Letters to Dr. Abou El Fadl: A wedge keeping the door of Islam open for me, 2.8.04

Dear Dr. Abou El Fadl,

I recently finished Conference of the Books and wanted to thank you for your inspiring work. I can only imagine how difficult it must be for you as a progressive Muslim scholar in the 21st Century. I thank God that you have the courage to keep the intellectual fires burning in a dark age. For many years, I have been drawn to the Quran, the Sunnah of the Prophet and the legacy of early Islam. At the same time, I have been repulsed by the modern ugliness you describe so well in your book. I often despair for the state of the Muslim world. When I read your work, I feel there may be some room for hope -- perhaps even some room in Islam for people like me, who feel the truth of the Prophet's message, but cannot accept that embracing a religion would mean surrendering our intellects at the door of the mosque. Honestly, I'm not sure I will ever find the courage to visit an American mosque or even be open about my faith, but I fasted my first Ramadan this year. I took Shahada in my heart and have kept up daily prayers. As I approach age forty, it is frightening to be starting such a journey, especially considering my thoroughly Western upbringing, but then I consider that the Prophet received revelation at this age, and he too was frightened. With God's help, anything is possible. I just wanted you to know that your writing has been a wedge keeping the door of Islam open for me, despite the enormous pressure of ugliness and intolerance, and for that I thank you.

Sincerely, [Name withheld by request]

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