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

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.

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Author: duanemiller

I was born in Montana and grew up in Colorado and Puebla (in Mexico). I completed a BA in philosophy at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) and then an MA in theology at St Mary's University (also in San Antonio). Later life took me to Jordan where my wife and I studied Arabic, to Israel where I helped found a seminary, and to Scotland for doctoral work, among other places. I'm highly interested in the interactions of Islam, Christianity and secularism in modern contexts. My main areas of research for my PhD in divinity were religious conversion from Islam to Christianity, contextual theology, and the shari'a's treatment of apostates. I've also published research on global Anglicanism and the history of Anglican mission in the Ottoman Empire. I've had the pleasure of teaching in many places over the years: from Costa Rica to Turkey, and Kenya to Tunisia. Presently, I live in San Antonio where I am lecturer and researcher in Muslim-Christian relations at The Christian Institute of Islamic Studies (ticks.org), and sometime adjunct professor of theology at St Mary's University. Visit my blog (duanemiller.wordpress.com) or academia.edu page for more information or to have me speak at your church, university or seminary.

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