- Teks review atau teks ulasan merupakan tulisan yang mengulas atau memberi penilaian terhadap suatu karya seperti film, buku, karya sastra, musik, hingga seni. Teks review bahasa Inggris maupun bahasa Indonesia tidak memiliki banyak perbedaan karena sama-sama memuat opini dari penulis ulasan terhadap sebuah karya.

Tujuan dari dibuatnya teks review adalah menginformasikan pada pembaca mengenai kualitas yang dimiliki oleh sebuah karya. Dengan demikian, pembaca bisa memutuskan apakah akan menikmati karya tersebut atau tidak. Jika hasil ulasan bernilai positif, maka bisa menjadi sarana publikasi atau promosi karya tersebut dengan lebih mudah pada khalayak. Namun, apabila hasilnya negatif, maka bisa berdampak buruk pada publikasi karya tersebut.

Terdapat beberapa grammar (tata bahasa) yang biasanya muncul di teks review. Grammar tersebut, diantaranya adalah present tense, adjectives (kata sifat), long and complex clauses, serta metaphor. Selain itu, teks review juga memiliki sejumlah struktur, yakni introduction, evaluation, dan evaluative summation.

Introduction atau perkenalan merupakan bagian yang menginformasikan pembaca mengenai gambaran umum, seperti nama karya, latar belakang, maupun tujuan dari dibuatnya karya tersebut. Pada bagian ini, pastikan pembaca bisa mendapatkan gambaran umum dari karya yang akan diulas. Pada bagian evaluation, penulis bisa memberikan penilaian terhadap sebuah karya yang berisi tentang keunikan, kelebihan, dan kekurangan dari sebuah karya. Bahkan, penulis ulasan juga bisa membuat perbandingan antara karya satu dengan karya lainnya di bagian evaluation.

Pada bagian evaluative summation, memuat tentang kesimpulan dari ulasan atau review yang telah diberikan. Penulis ulasan bisa memberikan kritikan terhadap karya tersebut. Selain itu, penulis ulasan juga berhak untuk merekomendasikan apakah karya yang diulasnya layak untuk dinikmati oleh publik atau tidak.

Supaya kamu lebih memahami lagi seperti apa teks review Bahasa Inggris, kamu bisa membaca beberapa contoh teks review. Nah, berikut rangkum dari berbagai sumber, Rabu (19/1), inilah contoh teks review bahasa Inggris yang bisa menambah pemahamanmu.

1. Teks review bahasa Inggris tentang film Joker

teks review bahasa Inggris © 2022


Film credits

Release date : October 2, 2019 (Indonesia)

Director : Todd Phillips

Cast : Joaquin Phoenix, Robert De Niro, Zazie Beetz, Frances Conroy

The year’s biggest disappointment has arrived. It emerges with weirdly grownup self-importance from the tulip fever of festival awards season as an upscale spin on an established pop culture brand. Last year we had Luca Guadagnino’s solemn version of Suspiria, and now it’s Joker, from director and co-writer Todd Phillips: a new origin myth for Batman’s most famous supervillain opponent.

Joaquin Phoenix plays Arthur Fleck, a pathetic loser and loner in Gotham City, some time in the early 1980s. Arthur is a former inpatient at a psychiatric facility but is now allowed to live with his elderly mother, Penny (Frances Conroy), in her scuzzy apartment. Poor Arthur has a neurological condition that means he is liable to break into screeching laughter at inopportune moments. He has a crush on his single-mom neighbour Sophie (Zazie Beetz) and pines to be a comedian, hero-worshipping cheesy TV host Murray Franklin (Robert De Niro). But he can only get a job as a clown in grinning makeup and floppy-toed shoes twirling an advertising banner outside a store, where he is bullied and beaten up by young thugs passing by. One day, after the humiliation and despair become too much to bear, Arthur gets hold of a gun and discovers that his talent is not for comedy but violence.

Phillips has already directed a film featuring a brilliant unfunny-funny figure with learning difficulties: Alan in The Hangover, played by Zach Galifianakis, that strange dysfunctional figure who mispronounces the noun “retard”. I wonder what Joker would be like with Galifianakis in the lead. Well, the casting of Phoenix indicates more clearly how sexy Joker is supposed to be.

