The Torn Veil By Gulshan Esther: Online Book Club Questions & Discussion Summary

Posted at 20:09pm on 6th August 2010

QUESTIONS

  1. What strikes me, immediately, about the author is the sincerity and commitment she shows to her Islamic faith. Are the rituals she conforms to so very different to our own when seen through the eyes of a non-believer?
  2. She makes no complaint about her disability but has complete faith that she will be healed. Can we honestly say that our faith is as strong?
  3. Gulshan Esther says that when she thought of God, no picture arose in her mind P28. Do we have a picture of God?
  4. Islam began in 622. Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac is recorded in the Koran, and sacrifice and tithing are part of the Islamic faith. How is this different to Christian interpretation of the story? P32
  5. Islam means surrender P36. Is this compatible with Christianity?
  6. Gulshan Esther speaks of ‘praying from the heart’ after her father’s death P46. What do you think she means by this?
  7. She learns that Paradise was not, as she had been taught ‘a place of material comforts,’ but the presence of Jesus P82. How do we think of Paradise? Is it an important part of our faith?
  8. Gulshan Esther asks how Islam, based on the Koran, can breed such hatred that her brothers would rather see her dead than tell a truth they didn’t agree with P71/72. Why don’t Christians interpret the verses about ‘hating your mother and father’ in the same way? What, or who, makes the difference?
  9. Can we / should we believe that anyone can be raised from the dead at anytime if they have the faith?
  10. Is it possible to reconcile the exclusive claims of Christianity i.e. ‘no man cometh unto the father except through me’ with the Muslim faith? If so, how?

DISCUSSION SUMMARY

With many of the Book Club members away for various reasons, only a small number met on Thursday at my house. As always, the questions I compiled (above) served only as a prompt, so our discussion did not follow them rigidly – if at all!

LITERARY ASPECTS OF THE BOOK

We began with a debate on the merits of the book from a literary perspective. One member, who was unable to be with us, had previously rung me to tell me how disappointing she had found the narrative. “Too shallow; not enough depth; glossing over momentous experiences as if they were insignificant,” were some of the terms she used to describe her opinion of the writer’s approach. Others felt the style lacked emotional engagement; was clinical; unbelievable; and that they were sceptical about the miracles. “I felt I couldn’t connect with the author,” said one member, “so I felt I didn’t really care what happened to her.”

LIMITATIONS OF GHOST WRITING?

These views prevailed! However, as I pointed out, the story had been ghost-written. Should we, therefore, as readers be criticising the style of the ghost-writer rather than the narrator, I asked? Or perhaps this was the fault of the publishers, in that their contract may have allowed only for 40,000 – 50,000 words? Hearing Gulshen Esther speak, I suggested, might offer a very different depth of experience to her audience than the book does to her readers. (Having been a ghost-writer, myself, I shall be writing more of this in a later blog).

MONOTHEISTIC FAITH

Some of the newer Christians among us admitted to having been surprised to learn that Abraham and other Old Testament characters – not to mention Jesus - figured in the Koran! The question was raised as to whether one could equate the Old Testament God of Abraham with the New Testament God Christians worship?

The answer, we concluded, was that the monotheistic God of Genesis was, actually, the same God of Christian faith. All three elements (beings) of the Trinity were present and active at the point of creation: Creator God (the Father); the Spirit of God that moved upon the waters (Holy Spirit) and the Word spoken by God “Let there be light,” (Jesus). This is affirmed in John 1:1.

THE BIRTH OF ISLAM

Whilst Jews continued to worship the God of Abraham, Islam is a new religion, started by a man named Muhammad (whom Muslim’s call the ‘last prophet’ – thereby negating any future would-be prophets) about 622 years after the birth of Jesus. Previously, most Arabian tribes had worshipped many gods, with one High God (thought to be the God of Abraham) called Allah. Having studied Judaism and Christianity, Muhammad preached a monotheistic religion, which he called Islam, meaning ‘surrender to the will of Allah’. His preaching was not popular among those opposed to the concept of one god. However, according to the BBC website, “by the time Muhammad died in 632AD, most of Arabia had become Muslim, joined up by force, bribes or deals.”

SIMILARITIES & PARTIAL TRUTHS

We felt that there were similarities among many of the faiths in the world: a little truth here; a little there. But we agreed that the exclusive claims of the Messiah: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father except through me,” are hard to reconcile with the claims of those who believe that all roads lead to God.

EXCLUSIVE CLAIMS OF CHRISTIANITY

An interesting comment which I came across in The Guardian online notes that: “The notion that a person born into one group would be good and one born into another bad does not lend itself to a rationalist approach and robs the individual of responsibility of their actions.”

