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A powerful true story about a Muslim doctor's service to small-town America and the hope of overcoming our country's climate of hostility and fear. NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY PUBLISHERS WEEKLY In 2013, Ayaz Virji left a comfortable job at an East Coast hospital and moved to a town of 1,400 in Minnesota, feeling called to address the shortage of doctors in rur A powerful true story about a Muslim doctor's service to small-town America and the hope of overcoming our country's climate of hostility and fear. NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY PUBLISHERS WEEKLY In 2013, Ayaz Virji left a comfortable job at an East Coast hospital and moved to a town of 1,400 in Minnesota, feeling called to address the shortage of doctors in rural America. But in 2016, this decision was tested when the reliably blue, working-class county swung for Donald Trump. Virji watched in horror as his children faced anti-Muslim remarks at school and some of his most loyal patients began questioning whether he belonged in the community. Virji wanted out. But in 2017, just as he was lining up a job in Dubai, a local pastor invited him to speak at her church and address misconceptions about what Muslims practice and believe. That invitation has grown into a well-attended lecture series that has changed hearts and minds across the state, while giving Virji a new vocation that he never would have expected. In Love Thy Neighbor, Virji relates this story in a gripping, unforgettable narrative that shows the human consequences of our toxic politics, the power of faith and personal conviction, and the potential for a renewal of understanding in America's heartland.


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A powerful true story about a Muslim doctor's service to small-town America and the hope of overcoming our country's climate of hostility and fear. NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY PUBLISHERS WEEKLY In 2013, Ayaz Virji left a comfortable job at an East Coast hospital and moved to a town of 1,400 in Minnesota, feeling called to address the shortage of doctors in rur A powerful true story about a Muslim doctor's service to small-town America and the hope of overcoming our country's climate of hostility and fear. NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY PUBLISHERS WEEKLY In 2013, Ayaz Virji left a comfortable job at an East Coast hospital and moved to a town of 1,400 in Minnesota, feeling called to address the shortage of doctors in rural America. But in 2016, this decision was tested when the reliably blue, working-class county swung for Donald Trump. Virji watched in horror as his children faced anti-Muslim remarks at school and some of his most loyal patients began questioning whether he belonged in the community. Virji wanted out. But in 2017, just as he was lining up a job in Dubai, a local pastor invited him to speak at her church and address misconceptions about what Muslims practice and believe. That invitation has grown into a well-attended lecture series that has changed hearts and minds across the state, while giving Virji a new vocation that he never would have expected. In Love Thy Neighbor, Virji relates this story in a gripping, unforgettable narrative that shows the human consequences of our toxic politics, the power of faith and personal conviction, and the potential for a renewal of understanding in America's heartland.

30 review for Love Thy Neighbor: A Muslim Doctor's Struggle for Home in Rural America

  1. 4 out of 5

    Scott

    "We can't be scared of each other. We need to join together and build a foundation of love and respect. We don't have to agree on everything, but let's know first. I would hope we could do that. Let's know." -- excerpt from Dr. Ayaz Virji's speech to fellow community members Virji's family emigrated to the U.S. when he was six months old. He was educated at Georgetown University, and though he was Muslim he also had a great interest in learning about Christianity in tandem with earning his medica "We can't be scared of each other. We need to join together and build a foundation of love and respect. We don't have to agree on everything, but let's know first. I would hope we could do that. Let's know." -- excerpt from Dr. Ayaz Virji's speech to fellow community members Virji's family emigrated to the U.S. when he was six months old. He was educated at Georgetown University, and though he was Muslim he also had a great interest in learning about Christianity in tandem with earning his medical degree. After quickly tiring of "turnstile medicine" (a high volume of patients = move them in and out as fast as is reasonable) during stints at hospitals in Washington, D.C. and suburban Pennsylvania (woot-woot!) he sought to instead practice "dignified medicine." As the midwestern / heartland area of America has been in dire need of physicians, he moved his wife and kids to a small town in southwest Minnesota and became a supervisor at its medical center. After two years in the community Donald Trump was elected president, and Virji details that he could sense a noticeable shift in how acquaintances and neighbors felt about / acted around he and his family. In response to growing concerns and some (thankfully non-violent) incidents he was then invited by a friend, a deputy pastor at a Lutheran church, to present a speech / Q&A session to some community members. Much of his Love Thy Neighbor text is framed around his talk from that night. As I had commented to a GR friend I quickly read through the initial nine chapters in one night, though the book is only about 200 pages. Although this is not strictly a biography, Dr. Virji still has an interesting life story and he sounds sincere about the type of physician he wants to be for his patients. His speech - which is neither boring nor deadly serious, and actually has some well-placed humor in comparing / contrasting Christianity and Muslim faiths - is something A LOT of Americans would benefit from hearing or reading. The book starts to lose its way or focus a little in the final few chapters - perhaps some editorial work could've tightened it up - but I'll certainly remember the initial burst of energy from the first 120 or so pages. By the conclusion Virji (and his family) will likely sound like the kind of people you'd want as friends, neighbors or members of the community.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jade