There is great production design by Mark Friedberg, some tremendous period cityscape images by cinematographer Lawrence Sher, and a strong performance by Phoenix, though not his best – it is not as good as his appearance in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. The film holds your attention up until Joker’s terrible revenge bloodbath on the subway early on, perhaps intended to echo the notorious Bernhard Goetz shooting of 1984 – although Phillips prudently makes it a non-racist attack. After this, the film loses your interest, with tedious and forced material about Joker’s supposed triggering of an anti-capitalist, anti-rich movement with protesters dressing as clowns. Joker’s own criminal and serial-killer career bafflingly fizzles.

The film makes reference to movies from around the drama’s era, such as the Death Wish films, The French Connection and maybe even Star Wars, but it’s more obviously a laborious and pointless homage to the Scorsese/De Niro classic The King of Comedy with a bit of Taxi Driver, which means that at various moments it’s a bit like The King of Comedy and Taxi Driver, only not as good.

The connection is signalled by the casting of De Niro himself, but it is nonetheless unearned and pedantic, especially compared to Lynne Ramsey’s You Were Never Really Here, also starring Phoenix as a loner living with his mom, which managed the connection more adroitly.

The whole idea of the malign clown should be very relevant. We live in an era of trolling, incels and internet bullying. (The grisly Milo Yiannopoulos described himself as a “supervillain” on his now cancelled Twitter bio.) There’s nothing wrong and everything right with engaging with all of this – and the “copycat” row is a red herring. But, perhaps because online aggression is difficult to dramatise, Phillips understandably wanted his film to be set in a pre-web age. Yet he cheats an anachronistic quasi-YouTube moment into his story when a video of Arthur’s catastrophic attempt at standup comedy somehow emerges. (I wonder if there wasn’t an earlier, contemporary-set draft of the script.)

This Joker’s genesis is determinedly mature and uncartoony, compared to, say, Jack Nicholson’s low-level crook Jack Napier falling into a chemical vat in Tim Burton’s Batman, turning him into the Joker with white skin, green hair and a rictus grin. (The look of DC’s Joker was originally inspired by Conrad Veidt in the 1928 silent classic The Man Who Laughs, a man whose face was disfigured into a grin by his father’s political enemies.)

There is no reason why Phoenix’s elaborately backstoried Joker shouldn’t be as powerful as Heath Ledger’s mysterious, motiveless, originless Joker in The Dark Knight. But at some stage the comic-book world of supervillaindom has to be entered, and Ledger was more powerful because he wasn’t weighed down with all this realist detail and overblown ironic noir grandeur, and he wasn’t forced to carry an entire story on his own. This Joker has just one act in him: the first act. The film somehow manages to be desperately serious and very shallow.


2. Teks review bahasa Inggris tentang film Parasite

teks review bahasa Inggris © 2022


Film credits

Release date : June 21, 2019 (Indonesia)

Director : Bong Joon-ho

Cast : Choi Woo-shik, Yeo-jeong Cho, Park Seo-joon, Park so-dam

‘Parasite’s’ opening shot of a small glass window looking up from a basement house to the view of a narrow winding road, sets the visual language of the film firmly, right at the onset. There are many more such shots which metaphorically convey the social and economic disparity that is the central theme of this film. Especially the use of stairs going up and down, cramped spaces versus lush, open green lawns, delectably and elegantly laid out fruit slices as opposed to a clumisly heaped plate of food from a local kitchen.

Kim Ki-taek (Song Kang-ho) and his family live in a pokey, underground house and are generally unemployed. When we meet them, the family is perturbed that their access to free wifi has been cut short. Obviously not able to afford their own, they have been sponging off their neighbor’s connection. In fact, even as a fumigation carried out on their street, Kim tells his family to leave the windows open so they can have a free extermination of the insects in their house, despite almost choking on the fumes. On some days, they get by with temporary jobs like fixing pizza boxes. So when his son Kim Ki-woo (Choi Woo-shik) is offered by a friend to be set up as an English tutor to the daughter of a wealthy Mr. Park (Lee Sun-kyun), he agrees. Only hitch, Kim Ki-woo doesn’t have a college degree having failed his university exams. But his sister, Kim Ki-jeong (Park So-dam) presents a quick solution to this with her expert photo-shopping skills. Armed with a forged degree document, Kim makes an easy impression on Mr.Park’s wife, Yeon-kyo (Cho Yeo-jeong) and their teenage daughter, Park Da-hye (Jung ji-so). There’s also their nine-year-old son, Park Da-song (Jung Hyeong), scampering around the house, who Yeon-kyo believes has untapped potential as an artist. With one foot firmly inside the Park household, Kim Ki-jeong craftily places his sister as Da-song’s art teacher cum therapist. Yeon-kyo's naivety and gullible nature makes this inclusion quite smooth. Soon with some careful scheming, fake identities and a well-rehearsed plan even his parents, Kim Ki-taek and Chung sook (Chang Hyae-jin) are employed in the household.

