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Monday, November 18, 2013

My Name Used to be Muhammad {Deseret Book Review}


Tito Momen was raised Muhammad Momen. Born in Nigeria, he was taught to observe the strict teachings of Islam. 
Beginning at age five, he woke at 4:45 every morning to attend the mosque and perform dawn prayer with the other men in his village. At age six, he began memorizing the Qur'an by copying the entire book word for word. He was preparing to become a cleric capable of leading a jihad, or holy struggle, to convert nonbelievers to Islam.But Tito's path took an unexpected turn when he was introduced to Christianity. His decision to believe in Jesus Christ cost him his family and his freedom. Sentenced to prison, Tito expected to spend his remaining days enduring a life sentence in an uncivilized Egyptian prison. For fifteen years, he suffered and waited and prayed. "I never gave up hope," Tito says. "I never stopped believing." 
Although he was falsely imprisoned, beaten, and ridiculed, Tito's remarkable true story is one of faith and forgiveness, as well as a witness that God does hear and answer prayers.
Because he was his fathers favorite son, when Muhammad Momen was a little boy he was groomed to become an "imam" or a holy leader in his community.  This required much sacrifice and dedication, even memorizing the Qur'an by copying it diligently, verse by verse.  Muhammad wanted very much to please his father and as a teen was thrilled to be accepted into a prestigious Islamic private school.   He was disillusioned however when he arrived at the school to discover it wasn't so much an institute of higher learning as it was a place to indoctrinate and brainwash young male teens to follow the teachings of extreme Islam.  The teachers were very abusive going so far as to beat students who asked questions that were contrary to Islamic teachings.  Muhammad stands up for himself and his friends eventually finding himself expelled from 2 schools, hurting his fiancee Aaban by cheating on her, drinking alcohol, and smoking.  

As he falls further and further away from Islam he finds himself falling closer to Christ.  He attends church with a friend and discovers the healing love and acceptance of Christianity when he attends the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Cairo.  Eventually seizing the opportunity to be baptized, Muhammad changes his name to Tito (the Italian version of Titus) and embraces the gospel tightly.  This dedication to Christ eventually leads to imprisonment where he was given a life sentence...

Never giving up hope and never giving up on his faith, Tito tells his story of life as a child of extreme Islam, his conversion to Christianity and paying the price for his dedication to God by serving 15 years in terrifying conditions.  A prisoner in a corrupt system of government.

All I can say about this book is wow.  It really brings to life what it is like to be a child of Islam.  How they live day to day.  And why they do what they do.  What is expected of them.  This book is eye-opening, educational, faith promoting, and heart wrenching all rolled into one.  Once I started this book, I could NOT put it down.  I needed to know what happened to Tito Momen.  This man is courageous.  I would love to meet him.  Wow.  I mean.  WOW.  

Some people did get to meet him at the Deseret Book flagship store in downtown Salt Lake City.  
Check this out:

An emotional reunion just happened as the man that baptized Tito Momen & his wife showed up for Tito's book signing tonight. Brother & Sister Whatcott last saw Tito in 1989 in Cairo just before Tito was incarcerated for 15 years & were surprised to pick up a copy of @ldsliving to discover what happened. Wow! #lds#missionarywork #hastenthework #mormon

I pulled this picture off of Deseret Books Facebook page.  Isn't it breath taking?  Look at his face.  I want to cry just seeing his expression!

You will want to read this book.  It is amazing.

Currently My Name Used to be Muhammad by Jeff Benedict and Tito Momen retails on DeseretBook.com as a hardcover for $19.79 or as a Bookshelf eBook for $14.99.

Disclaimer:  I received this book free of charge in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions expressed here are my very own.  Thank you so much Deseret Book!

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