My Accidental Jihad is the story of a young woman who, because she fell in love with an older Moslem man from Libya, found herself undertaking a very personal jihad of her own.
No, no, no… not that kind of jihad. As Krista Bremer puts it in her book," the prophet Muhammad taught that the greatest jihad, or struggle, of our lives is not the one that takes place on a battlefield but the one that takes place within our hearts...the struggle to manifest humility, wisdom, and compassion." Bremer, in order to make her new romance work long term, was forced to "wrestle with my intolerance and self-absorption." Despite the odds against her, she won her personal jihad and, with the man who would forever change her life, she created a beautiful new family of her own.
The author's choice of partners was both wise and lucky in the sense that she met a Moslem man who did not insist that she live under the strict religious restraints that Moslem women around the world contend with every day. The open-mindedness that each brought to the relationship allowed them to grow both spiritually and socially. Over the years, they have shared their respective cultures with their children, and have managed to meld themselves into a family that recognizes the best - and the worst- of both worlds.
There is a lot to like here, but I finished the book with the feeling that Bremer was going out of her way to soften some of the quirks of modern Islam, especially those pertaining to the treatment of women and a worldview that makes so many members of the faith ready to accept “battlefield jihad” as inevitable. She succumbs a bit to the common tendency automatically to see one’s own culture as cruder and less meaningful than another offering a simpler lifestyle in which family, spirituality, and worship are the main concerns.
That said, My Accidental Jihad affords the reader a view that is both optimistic and inspirational, a look at what is still possible in this world. While the book is not at all what I expected it to be from its title when I first picked it up, it reminded me of how much can be accomplished when two people combine a willingness to listen with the ability to find workable compromise.
That’s a worthy accomplishment, indeed, Ms. Bremer.