Surrendering to God: Understanding Islam in the Modern Age
by Dr. Eren Tatari (Tughra Publications, 2012)
The word Muslim is commonly used like a brand name: One is either Muslim or not. In this book, Tatari expounds on the literal meaning of being a muslim, which is the verbal noun submitter. She explains that we are a submitter (muslim) if and when we submit our mind, heart, and actions to God’s Will. From this perspective, this book appeals not only to those who profess a Muslim identity, but to all who strive to find answers to their existential questions and submit to their Creator.
- “First off, you don’t have to be a Muslim to appreciate this book… it’s written for universal audience. This book explains brilliantly how we ignore appreciating The Creator for the simplest of things and one phrase which really struck me very early in the book: “for an apple to come into existence, the whole universe has to exist”. I can go on and on how much I enjoyed reading this book and how it’s helping me be more humble and appreciative towards Our Creator and His creation.”
- “Since I’m not Muslim, I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. I found that while I did learn more about Islam from reading the book, it also inspired me as a Christian to get to know God better and try to “submit” to His will for my life. I think anyone who is trying to grow closer to God and reflect on what is truly important in life will find this book inspiring.”
- “This is a very unusual book. It does not take anything for granted but deconstructs and questions all claims. I felt that it is very honest in dealing with human emotions and doubts. It can belong to the self-help genre. It addresses the basic existential questions we have. They torment us when they remain unanswered. For those of us who left our life to the current of daily activities and feel like drowning without any meaning, it might be an opportunity to pause and reset.”
- “This book brings a personal and fresh view at Islam as a way of life that is practiced in daily life. It deals with theoretical concepts yet is extremely practical. It gives a new perspective to life; Islam that is lived rather than just read. The arguments and explanations made perfect sense. I strongly recommend this book for any person interested in the concept of surrendering to God.”
The Fountain, Issue 93 / May – June 2013
Surrendering to God: Understanding Islam in the Modern Age Eren Tatari Tughra Publications, 2012
In this post-9/11 world, the word “Muslim” conjures up many images and has many connotations. Real knowledge or understanding of Islam and Muslims however, is few and far between. In her book Surrendering to God, Dr. Tatari starts by expounding on the literal meaning of what it means to be a muslim, which we find is the verbal noun “submitter.” She explains that a person is a submitter (muslim) if and when he or she submits their mind, heart, and actions to the Will of God. From this perspective, the book not only appeals to those who profess a Muslim identity, but to everyone who strive to find answers to their existential questions and submit to their Creator. The book addresses the basic existential questions that torment us when they remain unanswered. For those who are swept amidst the chores of life and feel they are about to drown without meaning, the book gives them the opportunity to pause and reset. This book helps bridge the divide between what we know as Islam and what really is Islam. As a Christian, I found the overlap in the principles of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism comforting in an era when there is all too much emphasis on our differences.
Surrendering to God is not a how-to, nor is it an academic text. Instead, it is an occasionally biographical account of one woman’s journey deeper into her religion that manages to address the larger points of what being a follower of Islam means. Tatari is clear in emphasizing that this is her account, and should not be seen as the definitive guide. She also emphasizes that the relationship one fosters with their Creator is a personal one, that “Faith is a personal matter between a believer and her Creator.”
While very grounded, Surrendering to God frequently makes reference to beautiful passages that illustrate the beauty the author finds in her devotion. One example is when she states: “In Islam, human beings are not deemed to be intrinsically evil. We have the potential to be higher than angels or lower than animals.”
Dr. Tatari makes an important point that religion and science are not incompatible, and that questioning one’s religion is not a sin: “I have learned that this natural … questioning is a gift of God to find Him and that in numerous Qur’anic verses He urges us to question everything.” This is important because all too often to express curiosity, to question, and yes, to occasionally doubt is seen as the currency of the faithless or the “doubters” when in reality it is often the means of getting closer to God. This book opens a fresh and insightful window into Islam as a practical lifestyle and way of life. Although it deals with theoretical concepts, it is wholly practical. It sheds light on Islam as a religion that is lived rather than just read. While perhaps intended for Muslims (or muslims, as I have learned from the book that there is a distinction), this book makes great reading for those early on in their relationship with Islam, and for those who are just generally curious about Islam and what it means to be a muslim. Surrendering to God is a thought-provoking read, no matter what one’s background is. This book will be inspiring to anyone who is trying to grow closer to God and reflect on what is truly important in life.
Dr. Rayna Flye is Research and Evaluation Specialist at Beaverton School District in Oregon.