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The Faith Club: A Muslim, a Christian, a Jew--Three Women Search for Understanding
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The Faith Club: A Muslim, a Christian, a Jew--Three Women Search for Understanding

4.1 52
by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, Priscilla Warner

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A groundbreaking book about Americans searching for faith and mutual respect, The Faith Club weaves the story of three women, their three religions, and their urgent quest to understand one another.

When an American Muslim woman befriends two other mothers, one Jewish and one Christian, they decide to educate their children about their respective religions. None


A groundbreaking book about Americans searching for faith and mutual respect, The Faith Club weaves the story of three women, their three religions, and their urgent quest to understand one another.

When an American Muslim woman befriends two other mothers, one Jewish and one Christian, they decide to educate their children about their respective religions. None of them guessed their regular meetings would provide life-changing answers and form bonds that would forever alter their struggles with prejudice, fear, and anger. Personal, powerful, and compelling, The Faith Club forces readers to face the tough questions about their own religions.

Pioneering, timely, deeply thoughtful, and full of hope, The Faith Club’s caring message will resonate with people of all faiths.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Millions of Americans crave a way to have interfaith conversation but have no idea where to begin. This book is a great place to start. The authors have set a path that many more will want to follow." — Bruce Feiler, author of Walking the Bible and Where God Was Born

"More Fight Club than book club, the coauthors pull no punches; their outstanding honesty makes for a page-turning read, rare for a religion nonfiction book...almost every taboo topic is explored on this engaging spiritual ride." — Publishers Weekly

At first, it seemed like a good idea. In the wake of September 11, 2001, American Muslim Ranya Idliby contacted a Christian woman (Suzanne Oliver) and a Jewish woman (Priscilla Warner), proposing that the three of them write a children's book on the commonalities of these major religious traditions. Almost from the start, their "faith club" meetings devolved into wrangling; as one reviewer put it, "more Fight Club than book club." The three women argued with each other and also with themselves; even faith itself was brought into question. Through sheer stubbornness, the women continued their sessions, candidly tackling their own and each other's stereotypes, misconceptions, and deep beliefs. The Faith Club stands as a monument to their persistence, a testament to their faiths, and evidence of the difficulties that lay ahead.
Naomi Harris Rosenblatt
The dialogue among the three friends comes across as genuine and thoughtful. They try valiantly to be frank with one another, which becomes easier as they learn to trust one another's motives and to respect each other's integrity…The conversations recorded in this book engage our attention as the women search out spiritual values common to all the three faiths and learn more about their own in the process.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
In the wake of 9/11, Idliby, an American Muslim of Palestinian descent, sought out fellow mothers of the Jewish and Christian faiths to write a children's book on the commonalities among their respective traditions. In their first meeting, however, the women realized they would have to address their differences first. Oliver, an Episcopalian who was raised Catholic, irked Warner, a Jewish woman and children's author, with her description of the Crucifixion story, which sounded too much like "Jews killed Jesus" for Warner's taste. Idliby's efforts to join in on the usual "Judeo-Christian" debate tap into a sense of alienation she already feels in the larger Muslim community, where she is unable to find a progressive mosque that reflects her non-veil-wearing, spiritual Islam. The ladies come to call their group a "faith club" and, over time, midwife each other into stronger belief in their own respective religions. More Fight Club than book club, the coauthors pull no punches; their outstanding honesty makes for a page-turning read, rare for a religion nonfiction book. From Idliby's graphic defense of the Palestinian cause, Oliver's vacillations between faith and doubt, and Warner's struggles to acknowledge God's existence, almost every taboo topic is explored on this engaging spiritual ride. (Oct. 3) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
In writing a children's book highlighting the commonalities among the Abrahamic religions, Idliby, an American Muslim of Palestinian descent, sought Christian and Jewish collaborators. She was joined by Episcopalian-turned-Catholic Suzanne Oliver and Jewish children's book writer Warner, who both came to realize they needed to deal with their own questions, stereotypes, and concerns before starting the book. After several meetings, the trio's relationship and project seemed in jeopardy, but they painstakingly worked through their differences, accompanying one another at significant times to each of their places of worship, reading one another's Scripture, and supporting one another's doubts and fears. In the process, the women developed a strong bond that strengthened the way each practiced her own religion and moved them all toward deeper commitment to interfaith dialog, to justice, and to one another. This book, which concludes with suggestions to readers for forming their own Faith Club and includes sample questions for thought, is a documentation of Idliby, Oliver, and Warner's discussions, debates, and reflections. The world needs this book or others very similar! Highly recommended for all libraries.-Carolyn M. Craft, formerly with Longwood Univ., Farmville, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Three mothers' engaging account of their interfaith dialogue. At first glance, the authors don't seem to have much in common. Idliby is a Muslim of Palestinian descent; Warner is a Reform Jew; Oliver grew up Catholic but was drawn to the more liberal Episcopal Church as an adult. Beneath those differences lie some important similarities: All three are mothers who want to teach their children religious tolerance, and each places great stock in her religious identity. In order to learn about the religious traditions of their neighbors, the authors came together to form a "faith club," meeting regularly to discuss prayer and ritual, their beliefs about God and the relationship between spirituality and social justice. They never shy away from potentially explosive topics, such as the way that Christian descriptions of Jesus' crucifixion have been used to provoke anti-Jewish violence, or the question of whether people can criticize Israeli policy without being accused of anti-Semitism. Over time, the women's religious commitments evolved: Idliby, who had felt spiritually homeless, found a community of like-minded progressive American Muslims; Oliver began to question some of her commitments to classic Christian doctrine; and Warner became more comfortable praying to and talking about God. The three charming narrators transform potentially dry theological discourses into personal, intimate heart-to-hearts. For readers who wish they could pull up a chair and join Idliby, Oliver and Warner in their chats, the concluding chapter explains how to form your own faith club. The only weakness here is that all three authors represent decidedly liberal expressions of their religions. The conversationswould have been even more interesting, albeit considerably more fraught, had they included an evangelical Christian or an Orthodox Jew or a Muslim woman who wears hijab. An invitation to discussion that's hard to turn down-and a natural for book groups.

