cross continents and countries in an effort to share their message of peace and love. The author makes some interesting and thought-provoking points about religion and theology. It is a compelling and fascinating read. I will be looking out for more from Betty in the future. ~ Lou @readers_retreat , NetGalley
It is refreshing to see two strong Muslim women centre stage as we follow their lives dedicated to achieving a peaceful outcome. Some interesting thought-provoking points are made regarding the similarities between religions, but Betty shows that it is violence in the name of religion, not religious violence which is the evil force. ~ Jill Burrows, NetGalley
There’s no doubt that I enjoyed reading this ‘what if’' novel set seventy years in the future. The radical Muslim Caliphate is taking control of most of the world and citizens are too frightened or indoctrinated to stand up against their violence. All except Silas, a Christian academic and newspaper columnist and his two brave Muslim loves, Saira and Layla. Together, they challenge the Caliphate with speeches, peaceful demonstrations and newspaper articles, as well as living a life of religious tolerance themselves. By the end of their lives they have made a difference. One or two of the references to UK jarred a bit with me, but Stafford Betty certainly has something to say to the world today. ~ jane ayres, NetGalley
“This book blends bona fide religious scholarship with cutting-edge creative writing. Stafford Betty invites us to take a more intimate look at how Islam is experienced in America from political, social and spiritual perspectives.” Terri Daniel, Death and Awareness Educator, Editor, M.A. in Theology ~ Terri Daniel, personal correspondence
Two courageous Muslim women and a nonconformist Christian are the heroes in this stirring and important novel. Stafford Betty, like Gandhi, Tutu, King, and others, reminds us that the way to a peaceful world is the way of love and compassion, but at the price of sacrificial death. ~ Tim Vivian, Professor of Religious Studies and Islam Specialist, California State University, Bakersfield
The War For Islam projects the struggle between the two sides of Islam, extremist and moderate, onto a troubled and violent world a hundred years in the future. Its heroes are two Muslim women and a Christian man struggling to free the world from a counterfeit religion intent on world domination. Written by a professor of world religions, the novel spans the globe, from Japan to Sudan, from Belgium to India, and works brilliantly at both the geopolitical and personal levels. Betty has undertaken a uniquely ambitious project. His novel raises profoundly important questions and delights the reader along the way. ~ Norman Prigge, Ph.D., retired Associate Professor of Philosophy