Title: Yuppie Muslim
Author: Abdulla A. Salaam
Publication Year: 2011
Source: Received as a gift from Zaid when I arrived in the UAE
From the cover:
The credit crunch mayhem of 2008 revealed that bankers can be bonkers and fund managers fraudulent. Priests can be molesters. It seemed that few institutions or leaders remained credible. Headlines focused on why the public cannot trust established institutions as they should be able to, forcing people to think independently. So, has the time come for us to go solo on faith? Can a yuppie (young, urban professional) Muslim be a “proper” Muslim in the twenty-first century, while still living a normal life?
The intention behind this book was good. Salaam started off well, saying:
I still believe in keeping my thoughts on our faith to myself, as well as keeping the thoughts of others out of my way of thinking when I find these do not match the true teachings of our faith. But I decided to write this book for one reason only. And that is to share my thoughts with the increasing number of people I find who think in much the same way as I do, so that we all know we are not alone.
Unfortunately, the follow-through of Yuppie Muslim was extremely lacking. For starters, the book was in serious need of an editor: there are hundreds of grammatical and punctuation mistakes (lots of which actually interfere with meaning enough to jolt you out of the reading flow), important names, phrases, and acronyms are frequently misspelled, even within one paragraph, and there is an excessive use of capital letters used on regular nouns. The author also jumps around a lot; he uses lots of subheadings, but the links between ideas are unclear and there is no real flow in the organizational structure of the book.
Salaam also mentions studies on more an one occasion without identifying the context (where the information came from or what group performed the study) until afterwards. These identifications are often important to understanding the point of the study/survey or what the possible bias in the data is, but this is left out until after he has used it to make a broad, sweeping point or, in some cases, never mentioned at all.
Finally, and probably most worrying for me when deciding whether o not to recommend a book to others, there are a few moments in Yuppie Muslim that I found categorically off-putting. The first is when he claims,
The spiritual instinct is innate – part of the nature of all human beings. Even people who are not particularly religiously inclined, if they think deeply, usually end up believing in the existence of a single Creator on whom everything that exists is dependent.
The emphasis in the above quote is my own, and is the part that I find the most troubling. I dislike when people basically imply that Atheists just haven’t thought deeply enough, or that anyone who doesn’t believe in God will eventually come around. I find it infantilizing and insulting, and coming across it in this book shocked me when I was reading it.
The other moment,if you can call it that, is the inclusion of the last chapter of the book. It is a chapter explicitly about “black magic and witchcraft”, and essentially implies in its wording that this is widespread in the West and something that Muslims should be wary of.i don’t think I need to explain to you why I find this section disturbing.
All in all, I can see that Salaam was trying to do something good with Yuppie Muslim, but the end result just doesn’t cut it. Don’t waste your time.
You can find other posts in the series by clicking on the image to the right, or by taking a look at the schedule of posts and reviews.