When most of us think of Muslims, we think of women in black covered with veils, or of terrorists, or of persecution of Christians, but what do they think of when they think of Westerners? Christine A Mallouhi takes us into the Muslim mind and culture in Miniskirts, Mothers & Muslims. A Christian from Australia, Mallouhi is married to an Arab Christian, has lived among Muslims in several countries for thirty years, and has Muslim in-laws. She is also the author of Waging Peace on Islam.
Abuna Elias Chacour, the Bishop-elect of Jerusalem, Melkite church, and author of Blood Brothers, writes the foreword.
Mallouhi introduces us to an Arab culture built on honor and shame, concepts that a pre-World War II West also shared to some extent. She points out both the excellences and weaknesses of Arab cultures and takes some well-deserved pokes at the West, as well as a few less well-deserved. For instance, an Arab, whether Christian or Muslim, would not think of setting his holy book on the floor; instead it would occupy a place of honor in the room. In the West we do not honor the Bible as highly as some Muslims would. I've seen some teenagers sit with their feet on their Bibles.
Honor, hospitality and loyalty are important to the Arab mind. Less clock-oriented than Westerners, an Arab would prefer to be late to an important meeting than to bypass a neighbor or friend in need. Arab society is built on relationships, established status in society, and mutual favors, whereas we in the West value independence over interdependence.
Mallouhi's goal is to help "Christians…live honourably among Muslims for Christ's sake." (13) Her intimate look at the Muslim mind and lifestyle enlightens us on why so much missionary activity has accomplished relatively little. Hindered by stereotypes of Christians and Western culture, they see us as cold, unloving, disloyal, selfish, unkempt, improper in our behavior, and immoral. They mistakenly believe that Hollywood represents decadent Christian culture.
The author’s insights explain some reasons for Arab beliefs that I've not encountered anywhere else. For instance, she explains that the reason Muslims reject the historical death of Christ is that it would be disloyal and not honorable of God. It is an effort to honor God. Another example of her insight explains why missionary and humanitarian aid among the poor is suspect in the stratified Muslim society: helping someone places obligation on the recipient. That obligation may influence the less educated to convert without full understanding.
Readers will find Mallouhi's insights, warm tone, and fascinating anecdotes hard to put down. This is one of the most absorbing and readable books on Islam that I have found. It should be required reading for anyone doing mission work among Muslims, but it would also be helpful in other honor based societies, such as Hindu cultures. -- Debbie W. Wilson, Christian Book Previews.com
This observant, witty book reveals the conventions that govern Muslim society--and charts the unwitting mistakes Westerners can make when meeting Muslims.
"This book is for Christians venturing among Muslims," explains Christine Mallouhi. "It assuems that Christians will want to live honourable among Muslims for Christ's sake, and expores what that means...I am the Western wife of an Arab from a conservative Muslim family. My stories are from the shadow side of Muslim culture, which is invisible to most Westerner."
Her themes include status, the place of women, the veil, stereotypes, segregation and restrictions, family life, and hospitality and witness.