Eboo Patel’s Book is Story of a Muslim Growing Up in Chicago Suburbs

His Talk on “Acts of Faith” is a Highlight of First-Year Student Orientation

Bill Clinton called Eboo Patel’s memoir “a beautifully written story of discovery and hope.” The Boston Globe described it as “a Eboo Headshot 2012.jpg shining vision of the possibilities of interfaith cooperation and pluralistic discourse.”  And Christian Century said it’s “the best recent American statement about living one’s faith in a pluralistic society.”

First-year Trinity students will have had the chance to judge for themselves. Patel’s 2010 book, Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation, was required reading before they arrived on campus. Now they will get to hear from the author himself.

Patel, a onetime Rhodes scholar with a Ph.D. in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, will be on hand Friday, August 30 at 4 p.m. in the Koeppel Community Center to address first-year students, as well as other members of the campus community.

The event is free and open to the public. A book signing will follow his presentation.

Patel’s book, a firsthand account of growing up in the suburbs of Chicago as a second-generation Muslim, was chosen in much the same manner as other books for first-year students. In selecting which book is assigned to first-year students, a committee solicits opinions from administrators, staff, alumni, faculty and students and decides two years in advance which book will be read.

According to Beliefnet.com, Patel’s tale “is the same American story that has been told by generations of immigrants who struggle with the competing claims of inherited, adopted, and innate identities.”

As Patel tells the reader in the introduction: “I am an American Muslim from India. My adolescence was a series of rejections, one after another, of the various dimensions of my heritage in the belief that America, India, and Islam could not co-exist within the same being.”

In Acts of Faith, Patel moves from his goal of assimilation to a desire to mask his heritage in high school, to angry pride and radical politics in college, to a resolution of an integrated life.

Publishers Weekly described Acts of Faith as “an autobiography of a young activist [who] captures how an angry youth can be transformed – by faith, by the community and, most of all, by himself – into a profound leader for the cause of peace.”

Named by U.S. News & World Report as one of America’s Best Leaders of 2009, Patel is the founder and president of Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) in Chicago. IFYC is an organization that builds the interfaith movement on college campuses.

In addition to Acts of Faith, which won the Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion, Patel has written Sacred Ground: Pluralism, Prejudice, and the Promise of America. Patel is a regular contributor to The Washington Post, USA Today, The Huffington Post, NPR, and CNN.

He served on President Barack Obama’s inaugural Advisory Council of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Currently, Patel is a member of the Religious Advisory Committee of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Board of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the National Committee of the Aga Khan Foundation USA, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Faith-based Advisory Council.

He has spoken at the TED Conference, the Clinton Global Initiative, the Nobel Peace Prize Forum, and at colleges and universities around the world. Patel is a Young Global Leader in the World Economic Forum and an Ashoka Fellow, part of a select group of social entrepreneurs whose ideas are changing the world.

He was named by Islamica Magazine as one of 10 young Muslim visionaries shaping Islam in America and was chosen by Harvard’s Kennedy School Review as one of five future policy leaders to watch. Both Patelo and IFYC were honored with the Roosevelt Institute’s Freedom of Worship Medal in 2009 and he was recently awarded the Guru Nanak Interfaith Prize, an award given to an individual to enhance awareness of the crucial role of religious dialogue in the pursuit of peace.

Patel lives in Chicago with his wife, Shehnaz Mansuri, and their two sons.