Wednesday, November 20, 2013

LDS BOOK REVIEW: My Name Used to Be Muhammad by Tito Momen with Jeff Benedict


Tito Momen was raised Muhammad Momen. Born in Nigeria, he was taught to observe the strict teachings of Islam.
Beginning at age five, he woke at 4:45 every morning to attend the mosque and perform dawn prayer with the other men in his village. At age six, he began memorizing the Qur'an by copying the entire book word for word. He was preparing to become a cleric capable of leading a jihad, or holy struggle, to convert nonbelievers to Islam.
But Tito's path took an unexpected turn when he was introduced to Christianity. His decision to believe in Jesus Christ cost him his family and his freedom. Sentenced to prison, Tito expected to spend his remaining days enduring a life sentence in an uncivilized Egyptian prison. For fifteen years, he suffered and waited and prayed. "I never gave up hope," Tito says. "I never stopped believing."
Although he was falsely imprisoned, beaten, and ridiculed, Tito's remarkable true story is one of faith and forgiveness, as well as a witness that God does hear and answer prayers.
Jeff Benedict is the author of eleven critically acclaimed books, including Little Pink House, The Mormon Way of Doing Business, and Without Reservation. His articles have been published in Sports Illustrated, the New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times, and he appears as an expert on network news and cable television programs. A frequent public speaker, Mr. Benedict teaches writing at Southern Virginia University.
A powerful story about a man who grew up Muslim yet eventually becomes a Christian. But he pays a high price for doing so, he is completely disowned by his family, he loses the woman he loves, and he's thrown in an Egyptian prison for 15 years. The book is a fascinating and heart-wrenching account of the suffering inflicted by religious extremism. It's sad to read about how instead of using faith to encourage obedience, all too many of those Tito is surrounded by use fear and intimidation and violence. It's not too surprising to read about Momen's trip back to Nigeria only to discover that many of those he once new had joined Al Qaeda. After reading about Momen's struggles both internal and external, I truly have a greater appreciation for the freedoms available, here in the United States. Despite the suffering that Momen undergoes the book remains hopeful and there are plenty of examples of God watching out for him even under the most horrendous circumstances. A heart-wrenching but ultimately hopeful read.

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