NONIE DARWISH’S “WHOLLY DIFFERENT”
Half her life in Egypt, half her life in the U.S. — an insider’s insights on Islam and the West.
Nonie Darwish’s 2017 Regnery Faith book, Wholly Different: Why I Chose Biblical Values over Islamic Values, is a wide-ranging, reader-friendly view into the thinking of an Egyptian, Muslim woman who immigrated to America at age 30 and began to compare and contrast the values she was steeped in to those found in Judeo-Christian-influenced, Western culture.
Darwish was born in 1949 in Cairo, Egypt. She grew up in Egypt and Gaza. Her father, Mustafa Hafez, created and oversaw an anti-Israel terror group. When Darwish was eight, her father was assassinated by Israel. Egyptian President Nasser praised Darwish’s father as a shahid, or martyr. Darwish immigrated to the US in 1978, and she has lived here ever since. She converted to Christianity.
Wholly Different is part memoir, part sociological observation, and part prophetic clarion. Darwish’s style is cozy and conversational. Her sentences are short and easy to read. Darwish paints a vast, impressionistic landscape comparing the Muslim world to the West. She makes a series of thought-provoking points in a rapid style. She quotes relevant passages from Islamic scripture and shows how that scripture plays out in modern societies. In contrast, she quotes important Biblical passages and demonstrates how those have influenced the West.
Darwish combines the maternal love one might find in a wise grandmother, the kind who bakes cookies and contains a storehouse of folkloric wisdom, with the stripped-to-the-bone truth-telling and no-time-to-waste urgency of an Old Testament prophet. With every sentence, Darwish conveys the deep care she feels for every reader with an insistence on being heard, and heard for every last syllable.