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Atria Books
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5.50(w) x 8.43(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt


Meet the Faith Club. We're three mothers from three faiths — Islam, Christianity, and Judaism — who got together to write a picture book for our children that would highlight the connections between our religions. But no sooner had we started talking about our beliefs and how to explain them to our children than our differences led to misunderstandings. Our project nearly fell apart.

We realized that before we could talk about what united us we had to confront what divided us in matters of faith, God, and religion. We had to reveal our own worst fears, prejudices, and stereotypes.

So we made a commitment to meet regularly. We talked in our living rooms over cups of jasmine tea and bars of dark chocolate. No question was deemed inappropriate, no matter how rude or politically incorrect. We taped our conversations and kept journals as we discussed everything from jihad to Jesus, heaven to holy texts. Somewhere along the way, our moments of conflict, frustration, and anger gave way to new understanding and great respect.

Now we invite you into our Faith Club to eavesdrop on our conversations. Come into our living rooms and share our life-altering experience. Perhaps when you're finished, you will want to have a faith club of your own.

Copyright © 2006 by Ranya Idliby, Suzanne Oliver, and Priscilla Warner

Meet the Author

Ranya Idliby was raised in Dubai and McLean, Virginia. She holds a bachelor of science from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service, and earned her MS in international relations from the London School of Economics. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

Suzanne Oliver was raised in Kansas City, Missouri, and has worked as a writer and editor at Forbes and Financial World magazines. She graduated from Texas Christian University and lives in New York City and Jaffrey Center, New Hampshire, with her husband and three children.

Priscilla Warner grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, and spent many years in Boston and New York as an advertising art director, shooting ads for everything from English muffins to diamond earrings. Priscilla co-authored The New York Times bestselling memoir The Faith Club, then toured the country for three years, hyperventilating her way through an extended book tour. Finally, in the skies over Oklahoma, she vowed to find her inner monk, and began meditating her way from panic to peace.