Whilst I could not agree with the entire article, this statement chimes, somewhat, with the views I expressed to my readers’ group. We are ALL made in the image of God. We are, also, ALL subject to what is commonly known as ‘original sin’. It follows, therefore, that ‘goodness’ as well as ‘badness’ is inherent in mankind, regardless of their belief system.

Scripture states that we will be judged by the light we have received. And though belief in Jesus as Saviour does not bring about our salvation (we are called to be followers not merely believers, as even the devil believes) it may be that in ways that are a mystery to us, Jesus will figure in the eleventh hour of those who don’t know him, just as he did to the thief on the cross. However, this in no way absolves us from the great commission “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” Matthew 28:19 – as we are reminded throughout Gulshan Esther’s book.

HATRED & VIOLENCE v LOVE & PEACE

Pages 71 and 72 of the book (question 8 above) speak of the hatred and violence evoked by Islam. This is a view shared by Zarin Koub, a foremost historian of Islam, professor at Baghdad University, and author of the book, History of Religion. Gulshan Esther asks how Islam can breed such hatred that her brothers would rather see her dead than tell a truth they didn’t agree with?

Christianity – as lived and taught by Christ – is, in contrast, a faith of love and peace. Yet it cannot be said that those purporting to be Christians down through the ages have lived by these tenets of belief, as the Crusades and Spanish Inquisition testify all too clearly. Nor, in my opinion, can we trade Biblical verses against those of the Koran. As we agreed, in the readers’ group, the reality of Christian peace and love is dependent upon interpretation, as revealed by the Holy Spirit, and is lived out according to our maturity in the faith.

SACRIFICE: THE HEART OF CHRISTIANITY

One of the most significant parts of the book, for me, was found on page 32 (question 4 above). It appears, from Gulshan Esther’s narrative, that Islam interprets the story of Abraham being asked to sacrifice his son as something for Muslim’s to emulate. (Muslim belief is that the sacrifice was Ishmael, the son of Hagar, Abraham’s wife’s maidservant, whereas Christianity states that it was Isaac, Sarah’s first born, on whom God promised to found a nation).

Christian interpretation – whilst embracing the merit of sacrificial giving (which is supported throughout the New Testament) – focuses far more on the fact that it was God who actually supplied the sacrifice, not Abraham! In other words, a divine sacrifice, not a human one!

For Christians, this points to the sacrifice made by God the Father, in offering his Son, Jesus, to atone for the sins of the world. As Gulshan Esther learns, it is not our sacrifices, or any action on our part that brings about our salvation. Rather, it is God’s sacrifice for us – and our response (reaction) in accepting his gift and surrendering our lives as a living sacrifice to him.

NEW TESTAMENT FAITH TODAY

And this, really, is the wonder and the mystery of the Christian faith that Gulshan Esther discovered when she was found by God! Whether her initial conversion was out of gratitude for her healing (as one book club member suggested) or out of genuine belief in Jesus Christ as her Saviour and Lord, there is no doubting the sincerity of her ultimate calling, and the faithfulness of her discipleship.

Do I still think this book was a compelling read, as I said in my Review? Yes! Despite all its faults and failings, this is a book which – by taking us beyond the comfort zone of 21st Century Western Christianity – presents us with a modern experience of faith as it must have been in Jesus’ time. Do read it, see for yourself, and leave your comments in the box below.

NEXT TIME

The next Book Club meeting is on Thursday 30th September, 2010, when we will be studying a secular book: J.D.Salinger’s The Catcher In The Rye. Further details will appear on My Diary page in due course. For other Book Reviews, see links below.

This article may be reproduced in any non-commercial website, blog or publication on condition that it appears unaltered, in its entirety, and that the following copyright line and bio are prominently displayed beneath it.

© Copyright Mel Menzies: USED BY PERMISSION
Author of a number of books, one a Sunday Times No 4 Bestseller, Mel Menzies is also an experienced Speaker at live events, as well as on Radio and TV. This article, in its original form, can be found at http://www.melmenzies.co.uk/

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Your Comments:

Henry youkhana
18th December 2010
at 3:22am
I just want to know if sister Gulshan Esther have a trip to the U.S.A California ? I realy want to meet her and get her blessing , thank you god bless
Daramola Oluwaseun
28th January 2011
at 10:32pm
I came about this book about 15 years ago, read it and was deeply touched by Sis. Esther's story and conversion. I thought and believed it was going to be very instrumental in Muslim evangelism, therefore gave it to a muslim room mate in the university, but she lost the book, i actually believe the book was destroyed by her or her Muslim group.


