The Stuff of Life

Asif Zaidi

Publisher: iUniverse Pages: 245 Price: (paperback) $13.99 ISBN: 9781532009563 Reviewed: February, 2017 Author Website: Visit »

What is the purpose of our existence? What is the relationship, if any, between faith and reason? What is our duty to our children and our families? In this book of essays, Asif Zaidi, a banker and advisor to business leaders, takes on fundamental questions of meaning and morality.

Zaidi conveys his thoughts in brief essays, ranging over a wide spectrum of topics such as “The Divine Dimension of Man,” “Rational Thought and Religion,” and “On Duty and Parenthood.”

In “Rational Thought and Religion,” for example, the author argues that it’s possible to balance the dictates of religion and science. He believes that religious practice has a valid role to play in terms of how individuals make meaning of their lives, while averring that reason can “foster mediation between different faiths by creating a consensus around the common and the essential.” Zaidi also writes about more day-to-day matters, such as the distractions of our omnipresent devices. He argues that the Internet is a valuable way to stay in touch with family and friends but that it must not replace real-time social interaction.

Zaidi’s approach is moderate and rational. He avoids dogmatism and absolutes, emphasizing that each person must find their own answers. The psychological insight he has gained from his own spiritual life as well as his successful career, balances his work, avoiding the extremes of either ivory tower speculations or bland self-help platitudes.

The author writes in a conversational tone, never falling into jargon, with only small grammatical lapses. His narrative reveals a cultured mind, well-read in the works of many cultures, from Islam to Ancient Greece, while drawing on the wisdom of authors from Ghalib to Dostoyevsky.

Above all, he conveys a refreshing humanism and a lack of alarmism or extremism rare in an increasingly polarized world. Open-minded readers may find in these pages a means of cracking open the doors of perception just a little bit further.

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