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.
Virji (The Skinny Book), a family physician and bariatric specialist practicing in Dawson, Minn., paints a harsh portrait of small-town America following the 2016 presidential elections in this clear-eyed memoir. Virji, of South Indian descent, begins with the story of moving with his family from Pennsylvania to Minnesota in 2013 to manage a hospital and open a weight loss clinic. Once there, Virji quickly makes friends and builds a successful practice. But in 2016, rural Minnesota becomes Trump country, leaving Virji with difficult questions about his place and purpose. Written in powerful vignettes that jump easily from flashback to present, the story revolves largely around a lecture Virji gave to a church, entitled "Love Thy Neighbor," in which he attempts to answer commonly held misconceptions about Muslims. That lecture leads to more lectures, until Virji becomes an in-demand speaker in parts of rural America where Christian religious and political fervor dominate. Virji shows the community work he and many others are doing to combat a negative political climate through education and outreach. This is a vivid account of one man's efforts to make sense of political tensions, racial hatred, and religious misunderstandings.
It’s a good book about being unprejudiced, though the author himself seems to be unaware of his own prejudice. If you read it with an unbiased outlook, especially towards his politics, it’s a decent read.