    This book packs a huge punch - and is a necessary read. The honesty, humility, outrage, and truths in this book are so refreshing and educational - personal but also the experience of so many people. Dr Ayaz Virji is a doctor, father, Muslim, and American. Tired of working in a busy hospital where the main focus is getting patients in and out, he decides to move to a small town in Minnesota to take over a position in the hospital there. He moves with his wife and kids, and after a short period of This book packs a huge punch - and is a necessary read. The honesty, humility, outrage, and truths in this book are so refreshing and educational - personal but also the experience of so many people. Dr Ayaz Virji is a doctor, father, Muslim, and American. Tired of working in a busy hospital where the main focus is getting patients in and out, he decides to move to a small town in Minnesota to take over a position in the hospital there. He moves with his wife and kids, and after a short period of adjustment to small town America, they find themselves thriving in the community. Dr Ayaz Virji helps expand the hospital, his wife Musarrat opens her own business, and their three kids appear to settle in well at school. And then Donald Trump is elected as president. After Dr Ayaz Virji’s initial post-election outrage and fearful thoughts he decides to stay put and with the help of his wife and the local Lutheran pastor, Mandy France, sets up a community talk where he provides information on Islam and important truths on Islam, terrorism, women, and Sharia Law. His talk is a success and the group expands their horizons to other local towns with the idea of educating locals on Islam and creating a community of unity (“love thy neighbor”) rather than fear and hate. Some talks go well, others are outright scary, one town even going so far to book an anti-Muslim hate speaker to “counter” Dr Ayaz Virji’s talk. Still, he and his family have stayed put in their home and continue to educate and rise above the rising wave of hate in this country. Dr Ayaz Virji and Musarrat are remarkable. Brave, human, caring. This book provides an immediate view of how the rising tide of Islamophobia hurts people all over the country every single day, and how ignorance continues to prevail thanks to a continuous rhetoric of hate spewed forth this administration, the media, and social media outlets like Twitter. Being spat on by a neo Nazi last year left its mark on me - I can’t imagine how painful it is to have to live with these types of assaults, aggressions, and micro-aggressions every single day. This book is a necessary read, and I really hope that it finds itself in the hands of those who need to read it the most (I’m looking at you, people who voted for Trump because they thought he was going to make their lives better). Thanks to Dr Ayaz Virji for his bravery and service to all Americans in need of education - it makes my heart hurt that he is doing this but soar because hopefully it is making a difference. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jill Dobbe

    An insightful account of a Muslim doctor who moves his family to a small town in Minnesota after becoming disenchanted with the in-and-out type of medicine practiced in his former east coast hospital. The small town life is perfect and he and his family feel secure in the community. That is, until the 2016 election when Donald Trump becomes the U.S. president. Dr. Virji is crushed and disheartened to learn that most of his warm and friendly community voted for Trump. After learning the news he de An insightful account of a Muslim doctor who moves his family to a small town in Minnesota after becoming disenchanted with the in-and-out type of medicine practiced in his former east coast hospital. The small town life is perfect and he and his family feel secure in the community. That is, until the 2016 election when Donald Trump becomes the U.S. president. Dr. Virji is crushed and disheartened to learn that most of his warm and friendly community voted for Trump. After learning the news he decides he can't live in the U.S. anymore. He thinks about selling his house, ending his position as director of the hospital and moving his family to Dubai. However, he stays and decides to educate his community on Islam and what it means to be Muslim. The book begins with him standing in front of a packed auditorium at the local high school nervously beginning his talk. Throughout the book Virji writes about instances when he, his wife and children experienced anti-Muslim threats. There were times when it was outright dangerous for them. However, educating their small community and trying to dispel the negative beliefs about being Muslim, was a way that the Virji family was able to live safely while continuing to live in their small, Midwest community. It has to be a frightening time in the U.S. for all practicing Muslims. The negative attitudes and threats along with the fear, hatred and reoccurring anti-Muslim violence has become intolerable. Education, understanding and tolerance of all religions and races must continue to be preached over and over again, starting with a government that must set the tone of respect for all citizens. Thank you Netgalley, author and publisher. .