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The Faith Club: A Muslim, a Christian, a Jew--Three Women Search for Understanding 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 52 reviews.
S_Mama More than 1 year ago
While each of the authors are religious and identify with a certain faith (Christianity, Judaism, and Islam), not one was active in their faith. They may have gone to church or the mosque but it didn't seem like any was actually involved in a relationship with their God. I was expecting to hear about their personal relationships and walks with God, but all I heard was traditions. This should be called "Religion Club" not "Faith Club." All it did was irritate me that I could have read a book on each individual religion and experience the same knowledge.
raniaA More than 1 year ago
As an American Muslim who's name is also Ranya, I was intrigued at the idea of this book. But not even 1/2 way into it, I could no longer continue. Ranya Idliby needs to get her facts straight. She flat out misquoted the Quran, gave incorrect facts and was very weak/shallow in her religion. I am not that religious, I dont wear a head scarf or anything but even I was outraged. I know several Jewish women who also hated this book saying Pricilla was very sterotyped and a horrible portrayal of a Jewish woman. DONT WASTE YOUR MONEY! Just talk to your friend's to get the inside scoop on different cultures/religions...you'll learn more that way!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Where is the 'faith' in the faith club? Disappointing from a 'religious' stand point. Interesting women, kind women, caring women -- but none of them except for Ranya have any idea on what it means to have 'faith' in their religion. Most disappointing is the Christian author - what a sell out - she folded to the others thoughts and ideas and didn't stand on her own two feet on what Christianity is all about. Very disappointing. I was left feeling cheated at the end..I thought each would strongly stand for what they believed instead of the 'new age' feeling I came away with.
Aprilsongs7 More than 1 year ago
I was asked to read this and lead a bookclub at my church. At first I was put off by the oversensitivity and whining of the main characters, but as the book progresses, they begin to confront their assumptions, challenge themselves and each other, and grow as friends and human beings. Lots of new information about each religion is included, which serve to educate the reader as well, as we begin to question our own stereotypes around people of other faiths. I felt I had important insights about the point of view of someone from another experience than my own, and I grew fond of these brave, tenacious women, who wouldn't stop trying to find common ground or come to a place of respect and appreciation for each other's beliefs! I love the way the book is organized, alternating transcripts of recordings from their actual meetings in real time, with look-back commentary from three perspectives. A quick and easy read, and made for a very lively discussion at the book club. If EVERYBODY read this, there would be a lot more harmony between neighbors of differing faiths, and a lot less misinformation circulating! And there are ample materials included to help readers who wish to follow their lead and form their own Faith Club discussion groups. Well worth the time and effort.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was really looking forward to reading this. It seemed so promising. However, I need to clear something up. Judaism DOES believe in the afterlife. We call it the World to Come, and it will happen when the Messiah comes. I was upset that such incorrect information was allowed to be included in this book. I did learn a lot about Islam, which was positive, but towards the end, I felt like the book took a more political stance, rather than a spiritual or religious one. I'd love to be able to contact Priscilla and talk over Judaism issues. I don't really want to recommend this book, due to its misinformation concerning Judaism.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was so thrilled with the idea of this book, I waited and waited for it to come out so that I could read it.I love the idea and get the point, but I already know bible stories. I wanted to hear passion and read a great story of faith. This was bible stories and he said she said stuff. I was very sad, I quit half way through the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I¿d like to recommend to you a book I¿ve just read. The Faith Club arose out of the rubble of 9-11, as three young mothers living in New York City ¿ a Muslim, a Christian, and a Jew ¿ agreed to meet together to discuss their differing faiths and how they might learn to live together in peace. They could not have imagined what was in store for them. At a minimum, it meant hours of gut-wrenching, painful, honest self-disclosure, as they explained to each other, as best they could, what they believed and why, and as they challenged each other with the obvious ambiguities and inconsistencies of their different faith perspectives. It also meant a lot of personal growth as, through the process of interfaith dialogue ¿ and we¿re talking about a period of over two years here ¿ the women grappled with what they really believed, as opposed to what they had always been taught ¿ and as they seriously considered the faith and understanding of each other. No holds were barred. They talked openly and honestly about everything you can imagine: The Christian understanding of Jesus¿ crucifixion and whether or not the Jews were to blame the Jewish claim to a Promised Land and what that meant for Palestinians the suspicion that all Muslims are terrorists-in-waiting, versus the fact that the majority of Muslims are as peace-loving as everyone else. Out of their dialogue, the women came to appreciate and accept each other as individuals who share a common humanity and a common quest for peace, albeit from different faith perspectives. More than that, they came to love each other, and that love helped them bridge the gap between their different religious traditions. What I appreciated most about The Faith Club is its raw, often brutal, honesty. Here are three women who are willing to let you in on their often down and dirty efforts to come to grips with each other. What I found myself struggling with was the often simplistic way in which the women were able to resolve fundamental differences of religion by stressing such commonalities as their love of God, generally, while, for example, ignoring the critical issues of such Christian beliefs as the Incarnation and the Atonement. But, to be fair, the authors never claim to be theologians, and that may be the most compelling reason to read the book: It doesn¿t seek to answer all your questions about Islam, Judaism or Christianity, and it doesn¿t pretend to offer a panacea about how our differences can be resolved rather, it offers a first-hand look at how three women from these differing religious perspectives found, through the process of interfaith dialogue, a better understanding of themselves and each other, and how people of differing faiths can live in peace and harmony in love with each other. I recommend the book highly. Whether, in the end, you agree or disagree with their conclusions, you¿ll be enriched by their journey of faith.
