37 pages • 1 hour readEboo Patel
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For much of the book, Patel does not know what his identity is. He searches for it in various activist groups, in India, in relationships with women, as a member of the Catholic Workers, as a Rhodes scholar, and even in his earliest work with the IFYC. But he is continually reminded that membership in a group is not the same thing as having an identity. When he is meditating in India, a Muslim prayer keeps entering his mind, and it is the spark that helps him contemplate his possible identity as a Muslim, first and foremost. Helped by the example of his grandmother’s charity, his studies under Professor Nanji, and his own prayers, Patel eventually can say that he is a Muslim. That is his identity. And once he understands how he arrived at his epiphany, he can help others do the same for themselves. This is a central tenet of the IFYC’s paradigm: by gathering with people of other faiths and learning about those faiths, one can become a stronger member of one’s own religion because the exposure to variety helps crystallize the beliefs one already has. This is in direct opposition to the youth who are radicalized for violent ends.
By Eboo Patel