  4. 5 out of 5

    Gene

    I was not a fan of this book, and I think that mostly might be due to what I consider a bait-and-switch on part of the author and/or publisher. When I picked up this book, I thought it was going to be about a doctor who moved to small town America, had a rough time adjusting, eventually some feel-good stuff happened or at least there'd be a nice lesson or two about human nature. This is not that book. At all. For starters, there was no difficulty adjusting. He makes it quite clear from the beginni I was not a fan of this book, and I think that mostly might be due to what I consider a bait-and-switch on part of the author and/or publisher. When I picked up this book, I thought it was going to be about a doctor who moved to small town America, had a rough time adjusting, eventually some feel-good stuff happened or at least there'd be a nice lesson or two about human nature. This is not that book. At all. For starters, there was no difficulty adjusting. He makes it quite clear from the beginning that he got along great in his new home and everybody loved him and he - and his family - quickly became leaders in the community. Then something changed... (spoilers: it was Trump!) This book is really a searing indictment of the openness of hate that was facilitated by the election of Donald Trump wrapped up in a cliff notes version of a national touring speech the author presents. And that's fine, I guess. But that's not what I was expecting. Let me preface this next part by saying that I agree with the author's larger points and political ideology. However... the election of Trump is completely stripped down to his most basic preconceived notions and is allowed no room for voter nuance or legitimacy. His "struggle" is often - although not always - manifested in his worst assumptions about other people's hearts and heads, and not their behaviors or actions towards him and his family - a point he readily admits and then dismisses out of hand. A very large portion of this book is dedicated to the anger and sadness he feels in the election and policies of Trump, and in no way furthers the "small town struggle" narrative indicated in the title. And hey, if that's your thing, great! I recommend reading this book. And I mean that sincerely and without snark. But ultimately this is an echo-chamber piece who's greatest contribution is as a cathartic weekend read for those who feel their whole world was upended one Tuesday in November. Personally, I would have preferred the author (or publisher) to be a bit more open about what this was. They could have embraced the development of his speech as an effort to illustrate how Muslims view their faith, their place in society, the misconceptions people have about them, and why so many people feel hurt by the intolerance that has been on wide display for the last three years. Maybe then he could have used this book as a way to bridge gaps and open up conversations about our similarities and shared community as well as our prejudices. Unfortunately, he decided to write a divisive work of punditry that will immediately turn away the people who would be most willing to engage in those conversations with him.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    This book was so amazing. It was extremely moving. It made me so angry at my fellow Americans & fellow Christians who are so bigoted & hardhearted. I find Islam a beautiful religion and am impressed by the devotion I see among its members; I find so many parallels to my own religion. I think this book really explains a lot about the current climate of our nation, and not in a good way. But the story has so much of uplift and so much to be admired as well.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This book will upset you and anger you but that’s the point - to expose the hate in this country and to educate. The hate that is promoted by our own President sickens. His examples of the expressed hate are downright scary post Trump's election. But, his message is so simple - Love thy Neighbor - and take the time to get to know people before judging them and spreading misconceptions. Love, acceptance, and inclusion are so much easier and beautiful than hate. Education and knowledge are key. Ev This book will upset you and anger you but that’s the point - to expose the hate in this country and to educate. The hate that is promoted by our own President sickens. His examples of the expressed hate are downright scary post Trump's election. But, his message is so simple - Love thy Neighbor - and take the time to get to know people before judging them and spreading misconceptions. Love, acceptance, and inclusion are so much easier and beautiful than hate. Education and knowledge are key. Every American should read this book. Dr. Virji is someone to be admired. I only wish our fellow citizens treated him and all of his brothers and sisters in faith better. I learned a great deal about the Islam reading this book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Elise

    What a wonderful book. Thank you to Dr. Virji for sharing his story and modeling what a good neighbor is. My mother is from that part of Minnesota and the people are kind, but I am concerned about relatives that say they are Christian and then don’t love their neighbors as themselves or express hatred and intolerance of certain groups. I am hoping that this is just ignorance. This book was a reminder that there is good in others and to treat everyone kindly.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lauren Hagerman Tekelly

    An important work depicting the very real effects of when hate is endorsed in this country. Heartbreaking and motivating.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kim Lockhart

    Important conversation starter regarding how we treat each other on the micro and macro level, and how much our internalized biases impact those interactions. The author eschews complex paradigms or socio-political concepts in favor of sharing his first person emotional experiences. It's possible that he's preaching to the choir, but that would be a biased supposition in itself. Illumination can, after all, start with a spark. Important conversation starter regarding how we treat each other on the micro and macro level, and how much our internalized biases impact those interactions. The author eschews complex paradigms or socio-political concepts in favor of sharing his first person emotional experiences. It's possible that he's preaching to the choir, but that would be a biased supposition in itself. Illumination can, after all, start with a spark.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    I was surprised to discover this is the true story of a young Muslim doctor who moved his family to the real town of Dawson, Minnesota, and, after Trump’s candidacy and election, suffered terrible racism and ostracism for his religion. I grew up in Minnesota and was familiar with Montevideo and Granite Falls (also mentioned in the book) but not with Dawson. It is very small (about 1500 people) so I figured it was an alias. But no, it is a real town, and the story uses the actual names of the peo I was surprised to discover this is the true story of a young Muslim doctor who moved his family to the real town of Dawson, Minnesota, and, after Trump’s candidacy and election, suffered terrible racism and ostracism for his religion. I grew up in Minnesota and was familiar with Montevideo and Granite Falls (also mentioned in the book) but not with Dawson. It is very small (about 1500 people) so I figured it was an alias. But no, it is a real town, and the story uses the actual names of the people in the town. I did not like the book very much. It had an emotional extremism that I found annoying. The story is repetitive and seems to have no real outcome. I also did not much care for the author, who seemed to have a childish way of over-reacting to difficult situations. I preferred his wife who seemed to handle difficult situations in a much more adult way. Still it does point out the horrible hate that has been released into our country with the candidacy and election of Donald Trump. If it helps others recognize the damage that such hate is doing, the book has a purpose. I found websites such as https://www.nextavenue.org/muslim-doc... much more readable and useful.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rachel León

    Powerful, necessary.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Amanda ✨

    This is such a powerful and important book that shares a perspective of a Muslim doctor trying to find home (and acceptance) in America

