How you approach this book is extremely important. That is because the purpose of this book is not merely to convey information. Rather, the goal is for you, the reader to change and for your doubts to be gone. In order for that to happen you have to stop and have a moment of introspection. Ask yourself why you are reading this book. Is it to refute the ideas presented and show that Islam is false? Is it to casually peruse the content with no hope of your doubts being defeated? Is it to master the material of this book to be able to debate with Ex-Muslims, Non-Muslims and others?
Now, you may be a Muslim who is having doubts, you may be a Non-Muslim who used to be Muslim, you may be a Non-Muslim looking into Islam. Whatever disposition you are coming from, in order for this book to have a transformative effect on you and decimate your doubts, there are some prerequisites you should take seriously. First, you must stand in the possiblity that you will change and your doubts will be gone. Being open to the possibility of self transformation is necessary in order for this book to be meaningful.
Second, in any endeavor we undertake, it is vital to approach the endeavor with humility and not superimpose our intellectual or emotional baggage upon it. Why? Because this is part of our epistemic duty towards knowledge. We are duty bound to knowledge in this way since if we approach it without a humble predisposition, we are setting up unnecessary impediments to the truth.
Let me borrow an example from online marketing to drive this point home. Imagine that you are the owner of a company that sells jeans. Sales have been slow recently and you have decided to try marketing your jeans by using Facebook ads. Setting up these advertisements seems pretty simple. You come up with a “creative” (i.e. picture, video, drawing) that will attract a person to click on your ad, the person clicks on the ad and the ad takes them to your website where the person will buy your jeans. The first interaction with this customer therefore, is with the “creative”. You start working on a great video that’s got some humor in it along with a cute tagline and you are sure it will be a hit. After spending three months toiling over this video, how could it not be a hit? In your mind, you start dreaming about all the people who will see this creative and click on the ad because the video was so good. You show the video to a friend and he likes it. Your friend mentions that his 15 year old son, Josh, has a project for his marketing class in school and asks if you would be interested in having him also come up with a creative for your Facebook ad. After one week, Josh shows you his video and it’s not too great but you promised your friend that you would use it in an ad. So you do something called an A/B test on the ad. This is where you run the ad with both creatives simultaneously to two separate groups. Low and behold, Josh’s video has a click through rate that is 10 times higher than yours. In other words, there are 10 fold more people clicking on his ad than yours. At this point, you can’t imagine that his video is better than yours but the numbers don’t lie. You have a choice: Side with your enemy (your ego) or side with your friend (humility). If you side with your ego and decide to go with your video instead of Josh’s video, you will lose money. Humility is hard but it allows you to accept the truth. Hence, when it comes to the content of this book, in order for it to be efficacious, you have got to make humility your best friend.
The third prerequisite is to understand the difference between abstract knowledge and being. Just acquiring information does not change anyone. It is only when one applies the information to themselves that change can take place. For example, I currently do not have six pack abs. However, I have the intricate knowledge of how to get six pack abs with everything from the precise nutrition to follow to the correct combination of strength training and cardio to apply. There is a difference between knowing and being. With regards to the content of this book, one must internalize and implement it. We will return to the this idea of abstract knowledge vs. being in PART II under the 5th strategy, Study Islam. For now, just having appreciation of the concept will suffice as a prerequisite.