I have read the book twice. I found it completely interesting, and easy to read. I suspect the book stores may shelve it under "religion" though in my view, it could very well be shelved under "logical thinking" or "current issues". From the outset, I must state that it is a challenging book. It challenges the mind of the reader to go beyond the "accepted" and to look at the evidence. You will certainly have to put aside whatever pre-conceived notions, prejudices, and purely faith-based world views to appreciate and enjoy the book.
Largely the book discusses perceptions people hold about religion in general and Islam in particular. He then compares the perceptions with scriptural evidence that is, the Quran and the Bible. He freely quotes both the verses from the Quran and the Bible and leaves the reader to form his own conclusions. Whether you agree or disagree with him, you cannot avoid the fact that much thought and research has gone into what he has written. And he presents such complex arguments in a very simple, non-academic, readable manner..and in many occasion, true to Akbar Ali's style, with wit and humour.
People have generally underestimated the role of religion in society in some aspects and in other aspects, they have overestimated its influence. This books has succeeded in demonstrating and in inviting the thinking reader to understand instances where the presence of religion in life can be unsuspectingly pervasive. If you agree with this possible inference from his book, it may frighten you. Hence this book has the potential of causing a paradigm shift in the reader's minds.
He has organized the book into short chapters making it easy for the reader to select the topics he wants to read first. This, to me is Syed's best book so far.
I would also describe this book as paving the way for more "thinking books" in this land of ours where there is a dearth of good local books. If we truly want to achieve a civilized and knowledge based society, more such books should be encouraged. I would recommend this book, apart from the general readers, to those in political office, the academics and all those who are in the "business of religion".
Once you finish reading it and assuming you take the effort to understand it, you may realize that it has less to do with religion! It has more to do with us as Malaysians and us as human beings on the Grand Designer's beautiful earth.
The book will be available at all major bookshops from Monday and it is priced at RM39.90. Happy reading.