  13. 4 out of 5

    Joanne Gunter

    This is a powerful book. I have recently been reading a number of books about racism, bigotry, and hate in this country. I knew it existed before Trump, but since Trump the people with these hate-filled ideas feel emboldened and many have come out of the woodwork to make their hate known and seen. Dr. Ayaz Virji is a doctor who in 2013 leaves a comfortable job in an east coast hospital to take a job in a small town in Minnesota because he feels called to help address the doctor shortage in rural This is a powerful book. I have recently been reading a number of books about racism, bigotry, and hate in this country. I knew it existed before Trump, but since Trump the people with these hate-filled ideas feel emboldened and many have come out of the woodwork to make their hate known and seen. Dr. Ayaz Virji is a doctor who in 2013 leaves a comfortable job in an east coast hospital to take a job in a small town in Minnesota because he feels called to help address the doctor shortage in rural America. His wife and his three children come with him and they all are excited and hopeful about settling in to a new life. But they are also Muslim and Musarrat, his wife, wears a hijab. All is great at first as they meet new friends, buy a house they love, and settle into small town life. But then in 2016 Donald Trump is elected and things change. His children face anti-Muslim comments in school and some of his patients question whether he belongs in the community, among other incidents. Dr. Virji is (understandably) so angry and upset that he thinks they should leave. Then a local pastor invites Dr. Virji to speak at her church to address misconceptions about what Muslims practice and believe. That invitation grows into a wide-spread lecture series helping to inform and calm the fears and hatefulness stoked by Trump's anti-Muslim rhetoric. But not without more and uglier anti-Muslim incidents directed at Dr. Virji and his family. This book made me angry and sad, but also hopeful that some few dedicated and good people can make a difference. Highly recommended.

  14. 4 out of 5

    LeAnn Suchy

    During the last few years, I can’t imagine stepping in the shoes of a Muslim family in the United States, but we get a glimpse of what it was like in this book. This family intentionally moved to small town America so their father could work at a hospital and help rural Americans get care that is often hard to find. They liked their neighbors. Their kids were thriving in school. They were part of the community. Then the 2016 election happened. A huge part of their county voted for a man who said During the last few years, I can’t imagine stepping in the shoes of a Muslim family in the United States, but we get a glimpse of what it was like in this book. This family intentionally moved to small town America so their father could work at a hospital and help rural Americans get care that is often hard to find. They liked their neighbors. Their kids were thriving in school. They were part of the community. Then the 2016 election happened. A huge part of their county voted for a man who said horrible things about people like them. Their kids started getting bullied. People questioned if they should be there, although some said they were the “right” kind of Muslim, whatever that means. This family went through all kinds of emotions, but then the father did an amazing thing that I know I couldn’t do. He spoke to the community and answered questions about his faith. He even challenged the crowd to distinguish between Bible and Koran verses and of course they couldn’t. This book is a small look at what families like these have gone through in our current climate and it should be a must read, especially for those people in the small MN town this family used to call home.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Anneke

    Book Review: Love Thy Neighbor: A Muslim Doctor's Struggle for Home in Rural America Author: Ayaz Virji, M.D. and Alan Eisenstock Publisher: Crown Publishing/Convergent Books Publication Date: June 11, 2019 Review Date: July 17, 2019 I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the blurb: “A powerful true story about a Muslim doctor's service to small-town America and the hope of overcoming our country's climate of hostility and fear.” This was a powerful me Book Review: Love Thy Neighbor: A Muslim Doctor's Struggle for Home in Rural America Author: Ayaz Virji, M.D. and Alan Eisenstock Publisher: Crown Publishing/Convergent Books Publication Date: June 11, 2019 Review Date: July 17, 2019 I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. From the blurb: “A powerful true story about a Muslim doctor's service to small-town America and the hope of overcoming our country's climate of hostility and fear.” This was a powerful memoir by a Muslim American physician. He graduated from Georgetown (my school) both as an undergraduate and from the medical school. He worked in a high profile medical system on the East Coast, where he practiced what he called “turnstile medicine.” Churning as many patients daily through his schedule, never getting to spend the amount of time each patient really needed. He wanted to practice what he called “dignified medicine.” He left that turnstile practice and found a small rural town in Minnesota where he basically was in charge of all the medical care for the 1500 person population is Dawson, Minnesota. Everything was going swell, then Donald Trump was elected. The day after the election, Dr. Virji was ready to leave. Leave America entirely, feeling completely unwelcome in his country, as he puts it, “a brown Muslim.” I’m not going to spill what he went through. I suggest you read his book to find out. The day that Trump was elected, I too was hysterical, wanting to leave the country. But I don’t have a dual passport, and I don’t have any skills that might look attractive to any country I’d want to emigrate to. I have run the gamut of rage through severe depression, grief and loss about what has happened to America. So if I, an elder white woman can feel so much rage and grief, I can’t begin to imagine what any Muslim or person of color has been feeling. The memoir was extremely well written. I gulped the book down in one day. I’m left wondering how Dr. Virji and his family are doing these days. Are they still in America, or did they depart to Dubai, as he many times was inclined and threatened to do? I know if I had a way to leave, I sure would. Things have turned out way worse than we ever could have imagined. I know a NetGalley review is no place for politics, but the book brought this topic up and I’m simply responding. I highly, highly recommend reading this book. The writing is spot on as Dr. Virji shares his experience. Please, please read this book. Thank you to Crown Publishing for allowing me the chance to read this memoir. Best of luck to Dr. Virji and his family. This review will be posted on NetGalley, Goodreads and Amazon. #netgalley #lovethyneighbor #ayazvirji #crownpublishing

