Duane Miller reviews Khalad Hussain’s ‘Against the Grain’

April 11, 2015

This review essay, published in Mary’s Well Occasional Papersreviews and reflects on Hussain’s 2012 book Against the Grain, which contains his conversion narrative wherein he functions practically as a translator between the world of secular-Christian Britain and Muslim Pakistan.

Here are the opening paragraphs:

In the past ten years there has been a significant increase in the number of conversion narratives from Islam to Christianity (and vice versa).[1] In this volume, Kashmiri convert Khalad Hussain makes his own contribution to this growing body of literature. My own doctoral work[2] through the University of Edinburgh lead me to delve deeply into the literature of converts from Islam to Christianity. This included an analytical article on Saiid Rabiipour’s Farewell to Islam (2009), published as ‘”It is okay to question Allah”: the theology of freedomof Saiid Rabiipour, a Christian ex-Muslims.’[3] As with most articles I publish I shared this on my professional blog,[4] and it was by this means that Mr. Hussain contacted me and asked me if I would be interested in reviewing his own autobiography.

The book begins with a depiction of the bucolic life led by his family in his hometown in the Mirpur region of Pakistani Kashmir. We are told about everything from schooling to agriculture to gender relations. Many native terms and words are shared with the readers in this section (and throughout the whole book). The author takes pain to translate customs and practices for the Western portion of his audience. The author also presents us with a number of questions about Islam that occurred to him (in retrospect, at least). For example, how could it be ethical that the Sikhs and Hindus were forced out of Pakistan at the time of independence? (p. 20) Why were women inferior to men? (p.  32)

Click HERE to download the review essay.

Key Words: religious conversion, Kashmir, Pakistan, autobiography, ex-Muslim, Pakistani diaspora

[1] For instance David Nasser’s Jumping through Fires (Baker, 2009), The Imam’s Daughter by Hannah Shah (Zondervan, 2012), I was a Minister in the Nation of Islam by Alexis Johnson (Winepress, 2009), Son of Hamas by Mosab Yousef (Tyndale, 2011) and Farewell to Islam by Saiid Rabiipour (Xulon, 2009).

[2] The doctoral thesis is Living among the Breakage: ContextualTheology-making and ex-Muslim Christians (2014). A link to the PDF can be found at nazsem.blogspot.com/2014/02/doctoral-thesis-of-duane-alexander.html(accessed 16 July 2014).

[3] In Mary’s Well Occasional Papers 1(4), 1-13.www.nazarethseminary.org/datadir/en-events/ev91/files/MWOP_Miller_Duane_on_Saiid_Rabiipour.pdf. (Accessed 16 July 2014).

[4] Duanemiller.wordpress.com. Other book reviews by this author can be found there and at his academia.edu page.

Publication: An Exploration of Christ’s Converts from Islam

February 24, 2015

I recently published this article in the Journal of Asian Mission (Vol 15:2, October 2014). Here is the abstract:

Multiple studies exist on why some Muslims convert to Christianity. This article will summarize the findings of these studies and evaluate their strengths and weaknesses. The article ends by suggesting some modifications to possible reasons or categories for better understanding the reasons given by Muslims converting to Christ.

Check it out at at my academia page.

The full title is “An Exploration of Christ’s Converts from Islam: Reasons Given for their Conversions”.

Lecture: What kind of book is the Bible?

January 28, 2015

Hello students for SMC 1314 L,

I apologize for the delay in providing this link for you, but now you can download or listen to the audio file for the Thursday lecture which we did not have because of the Marianist Heritage Mass. Here is the link:

What kind of book is the Bible?

If you have any questions let me know. Also, do make sure you have a Bible so you can follow along with the readings which you may not be able to hear well in the recording.

How I Met my Viva: Water pipe and ethnography in Cana of Galilee

January 21, 2015

I recently received an e-mail for Edinburgh humanities alumni asking for authors for posts on this new series: How I Met my Viva. For American readers, the viva is the defense of the doctoral thesis (or dissertation, as it is called in the USA). It is the time where you make it or break it. I remember when one friend of mine, whom I regard as a superior scholar frankly, failed his viva.

