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Elias OmarProfessor Doris NeuzilRel 2239 October 2017Book Review 2In Children of Dust: A Portrait of a Muslim as a Young Man, there is more than one type of journey depicted by Ali Eteraz. He travels from his home in Pakistan to the United States of America and then back again, which is a literal, physical journey. There is even a journey in the evolution of his name throughout the story, which he changes to fulfill a new chapter in his life, almost, coinciding with his relationship to his religious identity. He also journeys, inasmuch as going from one state of being to another is considered journeying, from childhood to adulthood, depicting the stages of his maturation throughout his story. Finally, the book‘s overall form is a spiritual journey as Eteraz explores the faith and identity he was born into, that of being a Muslim. Each new experience alters and enhances his understanding and appreciation for his religious faith, tying together the physical, temporal and spiritual journeys. One’s spiritual life, like one’s life experiences, is deeply internalized, correlating with emotions and memories both positive and negative; with many spiritualties, as with Eteraz, the faith is a part of one’s identity. This means that as the person grows and changes, so does the faith and their relationship to it. We see that in Eteraz’s story, as he travels through time and space and from one spiritual point to another. When one is emotionally connected to a faith or identity they re-justify it and figure out how it works as they change as a person so that they do not have to lose that comforting, steadying aspect of their lives.
Omar2Eteraz’s story begins with his family in Pakistan, as a young boy beholden to strict, Muslim parents. From his youngest, he was taught that his destiny or his purpose was to bring Islam to the entire world throughout his entire life. We can see his parents’ hopes for that beginning with his name, which means perfume of Islam. Throughout the stories Eteraz tells, he is always learning something new about his faith from his family, his friends, and almost anyone he encounters. One noteworthy specific detail from the Islamic face that we learn from Eteraz’s story is about Iblis, a demon who is blamed whenever something goes wrong to a Muslim person; Iblis is also responsible for doling out punishments to those who break the faith’s rules.