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kireja

    Book Riot Read Harder challenge 2020 task # 12: Read a memoir by someone from a religious tradition (or lack of religious tradition) that is not your own. Ayaz Virji's book, Love Thy Neighbour: A Muslim Doctor's Struggle for Home in Rural America, attempts to build bridges and foster dialogue in an era of deep division and unrest that has seen a troubling surge in anti-immigrant sentiments, Islamophobia, antisemitism, and hate crimes. Although Virji's book is framed within a U.S context, myths ab Book Riot Read Harder challenge 2020 task # 12: Read a memoir by someone from a religious tradition (or lack of religious tradition) that is not your own. Ayaz Virji's book, Love Thy Neighbour: A Muslim Doctor's Struggle for Home in Rural America, attempts to build bridges and foster dialogue in an era of deep division and unrest that has seen a troubling surge in anti-immigrant sentiments, Islamophobia, antisemitism, and hate crimes. Although Virji's book is framed within a U.S context, myths about immigrants and Muslims in particular are prevalent worldwide, so Virji's book is a good resource because he dispels these myths by using facts and his own lived experiences. I definitely gained a lot of insight about Islam, or at least Virji's interpretation of Islam and how he practices the religion on a day-to-day basis. In addition to educating others about his religion, Virji also attempts to "humanize" immigrants and Muslims, to show that immigrants and Muslims are just like everyone else and that we have far more in common with one another than the things that divide us. Yet the burden shouldn't be on Dr. Virji or other minorities to reaffirm their humanity and justify their beliefs and values. Dr. Virji was understandably fed up with having to defend and explain, yet he perseveres hoping that he will be able to bridge the gap. The layout of Virji's book is divided into three general sections: the first part provides Virji's backstory, his motivations for moving to Dawson, Minnesota, and his experiences in Dawson prior to the 2016 election; the second section is the "Love Thy Neighbor" lecture; and the final portion details the reactions to his lectures and how Virji deals with the aftermath. One thing that detracted from the flow of the book was the writing style, specifically in the middle section, which was an almost verbatim account of his lecture. Like in his actual lecture where Virji rambled on so often that his wife and Pastor Mandy had to give him the signal to wrap it up, Virji veered off course in the book, but unfortunately I couldn't tell Virji to move things along. Unfortunately, Virji's rambling comes at a price; since he ate up too much time, he wasn't able to do a Q & A session, which could've opened up the discussion even more. So does Virji manage to bridge the gap? To be honest, i'm not sure. Virji was clearly welcomed in Dawson and in an NPR interview ¹ he even goes on to describe his neighbours warmly, saying "people there are kind, you know, many of them are far better than I am as a person". Yet, his county voted overwhelmingly in favor of Trump and Virji is adamant in his belief that the election brought hate to the surface in Dawson; he states "I was really angry about what had happened. That my own neighbors and friends voted for the guy who wants me on a registry and who wants to ban Muslims". I can understand how Virji is appalled by the Trump administration's policies, but i'm not sure it's fair to claim that the people in Dawson that voted for Trump, voted for him based on a single issue such as the travel ban. Virji's statement seems too simplistic and one that would surely get people's backs up, thereby ending all hopes of reconciliation. In addition, Virji had friends like Doug, who voted for Trump, but who offered Virji his support and loyalty and Virji seems to reciprocate the sentiment. One thing that is undoubtedly clear is that Virji succeeds in bridging the gap through direct encounters with people who are willing to open up the line of communication and are open to learning from others. Finally, the title of the book is a little misleading because Virji does fit into Dawson and he does have a sense of belonging and community there. Instead a more apt title for the book would be Love Thy Neighbour: A Muslim Doctor's Struggle for Home in Trump's America. I'll end this review with a profound quote by Dr. King. “I am convinced that men hate each other because they fear each other. They fear each other because they don’t know each other, and they don’t know each other because they don’t communicate with each other, and they don’t communicate with each other because they are separated from each other” -Martin Luther King Jr. ¹ https://www.npr.org/2019/06/16/733146...

  17. 4 out of 5

    Steven Roth

    I frequently read books that help me understand the world from other people's perspectives, and this book did an excellent job of that. However, it became very clear to me as I read this book (but obviously not clear to the author as he wrote it) that his hatred of Trump voters because of President Trump is exactly the same hatred that some people have for Muslims because of Mohamed Atta. Just as all Muslims are not hate-filled, extremist, stripclub-frequenting terrorists like Mohamed Atta, all T I frequently read books that help me understand the world from other people's perspectives, and this book did an excellent job of that. However, it became very clear to me as I read this book (but obviously not clear to the author as he wrote it) that his hatred of Trump voters because of President Trump is exactly the same hatred that some people have for Muslims because of Mohamed Atta. Just as all Muslims are not hate-filled, extremist, stripclub-frequenting terrorists like Mohamed Atta, all Trump voters are not self-absorbed, filter-free, hate-mongering blowhards like Trump. The hatred the author spews in this book towards Trump voters is exactly the same hatred some ignorant people (including Trump) spew towards Muslims. As a result, this book is not worth reading. His message is discredited by his own hypocrisy. Perhaps the author will recognize this hypocrisy and will write a follow-up book that goes beyond "my hatred is more righteous than your hatred". The author seems to have a valuable perspective to offer to non-Muslims if he could get past this.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jessica - How Jessica Reads

    Nothing super new (as someone who dreaded Trump’s rise to power, and who fears for minorities in modern America), but powerfully disseminated in a short and insightful way. Full review coming for Shelf Awareness.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Deb M.

