The Imam's Daughter, by Hannah Shah
"This book should be required reading for all involved in inter-faith dialogue with Muslims.
It tells the story of a young woman born into a Pakistani Muslim family somewhere in the North of England - she has changed her name, the names of others and the name of her home town in order to protect herself and those who helped her.
Her father was both the local Imam, and an abusive husband and father. Some the author's earliest memories is of the beatings her father meted out on her mother. When she, at the age of five, intervened to protect her mother, "Hannah" herself became the object of his violence. That violence soon became sexual in nature. "Hannah" endured some ten years of beatings and rapes at the hands of her father before she left home, helped by a teacher at the local six-form college. Her conversion to Christianity resulted in threats, and indeed attempts, of further violence from her family and former community, because of "the shame" her apostasy from Islam occasioned. After resettling in the South of England she eventually gained a measure of peace and happiness through her new found faith and a happy marriage. I could not put the book down. It is a compelling narrative - horrifying and yet truly hopeful.
It exposes the corrosive force the sub-continent's culture of shame and honour has on its form of Islam and the resulting hypocrisy of those who should be committed to the principal "No compulsion is there in religion" (Qur'an 2:256 [Arberry's translation]). The book also brings to light the disturbing reality of religious persecution in modern-day Britain. I cannot recommend the book highly enough; it is an immensely important and timely book."
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