The Redemption of a Muslim American Patriot took this reader completely by surprise. The expectation was that the book would focus on the trials of being a Muslim patriot in this American landscape. It was expected that the author was an immigrant. Right away, neither of these suppositions were true and this reader had to confront personal stereotypes concerning these issues. Khan was born the eldest child of Bernard and Christine Spencer.
The Spencers were an African-American couple and made their early home in Pennsylvania. Khan was raised in a Christian home and his early memories are ones of a vibrant child in a love-filled family. This is not to say that his life was without troubles, but Khan’s parents repeatedly put their family’s needs above their own. Khan’s discussion of parental squabbling highlights the very normalness of his life, which brings his later spiritual lessons into sharper focus and allows the reader a deeper connection with his ideas.
The book starts with Khan’s earliest family memories and a description of his parent’s lives before he arrived. Khan looks back with reality and shows the actual messiness of family life, but also has a healthy sense of humor about mishaps, many of which he caused. The stories from the author’s childhood in the 1950s are truly fascinating. It is at times patently normal, and then radically out-of-the-norm. Khan’s father was a popular band member of that time and Khan’s tales of musicians stopping by his home for late night jam sessions are captivating.
Throughout the story, Khan emphasizes the importance of his community and references the people who caused him to be the man he later became. Khan’s Muslim faith is also a very important part of the story. Khan considers himself to be a scribe for Allah and for readers to learn a lesson from the story that might impact his or her own life.
While not overly religious, the book does impart how important faith is to the author and chronicles his growth as a religious man, living the best life he knows how. Khan’s General Order No. 5 is not necessarily a book for those searching for religious ideology. Instead, it seeks to underscore the divine plan of one man’s life and weaves together his earliest experiences with later life struggles that can serve as inspiration for all readers, regardless of religious preference.
However, it’s also a really interesting read. Reading Khan’s perspective gave this reader some new thoughts to mull over and a new appreciation for the life experiences others have.