    I would recommend this book to anybody 14 or older as long as they can read with an open heart. The author has done so much to educate Americans about Muslims and what they are going through since Trump began his campaign. The author is a doctor in Dawson, MN. It is a small town near the South Dakota border. The author chose to move to Dawson so he could serve a small community in desperate need of a full-time physician. He also wanted to practice medicine that is patient-centered. When he and h I would recommend this book to anybody 14 or older as long as they can read with an open heart. The author has done so much to educate Americans about Muslims and what they are going through since Trump began his campaign. The author is a doctor in Dawson, MN. It is a small town near the South Dakota border. The author chose to move to Dawson so he could serve a small community in desperate need of a full-time physician. He also wanted to practice medicine that is patient-centered. When he and his family moved to Dawson he was welcomed into the community with open arms. Unfortunately, as the Trump campaign took off, things in the small town began a subtle shift. When Trump was elected the world for the doctor and his family changed. You really do need to read the book in order to grasp the changes and understand how the author decided to handle the changes. What the author shared regarding his feelings after Trump was elected was a very powerful segment of the book. The educational portion provided by the author was something everybody should read. It was presented exactly as the author presented it to the People of Dawson. Unless you are a Muslim or a religious scholar you will likely be unfamiliar with much of what was presented. Since I live in a small Minnesota town I was not surprised by what the author shared. In fact, he did a phenomenal job. I generally donate my books to the local library but, sadly, this one will be circulated amongst friends. You might be asking why? I know if it went to the town library it would never see the light of day, it would never be on the shelf or in the book sale. Please take a chance and read this book. If you feel the way I do please share it. If one person at a time is educated about what being Muslim means this author will have done a powerful Mitzvah (as his Jewish brethren would say).

  20. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    A quick but raw and heartfelt read. The author is a Muslim doctor who practices in rural Minnesota and was understandably disconcerted by the fact that 2/3 of the voters in his county voted for Trump in 2016, despite the fact that he (Dr. Virji) was well liked and respected, and Trump, on the other hand, wanted to start a Muslim registry. This is no unicorn and rainbows account. It is hard work for Dr. Virji to try to bring understanding about Islam to various contentious gatherings. I was touch A quick but raw and heartfelt read. The author is a Muslim doctor who practices in rural Minnesota and was understandably disconcerted by the fact that 2/3 of the voters in his county voted for Trump in 2016, despite the fact that he (Dr. Virji) was well liked and respected, and Trump, on the other hand, wanted to start a Muslim registry. This is no unicorn and rainbows account. It is hard work for Dr. Virji to try to bring understanding about Islam to various contentious gatherings. I was touched by his candid account of the anger he felt and his eventual commitment to continue his educational sessions. Highly recommended.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sabeeha Rehman

    Emotionally charged story of a doctor trying to raise awareness about Islam in tiny-town-USA, his triumphs and challenges. I had no idea that misconceptions about Islam and anti-Muslim sentiment was so deep and so potent among good people. I read the book in one sitting.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bookworm

    I've been on a streak of reading up on small town experiences lately and I remembered I still have this book from the library. It seemed especially poignant and relevant in today's experience given with my recent "small town" media consumption I thought I'd give this a go. The book is what it says on the tin. Author Virji moves his family to a rural town in the Midwest and the book chronicles the adjustment, the struggle, the highs and lows, the racism, microaggressions, and more. It was interest I've been on a streak of reading up on small town experiences lately and I remembered I still have this book from the library. It seemed especially poignant and relevant in today's experience given with my recent "small town" media consumption I thought I'd give this a go. The book is what it says on the tin. Author Virji moves his family to a rural town in the Midwest and the book chronicles the adjustment, the struggle, the highs and lows, the racism, microaggressions, and more. It was interesting to see his interactions with various people: from patients to the public to his co-workers, etc. and all the range of how these conversations and interactions can go. From this Virji began a lecture series where he talks about himself, his faith and more in his community of Dawson, MN. I really wanted to like the book. But it keeps jumping back and forth in time and those leaps are extremely jarring and frustrating. I appreciated so many other aspects of the book: discussions of his faith, his history, his family, etc. but style definitely put me off. And sadly, this is the type of book that many people SHOULD read, and don't. In some ways my frustration was really not about the time skips but rather what the author had to go through. While it's great his lectures and talks have been so well-received, it's also symptomatic of an ongoing issue: Virji is the one making the efforts, the talks, the labor. He relates a story earlier in the book where the boyfriend of a patient makes it abundantly clear that he does not want Virji anywhere near the patient. It escalates to the point where hospital security get involved and Virji's boss tells him he must go through mediation with the boyfriend. The boyfriend never apologizes (really, he only makes vague sentiment of contrition because security was involved) and the entire interaction made me want to scream: the BF was clearly dangerous to other people who don't have hospital security backing them up and the boss was completely uncaring of how Virji felt at having to see the boyfriend again in any context. If this book or his talks do help people, great. But it's also a tired trope of marginalized people having to do such labor to educate and I wish the author had pursued this a lot more. I borrowed this from the library and that was best.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    A timely memoir of what it means to be Muslim in contemporary America. In searching for a place to practice compassionate medicine, Dr. Ayaz Virgi moved his family from the Philadelphia suburbs to western Minnesota. All is well until the 2016 presidential election, when the election of Donald Trump stirs up an undercurrent of racism and intolerance. How that affects Virgi, his family, and his community is an important reminder that national movements have local consequences. With the support of A timely memoir of what it means to be Muslim in contemporary America. In searching for a place to practice compassionate medicine, Dr. Ayaz Virgi moved his family from the Philadelphia suburbs to western Minnesota. All is well until the 2016 presidential election, when the election of Donald Trump stirs up an undercurrent of racism and intolerance. How that affects Virgi, his family, and his community is an important reminder that national movements have local consequences. With the support of a local pastor, Dr. Virgi begins a series of lectures to combat the growing racism in America. This book is an expansion of his effort to explain both his religion and the effects the Trump presidency on the American mindset. Recommended.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kelsey

