Uniting in friendship

Just Your Average Muslim | Book | Zia Chaudhry

Review by Larry Marshall just your average muslim book cover

Zia Chaudhry’s family migrated to England from Pakistan and he grew up in Liverpool. He is a practising lawyer who has become increasingly involved in interfaith dialogue in the past decade.

This book seeks to speak for the silent majority of ‘average’ Muslims in the West who live and work and suffer in silence while extremists urge violence and the media often enjoins a battle against the dangers of ‘Islam’ in our midst.

Choudhry is a man of deep faith and learning who wants to protest the actions of those who bring shame on his religion. But he is also angry at the ugly vitriol so often aimed at Muslims en masse (1.5 billion people) and the puerile debate about this unacceptable violence and the harm that does to interfaith relations in our established multicultural communities.

He calls out to his fellow Muslims to become part of the solution by helping to fix the social cracks that are appearing everywhere. “As a matter of urgency, we need to identify areas for mutual cooperation.”

History, the author reminds us, has many important reminders of mutual cooperation and respect that has existed between the three monotheistic faiths. He cites as evidence Cordoba in Spain in the Golden Age of Islam where Jews, Muslims and Christians lived in harmony.

Chaudhry bravely sets out to encourage the silent Muslims to engage in an informed debate about the need for reform in Islam, so it can be rescued from interpretations by just the ‘bearded guys’. He argues that Islam can reconnect with its moral essence and be relevant again in this modern world. Chaudhry asserts that the Quran exhorts the reader to investigate the world with a spirit of inquiry and arrive at a reasoned belief rather than relying on ‘blind faith’.

Building a society based on respect and shared values is at the basis of Chaudhry’s interfaith work. He cites as one of his highlights being asked by Christian friends to become a godfather to baby Jemima. And so, from the personal to the political he asserts: “There is no reason why we cannot help create strong, compassionate, unified, yet diverse communities by working together.”

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