It seems like a flawless plan with the Kim family settled into their new found roles and the sunlit, lavish mansion of the Park family giving it the perfect backdrop. But just like that, director Bong Joon-ho’s screenplay springs upon us unexpected plot twists and a thrilling run up to a grisly yet astounding climax. Through a well-crafted maze of events the prevalent class conflict and social disparity come to the fore. The Kim’s are often shown huddled together as a family, gobbling away at their meals and the Park’s are often in their own expansive rooms, almost isolated from each other. In a telling scene, when Mr. Park discusses Mr.Kim’s smell that wafts through the car when he drives, ‘crossing the line’ and reaching the backseat, he describes it as an ‘old rag that has been boiled’ and ‘that smell that people who travel in the subway have’. It’s evident there is unspoken disdain is on both ends, as Chung sook quips how Yeon-kyo is ‘nice because she is rich.’

With not a moment that seems unnecessary or extra, ‘Parasite’ is exceptionally well-paced and edited (Yang Jin-mo). Director Bong Jon-ho masterfully constructs stylized, dramatic sequences set to a brilliant background score (Jung Jae-il) as the film rapidly moves from one plot point to another. It results in a gripping yet poignant watch. The ensemble cast enhance the proceedings with superlative performances, especially Song Kang-ho, Park So-dam and Choi Woo-shik.

With an insightful and searing exploration of human behavior, ‘Parasite’ is a masterfully crafted film that is a definite must watch.


3. Teks review bahasa Inggris tentang novel The Alchemist

teks review bahasa Inggris © 2022


First publication : 1988

Author : Paulo Coelho

Pages : 208

Genre : Quest, adventure, fantasy

This work of wonder was penned by the Brazilian author and lyricist Paulo Coelho in 1988, and went on to become one of the world’s best-selling books in history. Known for his fictional and fantastical storytelling, the novel that is an allegory narrates the the tale of Santiago, a lowly shepherd boy tending to his flock in the hills of Andalusia in Spain and his journey to the pyramids of Egypt after dreaming daily about finding treasure there. The young boy desired more out of life rather than merely tending sheep all day long. Although he enjoyed watching over his flock and herding them, he believed that there was so much more he could be doing to achieve success in his life. He understood that he had more purpose in life and there are treasures that are his to be discovered.

It begins with Santiago having recurrent dreams which he is unable to interpret. Following a meeting with a gypsy, he seems to have an idea as to the interpretation of his dream. Along the way, he meets many different characters such as a king, a ‘woman of the desert’, a shopkeeper and an alchemist, all of whom are placed in his life to teach him valuable lessons.

Simultaneously, the book follows their life journey as they are in search of their own destiny. Santiago decides to embark on this journey of self-discovery, in the hope of reaching his destiny. He travels from his home in Spain, into the markets of Tangiers and embarks on the long trek through the great desert of Egypt. He encounters some encouragements and discouragements along the way, learns a new language, gets entangled in some very sticky situations, makes some friends and meets some thieves. He loses everything during the course of this journey but nevertheless manages to recover all he has lost and gains much more, by simply shifting his attitude and being resilient.

The few words that describe this book are positivity, faith, destiny and strength. How the narrative of your life can be changed, by simply taking the step towards your goals and dreams. Sometimes, we get so caught up in our lives just trying to survive, we forget about our true calling and our dreams take a backseat.

The book resonates with a tone that says only those who truly want to achieve something can, and those who persevere to learn everything they can, certainly will. “There is only one way to learn and that is through converting one's dream into action.” The story, although fictional, explains lucidly how one should take on life and follow his/her dreams. The powerful conversations, the beautiful story settings and the overall philosophical reiterations, make this book an undeniably engrossing read for anyone looking for a great story with profound meaning. “You have everything inside of you to reach your dreams, you only need to follow your heart”

The message from the Alchemist that says “And, when you want something all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” holds so true in this story as well as in the story of our lives, what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger. Nothing worth having ever comes easy and it always involves tremendous sacrifices. In the case of the shepherd, he had to sell his beloved flock of sheep in order to pursue his dream.