    The message of the book is good, the writing is nothing above and beyond ordinary. Almost an unresolved, incomplete feeling to the structure, which may be intentional. It felt a little repetitious at times, and the one thing I was really interested in reading never showed up: the questions he was asked at his first talk and how he answered them. Not sure exactly who this book is meant to appeal to. I don't know that the people who need it would read it, so does it just become one more voice in t The message of the book is good, the writing is nothing above and beyond ordinary. Almost an unresolved, incomplete feeling to the structure, which may be intentional. It felt a little repetitious at times, and the one thing I was really interested in reading never showed up: the questions he was asked at his first talk and how he answered them. Not sure exactly who this book is meant to appeal to. I don't know that the people who need it would read it, so does it just become one more voice in the echo chamber? I'm not in need of convincing that Muslims are just like everyone else, and that Islam is a peaceful religion, so for me the book does not function in that capacity. Perhaps just not in depth enough for me. I do hope that at least a few people pick this up who want to learn more, and maybe they will.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sheri S.

    I was impressed by this account of a Muslim doctor sharing his faith and how he was impacted by the election of Donald Trump. A successful doctor, he moves to a rural community to help meet the needs of the community. He becomes an integral part of the hospital and the city and enjoys living there...that is, until a new president is elected. At this point, he is angry, afraid of being put on a registry and contemplates moving out of the US with his family. Through collaboration with another reli I was impressed by this account of a Muslim doctor sharing his faith and how he was impacted by the election of Donald Trump. A successful doctor, he moves to a rural community to help meet the needs of the community. He becomes an integral part of the hospital and the city and enjoys living there...that is, until a new president is elected. At this point, he is angry, afraid of being put on a registry and contemplates moving out of the US with his family. Through collaboration with another religious (non-Muslim) leader in his community, he is given the opportunity to explain to community members what being Muslim means, especially that it is a religion of peace. I appreciated the author's description of his faith and how he addresses various myths that the media often propagates.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Federico Echeverry

    Inspiring and necessary With the current social and political landscape this book comes as a love letter from all Muslims, and non-white individuals, to people unsure how to feel about us. It is hard, disheartening and painfully sad to read the struggles of a typical American family just because they are Muslims. That's the reality we all live in, thats the division that one man has brought to this country. This book shall allow anyone, white, immigrant, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, to see the real Inspiring and necessary With the current social and political landscape this book comes as a love letter from all Muslims, and non-white individuals, to people unsure how to feel about us. It is hard, disheartening and painfully sad to read the struggles of a typical American family just because they are Muslims. That's the reality we all live in, thats the division that one man has brought to this country. This book shall allow anyone, white, immigrant, Christian, Muslim, Jewish, to see the real issues that affect real families, to empathize and, hopefully, see beyond our religion or skin color.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Erin (Drink.Read.Repeat)

