Agent: Nuur Mursyiidah binti Muhammad
Agent Activities: Top Secret Mission
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Author(s): Dr. Jeffrey Lang
Report Published: 31st January 2017
The book is aptly entitled “Even Angels Ask,” as according to the Quran, in surah Al-Baqarah ayah 30, even the angels questioned God’s wisdom in creating human beings. So why shouldn’t we?
The author Dr. Lang, a Muslim convert and an associate professor in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Kansas, begins by taking us back to the Quran. We rediscover its teachings and the answers to life’s fundamental questions e.g. Why are we created? What is our purpose? Why do trials and hardships exist?
After answering such questions, we are then introduced to the dilemmas and internal conflicts faced by the younger generation of western Muslims trying to stay firm in their faith. Dr. Lang gives a substantiated critique of the Muslim community’s shortcomings, covering delicate topics pertinent to American Muslims, including subcultural trends such as the dominance of Middle Eastern and Arabic features, which are of a merely cultural and not of religious importance, and traditional cultural attitudes towards women that violate the teachings of the Quran.
Even Angels Ask is his attempt to reel back the younger generations of Western Muslims, both born-Muslims and converts, who he feels are leaving Islam. Dr Lang wrote it first and foremost for his children. He also wrote it for Muslims seeking to reinvestigate and reaffirm the foundations of their faith. So if that’s you, you will benefit tremendously from this book- especially from his personal reflections and observations on some spiritual and emotional challenges that may face a new Muslim in the West.
Finally, this book is really helpful for young Muslims seeking reassurance about their religion as Dr. Lang successfully lays out the foundations of Islam in a refreshing and appealing manner.
“The Quran presents human history as a perennial struggle between two opposing choices: to resist or to surrender oneself to God.”
“The hardest fights, however, are those in which the opponent is elusive or concealed, when you are not sure when or how it will come at you, or whether it has penetrated your lines. I would discover soon after becoming a Muslim that the latter is more often than not the case with temptation, and that the more you grow in faith, the more subtle, seductive, and destructive are the traps that lure you.”
I was first introduced to Dr. Jeffrey Lang five years ago while going through a faith crisis. I had just started college. With the new environment and new friends, I started to question the way I lived my life. I started asking questions I had never asked before: Why I am praying? Why do I have to wear the hijab? Is Islam the true religion? How sure am I about my faith? It was hard because I felt that I could not raise these questions with anyone, not even my parents.
At that time, I was doing a 2 year preparatory programme for higher level education in the UK, and I was becoming worried that I was starting to lose my faith. I had a feeling that if I went to a western country without first strengthening my belief, it would falter within days. I feared that I would no longer be a Muslim by the time I finished my studies. So I knew I had to give myself a chance to rediscover and reintroduce myself to the foundations of my faith before going abroad.
I started to research about Muslim converts and learnt about their reasons for choosing Islam. And that’s how I was introduced to Dr. Jeffrey Lang. I then discovered his two popular books: Struggling to Surrender and Even Angels Ask.
Reading his books helped me to overcome the guilt I had for questioning the religion I was brought up in. I learnt that not only it is okay to have doubts, but that the Quran encourages its readers to engage in intellectual reasoning. As Dr. Lang wrote, “The Quran insists that it contains signs for those who are “wise” (2:269), “knowledgeable” (29:42-43), “endowed with insight” (39:9), and “reflective” (45:13). God’s persistent complaint against rejecters is that they refuse to make use of their intellectual faculties and that they close their minds to learning.
Thanks to this book I felt empowered to continue my quest for answers. I realised that I never chose to be a Muslim. The only reason I am a Muslim is because my whole family is Muslim and I grew up in a Muslim community. I became aware of a crossroad where I had to choose wholeheartedly to become a Muslim or disregard Islam and continue my search elsewhere.
I now know that if I don’t continuously renew my faith, it will atrophy and decay. I felt like I never really knew about Islam before reading this book. It made me realise how very little I know about my religion. And, that a huge part of the Islam I practiced in the past is rooted in cultural background, and has little to do with religious significance. In short, this book gave me the impetus to re-enter Islam as a new “convert”, a true believer.
I’m reading this book again after 5 years, and it’s like I never read it. Once again I rediscovered my faith, and found my life purpose. The reason why this book affects me so much is because of Dr. Lang’s simplistic style of writing, which appeals to my logic. Some of his personal accounts bring tears to my eyes. In many ways, I feel jealous of his intimate and spiritual experience with Islam. I too want similar moving experiences.
I would like to think that with my renewed faith, I can continue growing as a human being and as a servant of God.