Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Book Review of The Perfect Gentleman by Imran Ahmad

This morning, I finished listening to the audiobook for The Perfect Gentleman: A Muslim Boy Meets the West, a loose-leaf biography of sorts written and narrated by Imran Ahmad.

I first noticed the book sometime last year because of the adorable front cover of a little, Middle Eastern boy in a perfect, little western suit, staring solemnly off of a burnt orange cover. And the back jacket description seemed just as charming, as did the first few pages.

Admittedly, I was a bit worried that it would get preachy. But I was determined to purchase it out of sheer curiosity, and so I did. Only not until much later and on audiobook. I also had to first finish listening to that piece of boring, pretentious trash, Atlas Shrugged.

After the 1,000- plus-page prattling of Atlas Shrugged, almost anything is a treat. But I think I would have overall enjoyed The Perfect Gentleman regardless of what preceded it on my playlist. It was a fascinating look into British life from the 1960s onward; an intriguing insight into liberal, Muslim thinking; and an entertaining perspective of what being male can be like.

As an American, Christian female, I welcomed Ahmad’s honest musings about everything and anything. Until the last chapter, that was, which found him in his fifties and eschewing not only Islam but also Christianity (which he constantly mused about and even longed for)… for universalism: the belief that everyone needs to find their own truth.

In other words, real truth doesn’t exist.

I’m sorry, but I can’t respect that conclusion. Nor did I appreciate the sudden attitude switch in telling people how he saw things. I even got annoyed with him when he prattled on about how much he admired America. Why? Because he’d somehow turned into a pompous snot, which is never attractive regardless of your beliefs.

But beyond disliking Ahmad’s final mindset, I also finished The Perfect Gentleman feeling sad.

Here was this young man who was so certain of his original beliefs and then so curious about another set of beliefs, who eventually threw both aside in favor of basically believing in nothing.

How did that happen? How does anyone become so disillusioned with the pursuit of truth that they decide to do away with truth altogether?

I don’t understand, and I’m not going to pretend to have some amazing conclusion to any of these musings. At least not so soon after finishing the book.

All I know is that there is a truth out there, and it’s a tragic day when we decide otherwise.

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