    *View my reviews at www.drinkreadrepeat.com* November 8, 2016, was my worst birthday ever. Election day has fallen on my birthday only a handful of times. I remember the first. I had gotten a doll whose hair would shrink if you cranked her arm down and regrow of you turned a wheel on her back. I took the doll, still fresh and smelling incredibly plasticky, into the voting booth. My mom talked to me about who she was voting for and let me pull the levers to lock in her choices. On November 8, 2016, *View my reviews at www.drinkreadrepeat.com* November 8, 2016, was my worst birthday ever. Election day has fallen on my birthday only a handful of times. I remember the first. I had gotten a doll whose hair would shrink if you cranked her arm down and regrow of you turned a wheel on her back. I took the doll, still fresh and smelling incredibly plasticky, into the voting booth. My mom talked to me about who she was voting for and let me pull the levers to lock in her choices. On November 8, 2016, I woke up excited. For my birthday this year, I would get a brand new president. Making it even more special, it would be the first woman to hold the office. My husband gifted me white pants to wear when I went to the polls, a nod to the suffragettes. I voted and we went to happy hour, drinking down pitchers of margarita that I assumed would be celebratory but, as it turned out, were just numbing me for a terrible blow. As the night ticked on, it became increasingly clear that I wouldn't be getting my birthday wish. My candidate would lose. And I, along with 65 million others whose votes had mirrored mine, would be devastated. We were upset because we worried about our new president’s divisiveness. We worried that the election of this man, who had led Build the Wall chants and campaigned on the concept of a Muslim registry, would usher in a new era of even bolder hate. And some people, I knew even then, would take much more of the brunt of this newly invigorated, disgustingly public discrimination. While this president was a threat to me because his ideals didn’t reflect my own, he was a much more direct threat to others. People like Ayaz Virji, the co-author of this book. In this work of non-fiction, Virji provides insight into what it’s like to be a Muslim in America. In sharing with readers experiences both prior to, and following, the election of Donald Trump, his implied goal is to build not a wall, but a bridge. And never before was the need for a bridge as obvious as after the 2016 election. While there has, sadly, always existed a subsection of the population who quietly hate those who are different, it’s been decades since hate was as flagrant. This is particularly true in the tiny town that Virji calls home. In rural Dawson, Minnesota, where Virji serves as a community doctor, “Minnesota nice,” has long kept hidden deep prejudices that have presumably always bubbled under the surface. In response to his discovery that his neighbors, perhaps, didn’t love him and his family as deeply as he had always assumed, Virji worked with a local pastor to develop a lecture. “Love Thy Neighbor,” as it would come to be called, was a lecture designed to dispel myths about Islam. To allow the community members who were scared because Virji was different to see that Muslims aren’t so different after all. To replace some of the misinformation, that ran rampant both in the days leading up to the 2016 election and in the years following, with actual fact. But Virji would come to find, frustratingly enough, that not only would some not greet him with open arms, but they also wouldn’t even open their ears to his message. And if we won’t even listen to each other, how can we ever love each other? This book was a distinctive read. A very personal recounting of a ridiculously pervasive problem. And it’s probably the distinctive nature of this book that makes it a difficult one to review. Honestly, the degree to which readers connect to this book will likely depend on how open they are to the information it contains. Just as some attendees to Virji’s talks refused to engage with his message, some will dismiss this book. And… that sucks. Because I do agree with Virji. I do think that we need to focus more on what makes us the same and less on what makes us different. And I hope this is a mutual desire at which we will eventually arrive. My only challenge, in regards to this book, was structural. It was a bit… all over the place. This doesn’t surprise me, though, as in describing the lecture he gave — the lecture after which this book was titled — Virji explained that it was a bit… hectic. It was a talk created by thrusting together bits and pieces of information, following a loose structure from which he often deviated. And that’s what this book felt like as well. It was structured in somewhat chronological order, but, throughout, there were rambling asides. It’s not that it wasn’t effective in communicating the intended message. For the most part, it was. But some of the strength of the content was lost because the book meandered so much. In fairness, part of the problem might have been that I wanted some… happy ending. I wanted some resolution — or at least some comfortable stasis — but this never really came. And, honestly, I understand why. Because, in America, we are far from reaching a place of comfort and acceptance. Now, more than ever, life is tumultuous. And this tumult doesn’t make for the satisfying conclusion that one wants. I do believe, though, that step 1 in reaching that conclusion is opening ourselves up to other’s voices. And one of the voices to which I would recommend readers open themselves is Virji’s. This book received 4 out of 5 cocktails.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kayo

    Powerful. Interesting. Love thy neighbor. Simple statement, but a lot behind it. Great book. Thanks to author, publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free, it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jan Plain

    An important book. Unfortunately, I think he’s “preaching to the choir”. The people who need to hear his story won’t go near it.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Bruce

    By 2016 Dr. Ayaz Virji and his family had been living happily for three years in Dawson, a small town in the SW corner of Minnesota, despite being the town's only Muslims. Dr. Virji's medical practice at the local hospital was going well. The weight-loss clinic he founded was becoming established. His wife, Mussarat, had started a successful skin care business with a growing clientele. The family had made good friendships in the community. Then the 2016 presidential election happened. When he le By 2016 Dr. Ayaz Virji and his family had been living happily for three years in Dawson, a small town in the SW corner of Minnesota, despite being the town's only Muslims. Dr. Virji's medical practice at the local hospital was going well. The weight-loss clinic he founded was becoming established. His wife, Mussarat, had started a successful skin care business with a growing clientele. The family had made good friendships in the community. Then the 2016 presidential election happened. When he learned that 65% of the county had voted for Donald Trump, Dr. Virji felt betrayed, as though his efforts to serve this farming community where everyone knew him had not really mattered. His reaction was anger -- raw, visceral anger, made even stronger when symbols of hate started showing up in the community. He began making plans to leave. Enter the seminary intern at the Lutheran Church who encouraged him instead to consider holding something like a town hall forum to dispel myths and inform the audience what Islam really is about. His "Love Thy Neighbor" lecture in the school auditorium in early 2017 is the center of the book, but woven throughout are details of his life, his marriage, family, decision to move to Dawson to practice what he termed "dignified medicine," the close friendships he made, his enjoyment of small town life, the pleasure of walking to work, having lunch at Wanda's Diner, etc., all of which give the story an everyday quality, a commonality across race, class, and faith that, in turn, I found hopeful of a better future. To me, these parts of the story were the most appealing.

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