Penelope_Lefebre More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. As a Jewish woman I am constantly questioning my beliefs and my faith. This book helped me do some soul searching and understand things a bit more. I honestly couldn't put it down because I wanted to read the next discussion! While not all of the book was awe-inspiring, as no books are, if you start reading with an open mind you will get something out of it. My suggestion: read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are secure enough in your own faith in God, and open minded enough to believe your own religion isn't the center of the universe, and that all religions are equal paths to God - then you'll enjoy this book.
Bookworm82CL More than 1 year ago
If you have trouble sleeping at night, just pick up this book, you will be out in no time! I loathed this book. There is no story line, there is nothing to make you want to read this book. It is 300 pages of three women talking on and on and on. The three women came from three different religions, but none of them had any kind of faith in their religions and they had no idea what they were talking about. The Jewish woman did not know if she even believed in God and the Christian woman wanted to be on both sides of the fence sort of speek, she wanted a God but when it was convenient for her. The Muslum woman did not know what she believed. I was so disappointed because at the end, the Christian woman decided that she "hopes there is a God." (You have got to be kidding) And then turns into a Universalist. She was more worried about offending the other two women, than she was about practicing Christanity. She was a Fraud! Do not bother with this book. Spend your time and money on something else worth reading.
Shirley_Holmes More than 1 year ago
When I first saw this book, I was immediately sold. I picked it and refused to leave without it. I love learning about religions and I was intrigued by the idea of the three monotheistic religions coming together and trying to understand each other. From beginning to end, I was hooked. I would read a chapter and stop for a day or two to really get the full impact of it. These women were incredibly brave and through their quest to find similarities, they found that they grew individually in their own faiths as well as growing together and embracing all three. It truly is an inspirational read and I recommend to every one who has ever had a small inkling of interest in these three religions.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book does more than put a band-aid on the uneasy co-existence of the three Abrahamic faiths in America and over the world. The authors here confront stereotypes about their own and each others' faiths, and they don't pull any punches. The Jewish woman, Priscilla, confronts Christian Suzanne, challenging her claim that she'd never heard Jews being blamed for Christ's death. But that's nothing compared to the discussion that emerges when the Israel-Palestine situation comes up. I strongly recommend this book for Americans who simplistically wonder 'Why don't the Arabs just take care of the Palestinian problem?' The Muslim, Ranya, whose parents lost their ancestral home when Israel came into being, offers the little-heard (in this country) story of Palestinian dispossession. She is quite clear in her condemnation of Muslim extremists, and it is wonderful to read how she has become an important figure in uniting the American Muslim community, which is overwhelmingly moderate, and represents a sort of diaspora from around the world. I learned that most Muslims in the world aren't even Arabs, many do not wear head dress, and that the faith itself is much closer to my personal beliefs (raised Catholic, married to a Jew) than I would have guessed. Ich bin ein Muslim -- who knew? While, unlike Suzanne, I had a thorough education in the horror Christians have inflicted on Jews, I was taught next to nothing about Muslims -- just the oft-repeated story about the thousand virgins who are the reward for those who self-annhiliate in the name of Allah. Americans need to have this, and the many other negative stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims, corrected. The authors encourage readers to begin their own faith clubs -- I'd like to see the discussions expanded to include Mormons, Buddhists, Hindus, etc. America ought to be a leader in easing the tensions between the various faiths, as we often have. In Northern Ireland the Catholics and Protestants are still fighting -- that argument and those prejudices sunk here long ago. We need to follow our own example today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It depends on why you're reading the book.  I learned something about liberal Muslim , Jewish and Christian beliefs and thought and about Palestinian history from it.  For accuracy and truth about Christianity, however, which I'm well versed about, it is considerably off the mark.  When Jesus asked  Peter, "who do you say I am?"  , Peter replied, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God."   Jesus said he would build His church upon that confession (not upon Peter).   That is still a core belief of the Christian faith.   .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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booksaregood More than 1 year ago
What I thought was the premise of the book wasn't exactly what the reader gets. You learn quickly that the women are well off. They seem to be very self-absorbed. They don't always leave room for anyone else to have an opinion that is different from theirs. When asking my pastor some questions about parts of the book, he wasn't quite as liberal as they seemed to want the reader to be. Still not sure what they tried to children in the book they wanted to write.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
DO NOT READ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Awful book!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a must read! This will either change your way of thinking about different people or you are to cold hearted to care. We all share a common element...we are human!
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