It must be understood that failure is a stepping stone to success and is a part of the process in the journey of self-discovery towards achieving one’s dream. Ultimately, failure is not an option, the key to becoming the best version of yourself lies in your hands. If you dream it, then you can become it, as in the case of the young boy, you will encounter many obstacles that you didn’t anticipate. However, each obstacle is a stepping stone that presents an opportunity to build on and draw you one step closer towards realizing your dream.

The secret of success is that although you fall seven times, you rise the eighth time. Perseverance and persistence are the key principles for achieving success. The key to happiness and living a fulfilled life is to pursue your dreams passionately with all your heart and to refuse to allow any person or situation to deter you from your goal. The key to happiness is achieving the satisfaction of fulfilling your dream and living your destiny in life.


4. Teks review bahasa Inggris tentang buku Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

teks review bahasa Inggris © 2022


First publication : 2011

Author : Yuval Noah Harari

Pages : 443

Genre : Non-fiction

One of the hallmarks of modern communication is the glossy, well-illustrated general science based histories of the origins of our species. Following in the tradition of Jacob Brownowski’s The Ascent of Man, Carl Sagan's Dragons of Eden, and Jared M. Diamond's Guns, Germs, and Steel, Yuval Noah Harari offers Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.

Seemingly, every week some announcement on changing views about human history arrives, often to disappear as quickly, making these new works so important. Sapiens, for example, summarizes much of the latest learned from thoughtful reasoning as well as archaeology and technological advances. As the author writes about the latest “findings” in DNA, however, “further research is underway and will either reinforce or modify these conclusions.”

Harari here asks why Homo sapiens, of all of the members of their species, alone survived and then triumphed to reach the top of the food chain. He wonders if humanity will continue to move forward to astounding triumphs or to its destruction, the same points famously raised in Carl Sagan's Cosmos and Michael Wood's Empires.

Some of the human origins books draw criticism for shallow research, confused organization, and lack of coherent logical conclusions. This new work, however, achieves much in purpose, relevance, and organization. Harari clearly outlines the issues and makes no claim of anyone having all of the answers.

Sapiens also challenges that human, western civilization, and world history have all become too complicated, large, and cumbersome in an age of unreason versus political correctness to serve as subjects for at least survey courses. Not the children’s little golden book of human history, this book serves as an introductory school textbook to the complexity of who we are.

This book lends itself to class discussions. Individual chapters and subsections push the reader into the various circumstances shared with other species but from which humans have developed tools both unique and necessary to serve the human gift of vision. The most common theories appear next, followed with ideas on what may come next.

Educators who argue that students need more than ever to see a global all-encompassing history might applaud the publication of Sapiens or they might condemn it as too abbreviated. The prose sometimes does come across as too casual, simplistic, and even flippant. Harari writes with terse, modern, simple, short paragraphs suitable to Internet-era attention span.

The author does present the important ideas punctuated with brief, relevant examples given. The He explains sound, for example, as serving practical purposes for many species, but “only Sapiens can talk about entire kinds of entities that they have never seen, touched, or smelled.” Important notes noted in passing include the value of gossip; human extermination of animals on islands like Australia; most plants and animals cannot be domesticated; the imperial basis of the modern world; and the trap of luxuries.

Structure is critical in this work from the beginning. The author sets out to explore humanity chiefly through the Cognitive Revolution some 70,000 years ago, the Agricultural Revolution circa 12,000 years in the past, and the Scientific Revolution of the last five centuries.

Harari’s Homo sapiens appear slow in developing at least because they alone have somewhere to go. Much of how we came to be remains unknown, a “curtain of silence shrouds tens of thousands of years of history.” Humans, however, make up for their perceived shortcomings in the broad number of ways wherein they simultaneously adopt and more than change.

Even if intended by the purchaser as an accessory for decorating a room, Sapiens can produces thought on the things that matter and in manageable bytes to anyone. Although designed for a popular audience Sapiens is also for the new student of the broadest history imaginable.

The accidental as well as the deliberate reader will have to think—and that means much in the 21st century.


