The Apostate, My Search for Truth, by Dr. Mark Christian, Fidelis Publishing, 2022, 306pp.
Mark Christian grew up in Egypt as a devout Muslim. Of course, he wasn’t Mark Christian at the time. His name was Mohamed. And like his father before him, he was dedicated to the most rigorous practice of Islam. Even more, his father was well-known for his leading pilgrimages to Mecca, for being a doctor, being in the Egyptian military, and connected with the Muslim brotherhood. Mohamed is about the last person you’d think would apostatize from Islam. But he did.
He was the strange religious kid among his secular peers, always choosing to shun immorality. But there was no assurance in Islam. There can’t be. Their god is only wrathful. Even the best muslims still have a period of hell to be punished in. Except for martyrs of course.
Mohamed did not seek out to leave Islam. He sought to defend it. He wanted to be able to answer those who didn’t believe that Allah was god and that Mohamed was the only prophet. But his research into the history of Islam brought more and more unanswered questions. They piled up despite all of his best efforts to suppress the problems. Finally he “stumbled upon an unnerving truth: Mohamed was not a prophet.” He concluded, “My failure to find evidence was beside the point. There was no evidence to be found.” And, he concluded, “Islam was more a political movement than a religion. Mohamed masked his political motives under the cover of religion.” It was all a sham.
The book also chronicles the fascinating relationship between the author and his family, especially his father who was a great mentor to him but who later attempted to kill him for leaving the faith. The book also contains excellent explanation of Islamic and modern Egyptian history.
My only fault with the book (which I think is quite excellent in general) is that I would have liked to hear more of Mark’s conversion and life as a Christian. The book mostly deals with him leaving Islam. There were a few notes on his later conversion to Christianity. For one, as a child he once looked through the window into a Christian class at his international school and was scandalized by the words on the chalkboard, “God is Love.” Such a view had no place in Islam he knew. Later he was sent inspirational messages on the beliefnet website, not knowing at first that it was Christian. But did a review of Christian history lead him to think that Christianity is correct? Or did God work in some other way?
Overall, this is one of those books that I expect I’ll be thinking a lot about in the future.