Here is how the blog post starts, which is based on my own experience:

I had submitted my thesis to the university some months ago, but they were having a hard time finding someone who knew about converts from Islam to Christianity to be my external examiner. At the time I was living in Nazareth, which is the largest Arab city in Israel, teaching at a local seminary. After some delay my viva had been scheduled, and I decided to pick the brain of my colleague Phil Sumpter, who had recently received his PhD in Old Testament from a university in Wales. I had, of course, asked several of my friends at Edinburgh about vivas, but that was early on in my doctoral research when actually preparing for my own viva was a remote concern. I had heard horror stories—the guy who had failed and then failed again his PhD [defense], leaving the uni with student loans but no degree. I also had friends who passed with flying colors. But then there was the murky middle area, a friend who was given major corrections, which included reordering his chapters, and another one who was instructed to adopt a different theoretical framework.

Read the rest of the post at No More Blue Mondays.

Mohammad Iqbal’s Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam

January 21, 2015

The Reconstruction Of Religious Thought In IslamThe Reconstruction Of Religious Thought In Islam by Allama Mohammad Iqbal

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The word ‘seminal’ is derived from the Latin semina, meaning ‘seed’. Muhammad Iqbal’s Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam is rightly considered to be a seminal text because it has been, in many ways, like a seed that has flourished and grown in unexpected ways.

Iqbal’s philosophy of the self/ego is a valuable body of thought regarding the fundamental question, what does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be a person? While this facet of his work in the Reconstruction has not received as much attention as some of his notes regarding the nature of an Islamic society, it is incontrovertible that his vision for the Muslim society flowed directly and logically from his vision and philosophy of selfhood.

The Reconstruction, published first in 1930, is considered by some to be the key work of Islamic philosophy of the twentieth century. The value of the work is not in that every point the author argues is correct, for it is unlikely to find a scholar today who agrees with all of Iqbal’s opinions. Rather, the value and power of the work is in its spirit—one that inquires far and wide, searching historical sources and the knowledge of philosophers and scientists from the West as well as the East, with the conviction that there is something to be learned in all of these sources.

A third valuable facet of this work is Iqbal’s refusal to sink into a mentality of victimhood or fatalism which even today can be easily found in many Muslim communities. Iqbal’s vision of the self and the Supreme Ego (God) dictated that destiny was more a matter of vocation and calling, and then having the faith and power to fulfil that calling, rather than the idea that all ill-fortune had been preordained by an omniscient deity, and thus human agency was meaningless.

In our days there are few questions more important than that of Islam and modernity. Iqbal proposed a vision for a progressive Muslim society that so far appears to have failed in Pakistan and Iran. As long as there are people seeking to realize such a vision for Muslim society, Iqbal will remain important.

View all my reviews

“Finding an End in the Beginning: Eschatological Trends among ex-Muslim Christians”

December 25, 2014

Some time ago my colleague Brent Neely, vice president of Nazareth Evangelical Theological Seminary, asked me to contribute to a volume which he would be co-editing with Peter Riddell of Melbourne School of Theology. The book has now been published and is titled Islam and the Last Day: Christian Perspectives on Islamic Eschatology (MST Press, 2014). My contribution (pp 143-162) focused on how some Christians converts from Islam engage with the topics related to eschatology and the last day. Read the summary at Goodreads, or buy it at Amazon.

Publication: “The Bricolage of Global Anglicanism…”

December 3, 2014

This church review of Holy Trinity Anglican Church in San Antonio, Texas, was published in Anglican and Episcopal History in March of 2014. Holy Trinity is a church belonging to the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, itself a member of both the Church of Nigeria (Anglican) and the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), which calls itself a province-in-formation.

Read about the origins of this parish as it hived from Christ Episcopal Church (San Antonio) and incorporated multiple different Anglican influences into its worship.

Download the PDF from academia.edu or click here: Miller_AEH_San_Antonio-libre.

Thursday’s Lecture, part 3: World Missions

November 21, 2014

And part 3:

world missions

Thursday’s Lecture, part 2: St Patrick

November 21, 2014

Part 2 of Thursday’s lecture…


Thursday’s Lecture, part 1: Monastacism

November 21, 2014

For my students in the God Class, session J:



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