5. Teks review bahasa Inggris tentang lagu Heal The World

teks review bahasa Inggris © 2022


Artist : Michael Jackson

Album : Dangerous

Released: 1991

Heal The World is one of Mellow's songs popularized by Michael Jackson or often dubbed 'King of Pop'. The song was released in 1991 on an album entitled "Dangerous". Heal The World in Indonesian means Healing the Earth. The song lasted 6 minutes 22 seconds is about us who must make the earth a better place for our children and grandchildren later. This song calls for peace and the call to live based on love and affection among human beings.

At the beginning of this song, there was a little boy who read a poem. He thinks about the younger generation, the younger generation say they want to make the world a better place for their children and grandchildren. He thinks they can make it a better place.

The Earth can become much brighter if you really try. You will not find anything to weep, no sorrow or sorrow. This song explains that there are so many ways to achieve it, if you care about life. Michael Jackson invites us all to heal the world, for you and all mankind.

If we try, we will see in this happiness we can not feel fear or horror. Love alone is enough for this world to grow. The lyrics tell us that there will not be a good world if the war continues. War continues to occur, ranging from tribal wars, religion, until the international war even today. People are selfish, selfish, and too demanding of position or position. They do not care about their brothers, there is no sense of kinship and friendship anymore. However, Michael Jackson still assumes that everyone in this world is his brother. We must not discriminate against race, ethnicity, religion or economic background even until hostilities occur. This song wants no longer racist in this world.

The dream we have imagined, will dribble the face of joy. The world we have believed, will once again shine in beauty. But why, we continue to strangle life, injure the world, and crucify his soul. Although it looks simple, but this world is part of heaven. Be the sheen of God, we must be grateful for all the blessings from God.

We can be high, do not let our souls die, do not let our spirit goes out. Let us create peace and a better life in this world without fear. Together we will cry happily to see the countries replacing their swords with peace. Michael Jackson believes that we can all really achieve peace if we all care about life.

Besides having a deep meaning, this song also feels comfortable to hear because it has the strains of a touching tone. This song can also be said to be one of the all-time pop songs that will continue to be remembered until whenever. This song is still often used in news - news about the events on earth and during the events - the event of peace. Unfortunately, the duration of this song is too long so listeners can be bored. At the end of the song, the song reff is also repeated many times. I think this is less efficient because reff songs are sung too often.

However, overall this song is really a song that has deep meaning and is needed for the people of Indonesia today. Given the current little riot between religious followers who held a demonstration on 4 November 2016 yesterday. I hope they soon reconcile. This song gives me the motivation to continue to keep the earth for me, all mankind, and our children and grandchildren later.


6. Teks review bahasa Inggris tentang lukisan Mona Lisa

teks review bahasa Inggris © 2022


Artist : Leonardo da Vinci

Dimensions : 77 cm x 53 cm

Created : 1503

Medium : Oil on poplar panel

Subject : Lisa Gherardini

Despite being the world’s most famous painting, a profound skepticism still surrounds the woman with the enigmatic smile. Fascinating, intriguing and mysterious; the Mona Lisa is still discussed animatedly today, offering a vital insight into the Renaissance period. She is known and recognized worldwide, and admirers travel from every corner of the globe to see her. Thousands of eager eyes peruse the painting daily, absorbing da Vinci’s well-guarded masterpiece. To celebrate this iconic painting, Artsper’s taking you back in time to find out more about the woman behind the smile.


The painting should have been completed in 1503, but the painter never let it out of his sight; never truly ‘finishing’ the painting until his death in 1519. When da Vinci left Italy to become King Francis I’s protégé, he took the Mona Lisa with him. Shortly before his death, da Vinci sold the painting to King Francis I for 4,000 gold coins, and it remained a part of the royal collections during the reign of Louis XIV. Before it joined the permanent collection of the Louvre, Napoleon Bonaparte requested the painting for Josephine’s personal apartments.

Like the majority of the museum’s pieces, the Mona Lisa had to be stored securely during the two World Wars. Louvre curator, René Huyghe, saved the painting from the Nazis by hiding it under his bed. Despite her tumultuous travels in previous years, André Malraux’s insisted the Mona Lisa leave Europe for the United States. There, she was received by President John F. Kennedy in 1962. Now too fragile to travel, the Mona Lisa remains in the Louvre where she is visited by thousands everyday.

