The Faith Club

Three mothers from three faiths—Islam, Christianity, and Judaism—got together to write a picture book for their children that would highlight the connections between their religions. But no sooner had they started talking about their beliefs and how to explain them to their children than their differences led to misunderstandings. The project nearly fell apart.

After September 11th, Ranya Idliby, an American Muslim of Palestinian descent, faced constant questions about Islam, God, and death from her children, the only Muslims in their classrooms. Inspired by a story about Muhammad, Ranya reached out to two mothers to try to understand and answer those questions for her children. After just a few meetings, however, it became clear that the women themselves needed an honest and open environment where they could admit—and discuss—their concerns, stereotypes, and misunderstandings about one another. After hours of soul-searching about the issues that divided them, Ranya, Suzanne, and Priscilla grew close enough to discover and explore what united them.

The Faith Club became a New York Times bestseller and has spawned interfaith discussion groups in living rooms, churches, temples, mosques, and and classrooms. A memoir of spiritual reflections, it is told in three voices, allowing readers to feel as if they are eavesdropping on the authors’ private conversations, provocative discussions, and often controversial opinions and conclusions. The authors wrestle with the issues of anti-Semitism, prejudice against Muslims, and preconceptions of Christians at a time when fundamentalists dominate the public face of Christianity. They write beautifully and affectingly of their families, their losses and grief, their fears and hopes for themselves and their loved ones. And as the authors reveal their deepest beliefs, readers watch the blossoming of a profound interfaith friendship and the birth of a new way of relating to others. In a final chapter, they provide detailed advice on how to start a faith club: the questions to ask, the books to read, and most important, the open-minded attitude to maintain in order to come through the experience with an enriched personal faith and understanding of others.

Pioneering, timely, and deeply thoughtful, The Faith Club’s caring message has resonated with people of all faiths.