Review: SERVE: A Call to Muslims, By Soraya M. Deen

Reviewed by Susan Schwartz, TMO

Ms Deen’s book is subtitled: How to rejuvenate your masjid & strengthen you community. This excellent book is at once a call to action for Muslims and an instruction manual that will teach Muslims how to fashion and carry out their activist roles.

We cannot, she insists, wait any longer to counter Islamophobia, and we cannot expect others to do this for us. Regardless of who comes to our defense, it is Muslims who must carry their message out of the Masjid to the community, the nation, and the world. The Islamic faith is the guide for the Muslim activist – no other is needed.

She reminds her reader that the Prophet Muhammad (s) carried the message of Allah to all of Arabia in his lifetime and with no marketing campaign or public relations firms!

MS Deen has an unequivocal command to her reader regarding these actions: Do It Now!

Ms Deen interdicts the excuses people make about why they cannot be pro-active. First one must look around one’s Masjid. Do you feel valued? If the answer is yes, that is wonderful. If the answer is no, then you can make others feel valued. And you can create a valued and expansive cultures within your Masjid.

“Your individual talent is the Divine gift that Allah has given to you.”

She implores her reader to find that gift and develop it into an activity that will expand outward and serve the larger society.

Still uncertain? Find the things you are passionate about and analyze and utilize them.

Ms Deen urges positive thinking with the caveat that our culture may not be supportive. In that event use the following blueprint: Be flexible; keep it simple, keep the end in mind when you start.
Small tasks are important, not only because they are often a part of a larger picture, but because they overcome inertia.

It is important, Ms Deen stresses, to develop relationships with our brothers and sisters in the Masjid When conflict arises, as it invariably does, one must rely on conflict resolution.

Ms Deen, leaving no stone unturned, gives the reader an excellent blueprint for conflict resolution. Be willing to listen to the other party. Be able to accept feedback. Appreciate others and do all this with love.

A Muslim who seeks to be an activist would do well to seek a mentor – at once a teacher, counselor and advisor. This is usually an older person who has experience and success in the arena one wishes to enter.

She urges men and women to stand up together. Women should not be relegated to inactivity in the Masjids. Ms Deen cites numerous examples in the Koran of women who were intelligent and proactive.

One of the most valuable chapters is titled: The 46 Ways in Which you can Make A Difference. Here I hesitate to select a few as all have value. The chapter should be read and reread, but I will give the reader a hint of what to expect from these 46 pieces of wisdom. “Love all beings”; “forgive and forget”, and “be fit and healthy.”

Sponsorship and financing are an intrinsic part of activism and here again Ms Deen comes through with instructions and suggestions.

In dealing with relationships Ms Deen’s suggestions are universal and extend far out of the masjid and the realm of activism.

Let everything you say pass the following test:

1) Is what I am going to say the Truth?
2) Am I absolutely sure it is the Truth?
3) Can it be said with Kindness?
4) Will it Strengthen and Benefit the relationship?

Ms Deen asks us to take an inventory of our feelings and lists categories of feelings that exist when our needs are being met and when they are not. She follows with a list of needs meant to serve as a starting point for the process self discovery.

She speaks of Compassionate Communication and the need to make requests for specific and actionable deeds.Ir is essential to express gratitude.
Serve is truly an encyclopedia yet compelling written. I highly recommend it.

Ms Deans website is:


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