#Review #AJihadiForLove by Mohamed El Bachiri #Memoir #NonFiction @HoZ_Books

A Jihadi For Love by Mohamed El Bachiri with David Van Reybrouck

Mohamed El-Bachiri is a Muslim. He lost his wife Loubna in the Brussels bombing of March 2016 – a young woman murdered by a fanatical jihadist. Mohamed was left to bring up their three sons on his own.

Instead of hating or collapsing into grief, he put together a short book of reflections on love, loss and the ways in which we can live together despite differences of religion and ideology.

It is a plea for tolerance and compassion, a rejection of fanaticism, and it is a heartbreaking book. Mohamed El-Bachiri shows how an argument for treating each other with kindness and respect can survive even the most brutal atrocity.

For him, Islam should be a struggle for love, and the struggle for love should involve us all.

My review:

If I could quote this beautiful, moving and inspirational non-fiction memoir once, I could quote it a hundred times! The writer has clearly written about a personal tragedy, with exceptional honesty and in doing so, has produced a memoir that is thought-provoking and emotive. The synopsis details the tragedy that has left Mohamed as a single father to three boys aged just 10, 8, 3yrs old. This memoir details before the event and the writer’s recovery in the aftermath.

“By writing about love, I came closer to your shining face”

The memoir opens with the writer giving the real meaning of the term Jihadi. I was already aware of this due to reading Qasim Rashid’s non-fiction books, in which he speaks of the ‘jihadi of the pen’. But I think it is important for readers and it serves to clarify the title of the memoir. Mohamed talks of his upbringing in Belgium, being Belgian by birth right. He talks of his parent’s immigration into the country. He speaks French and knows limited Arabic. He states he is Muslim by birth, then by conviction. Mohamed comes across as a modern Muslim man, dealing with an incredible loss.

“Just consider me a dead man. A dead man giving a lesson in life”

He talks of Islam with love and details how it defines him as a man. He talks the reader through the moral values such as: uprightness, friendliness, sense of honour and keeping one’s word. He talks about attending a Catholic primary school and recalls the first time he ever was on the receiving end of racial abuse. I really admired this author, I considered his memoir to be brave, inspirational and emotionally intelligent.

“You may criticise the Koran, but as poetry it is without an equal”

“Wisdom begins with curiosity”

“The Future? It starts with history”

He talks of meeting his wife for the first time and how he fell instantly in love. Loubna was also Muslim, although she wore no headscarf and took a progressive outlook towards Islam. Their relationship struck me as one based on love and respect, even from a young age! I felt I could relate to their marriage, despite the cultural differences to my own.

“Her face radiatd so much love, so much goodness………..Loubna”

“Loubna, in fact is speaking through everything I say here”

Mohamed talks more in-depth about his faith and the area of Belgium he lives in, Molenbeek. An area which has sadly been home to radicalised Muslims. But he describes the community with such love and is determined to separate his community from those whom seek to harm others.

“If you think taking innocent lives and creating traumas is a form of justice, even of god’s justice, then you and I don’t belong to the same religion”

“Beyond everything that divides us and separates us, all inhabitants of this earth are bound together black people, white people, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims and atheists”

Mohamed talks about his connection to humanity, claiming he is a human first and a Muslim second. As an atheist, I do not conform to any religious standard. But that doesn’t mean I don’t admire religious practices. Having friends of various faiths has granted me the opportunity to ask freely many questions. This I personally consider a gift.

“You can lose your culture, your faith, your country, but you don’t lose your humanity”

He talks about the separation of religion and state; of which I completely agree. It is rare to want to meet an author and tell them you whole-heartedly agree with every word they have written; with this author I do! 5*

“I am a jihadi for love. Don’t ask me to hate, I would rather die”

*I Couldn’t find out much about the author, himself. So I have added some links that reference the book. The memoir is short at only 96 pages. But I highly recommend it!

Article from the Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/jul/29/mohamed-el-bachiri-brussels-jihad-love-suicide-attack-wife-killed-islam

YouTube Video of the authors speech (with subtitles): https://youtu.be/OW28KPPOiok


#Review #TheRoomByTheLake by @emmdib @HoZ_Books #Debut #Novel #NewRelease 4*

Recently I was unable to attend Harrogate due to further problems with my spine. I refunded my hotel room and spent the money on some signed first editions via Goldsboro books! 🙂
After all, these are the readers version of diamonds! lol
So here is one of the novels I bought and I was lucky enough to get #12 in printing!

The Room By The Lake by Emma Dibdin

When Caitlin moved from London to New York, she thought she had left her problems behind: her alcoholic father, her dead mother, the pressure to succeed. But now, down to her last dollar in a foreign city, she is desperately lonely.

Then she meets Jake. Handsome, smart, slightly damaged Jake. He lives off-grid, in a lakeside commune whose members practise regular exercise and frequent group therapy. Before long, Caitlin has settled into her idyllic new home.

It looks like she has found the fresh start she longed for. But, as the commune tightens its grip on her freedom and her sanity, Caitlin realizes too late that she might become lost forever…

My review:

There is a wealth of novels available presently with a cult theme. I have read several of them and found each varies its narrative completely.
This one was quite unique itself!

The novel opens with a young British woman, Caitlin fleeing Oxford for New York. She arrives in the big apple and discovers despite meeting a few people and embellishing her own backstory her life is turning out to be just as lonely and isolated. With not much hope or money left, it is at this moment she meets Jake at a party. After knowing Jake only 5 days, he offers her the chance of escape to his parent’s lake house just 2 hrs drive away in the country. But is Jake’s offer what it seems………

When Caitlin arrives at the lake house, her breath is taken with its size and beauty. Jake’s parents are nowhere to be seen and with the arrival of a bunch of young people. we learn Jake’s family is not what he had described, at all! Jake is part of a healing group, everyone has a routine and their individual roles within the group. At first, Caitlin is mortified at Jake’s Lies but with then the charismatic leader Don manages to talk her round to give the group a trial.

The group is made up of a variety of characters, all having their own reasons for residing at the lake house. The group runs like a hippy commune, but you can leave/return at any time. There is a healthy lifestyle focus via exercise and a paleo diet. I could really see the appeal to a young woman in emotional pain. It is in the groups sessions Caitlin, now known as Kate begins to open up about her past and her mother’s struggles with mental health and eventual death and her father’s alcoholism.
The groups motto has huge appeal…..

“We are here for each other, and we are nothing without each other”

Kate begins to warm again to Jake and other members of the group. With leader Don taking a keen interest in her past. The routine of body/yard/soul/mind work takes hold and before Kate knows it she is a new confirmed member. The Friday and Saturday parties with the apfelwein cider and the vision quests, hold little control over the members of the group. So it is with no wonder she begins to feel this sense of a new home and new found love of life. Even worshipping Don as a father figure.
That is until the arguments start and a body is found hanging………..

A strong newly released, debut novel. One that could also appeal to the older YA genre. 4*

Emma Dibdin
Twitter: @emmadib