I have since been looking for the book at christian bookstores to no avail, until it occurred to me to check online. thanks for this forum. May God bless Sis. Esther and her ministry. I will like to know where she is now and have some clue about her contact, either her e-mail or website. I will still like to get a copy of the book back. thanks.
Mel Menzies
31st January 2011
at 2:44am
Henry, I googled Gulshan Esther but haven't been able to find out about her travelling itinerary. Sorry, I can't answer your question. Perhaps if you asked in your local Christian bookshop they might be able to tell you.
Mel Menzies
31st January 2011
at 2:49am
I'm so sorry, Daramola, that your belief that The Torn Veil was going to make a difference to your Muslim room mate appears not to have been fulfilled. You may be right about the book having been destroyed, but God has a way of working these things out. I heard today that there are many, many wonderful things happening among Muslims who are seeing visions and coming to know Jesus as their Saviour and Lord. Keep praying and though you may not see the answer in this life, perhaps you will one day meet your friend in heaven.


I think the book is available online if you google it.
Maxwell Tennyson A
16th March 2012
at 7:01am
Awesome Testimony & faithful life to Lord Jesus Christ by Sister Gulshan Esther. She is a great Evangelist & I admire for her steadfast faith in Lord Jesus Christ in the midst of persecution. The bravery in her heart shows that the earthly things are nothing compared to the presence of Lord Jesus Christ. God Bless her ministry.......



Fiona Stoneham
3rd September 2012
at 3:10pm
Please can you let me know when Sister Gulsham Esther will be speaking next - I live in the Kent area? Thank you?
10th September 2012
at 4:28pm
You're so right, Maxwell. She is one great lady, with a great Lord.

Fiona, I'm sorry but I'm unable to give you any details about an itinerary. My article was about the discussion of the book by the church book club I lead.
Debbie Ramsaroop
3rd November 2012
at 4:58pm
Is she still alive ? my pastor is blown away by her story and she would live to meet her. I am from Trinidad & Tobago.
26th December 2013
at 1:10pm
i want to download the testmoney of gulshan in written form
7th March 2014
at 9:03pm
Debbie, to the best of my knowledge, Esther Gulshan is still alive. Unfortunately, I don't know where she lives, nor whether she is still travelling or speaking.

Hari, I've been unable to find any evidence of her book in e-format for you to download. Sorry.
Penny Laue
19th August 2015
at 3:51pm
A heartfelt thanks to Gulshan Esther for her amazing story written in bookform and also for her example and testimony.
P.B. BHASKARA RAO
2nd July 2016
at 1:30pm
I went through the book and found it revealing. In fact I used to read the portion of Jesus visiting Gulshan many times, at a time I faced a wall in my career. In 2002 I appeared for Officer's selection and did not take pencil thinking that it would be supplied at the center. But there was no such supply and my colleague gave a stub. And, you may not believe, I was the only candidate selected. After selection in the interview I was posted to Tuticorin, where I was asked to open an office. I went straight to church and prayed - Lord, this place is new, the people are new and the language is new and I was asked to open office; I do not know anything. Please help me Lord. I visited the priest who prayed for me and poured holy water, saying ÿou are prepared for the task. Soon I located a nice building and sent report and within 20 days, this building has become my office -cum- residece for the next 3 and half years.
I got promoted - now in a senior position with a Govt. of India Undertaking.

I just want to correspond with Sis.Gulshan but do not know the address. On internet
I saw her speaking - with both hands and legs ok.

In fact I translated the book Beyond Viel into our local language - Telugu. But kept it myself, since it may require legal steps to obtain permission for printing. I have also freshly translated Torn Veil into Telugu (already one version was available, but I think I use better language - even in Telugu 2/3 kinds of pronounciation and expression are in use. This also I go not go in for print.).

So, thanks to Jesus and Thanks to Gulshan and the authoress who helped to bring
Torn Veil. Namaste.

Even now I feel I am being guided by Lord Jesus
Lisa Dacunha
17th January 2018
at 6:21pm
Hi I am Miss Lisa Da cunha from Goa, India. I being an English Literature student am working on my Masters project on the two books of sister Gulshan Esther, The Torn Veil and Beyond The Veil under the guidance of Dr. Rafael Fernandes through the Goa University, India. I first of all thank the almighty God for putting it in the mind of my guide Dr. Rafael to advise me to work on Gulshan Esther's 'The Torn Veil' and 'Beyond The Veil' and its my great opportunity and privilege to read these two books and work on them for my project.

Yes I do have a prayer life but reading the two books and understanding the truth behind Gulshan Esther experience and seeing its power has brought me more and more closer to JESUS. I Praise Jesus for such an encounter with the Lord. Its all God's plan. I am so much happy and excited about Esther Gulshan's such a wonderful experience and just have a longing and desire in my heart to meet her and talk to her. If not physically present no problem but atleast through chats or video calling with the help of the internet. kindly do grant me her contact of the social media so that I can video chat with her only once in my life.

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