BOOK REVIEW – Lifting the Veil

The world of Muslim women

Phil and Julie Parshall understand the joys, heartaches, securities, and dangers facing Muslim women today, having lived alongside them for more than four decades.

Their book challenges us to try and understand the reasoning behind a worldview and perspective that is very different to us as Westerners and as Christians, so that we might be better equipped to walk alongside Muslim women, and sensitively share the Good News of Christ.

‘Few Muslim women have the freedom to safely and comfortably exchange their Islamic faith for a relationship with Jesus Christ.’

A door into their experiences

Phil and Julie, in this thoughtful yet sobering book, give a comprehensive overview of how Islam is lived out and experienced by women. From folk Islam to marriage, polygamy, sex, divorce and children, this book encompasses personal stories and examples, whilst also explaining the theological and cultural rationales underpinning these practices. Whilst only so much ground can be covered in a relatively short book, it manages to not be simplistic, regularly recognising the nuances and variations across different facets of Islam and varied cultural settings.

The many personal stories make Lifting the Veil an easy read, but not a comfortable one. On chatting with a friend from a Muslim Arab background, I asked her if the general realities painted in this book were her experience. She affirmed that they were, and we found a door was opened for us to talk more about topics we might not normally have done. Just a small example of how books such as this can help us ask new questions, which we pray can become Christ centred discussions.

Practical guidance

Phil and Julie end the book by giving helpful ideas and insights into common barriers to the Gospel among Muslim women, as well as practical ideas for how we can lovingly and graciously get past these. While not pretending to give all the answers, the book certainly gives the reader a deeper awareness of ‘life behind the veil’ as well as a greater appreciation for the deep joy and high cost experienced by Muslim women in choosing to follow Christ.

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