The Model

The Mona Lisa, like the rest of da Vinci’s paintings, was never signed or dated. When it comes to the identity of the mysterious Mona Lisa, it is Giorgio Vasari’s theory that is considered the most official. “Mona” derives from the Italian term “Monna” meaning “lady,” suggesting Lady Lisa to have been Lisa Gherdinini, the wife of Francesco Del Giocondo. It is widely believed that Giocondo, a cloth and silk merchant, commissioned the painting of his wife but never received it. However a widespread scepticism surrounds this theory. Many are doubtful of the story’s authenticity, and are still searching for the Mona Lisa’s true identity. Italian historian, Roberto Zapperi, accused Giorgio Vasari of inventing this claim, and that the Mona Lisa is actually a portrait of Pacifica Brandani. Brandani was the mistress of Giuliano de’ Medici, son of Lorenzo de’ Medici.

The identity of the Mona Lisa remains an animated discussion amongst art historians, and has even become the root of some more far-fetched theories. Some of the most creative claims suggest the Mona Lisa is a prostitute, da Vinci’s mother or even a man ( Leonardo’s apprentice, Salai). Others are convinced the Mona Lisa is a portrait of the 15th century Duchess of Forli, Catherine Sforza. Attempts have even been made to reconstruct Lisa Gherardini’s face from her skull, to then superimpose onto da Vinci’s portrait. Even though these attempts were unsuccessful, Lisa Gherardini was still formally identified as the Mona Lisa.

The Face

Her profound gaze follows you around the room, and her expression is a source of fascination to many. After 500 years of watching her visitors, the Mona Lisa has maintained ironclad eye contact with all those who let themselves be absorbed by her mocking smile. Art historians have again proposed various theories for this fascination with the Mona Lisa. Medical hypotheses are the most common; where dental issues, facial paralysis and even thyroid problems are at the root of the Mona Lisa’s captivating aesthetic. The particularity of the Mona Lisa’s face could simply be due to fading colour over the centuries. One theory charmingly claimed the Mona Lisa’s facial expression is a result of entertainers who made the model laugh during the painting; allowing da Vinci to capture this unique and slightly stifled smile.

The Technique

A major study at the beginning of the 21st century provided a better understanding of Leonardo da Vinci’s famous sfumato technique. “Sfumato” means “soft” in Italian, which accurately describes the delicate, hazy and slightly blurred effect of da Vinci’s painting. Subjects are coated in a cloud of carefully blended colour and subtle gradations. The Mona Lisa is made up of approximately twenty light layers of paint, some of which are extremely thin. As a result of this meticulous work, the surface of the painting shows absolutely no trace of brush strokes. Despite its epic age, the Mona Lisa is rather well preserved. However, infrared analyses have discovered that certain pigments and in particular Mona Lisa’s eyebrows, have faded over the centuries.

An Icon

One morning in 1911, visitors were shocked to discover that the Mona Lisa had disappeared from the Louvre. News of the painting’s disappearance spread like wildfire, and fingers were quick to point at Pablo Picasso and his friend, Guillaume Apollinaire. However, the Mona Lisa was actually stolen by Vincenzo Peruggia, an Italian carpenter, who kept the painting on his kitchen table for two years before it was found. This had an astronomical impact on the public, all because Peruggia was under the false understanding that the Mona Lisa was one of the paintings stolen by the Napoleonic army. Throughout the history of art, her smile has inspired artists such as, Marcel Duchamp, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, Banksy and Okuda. Even today, a considerable number of contemporary artists still appropriate this mythical portrait in their works.

Leonardo da Vinci truly put his heart and soul into this iconic painting. Many claim the portrait is physically aging, as the left side of her face appears younger than the right. Perhaps this was intentional, and da Vinci’s mastery managed to convey a painting who would quite literally age with the hundreds of generations she observed.


7. Teks review bahasa Inggris tentang buku Secrets of Divine Love

teks review bahasa Inggris © 2022


Publication : 2020

Author : A. Helwa

Pages : 385

“When the divinely aligned heart is the king of the body and the mind is its servant, we live in peace and harmony” – A. Helwa

Who doesn’t long for peace of mind and heart in this painful world? Is that not what we all seek and strive for? But is this state really possible to attain before we reach our eternal resting place of Jennah? Indeed “our longing for something that this world has not been able to fulfill is the greatest evidence for a world beyond this realm.”

But what if a sense of peace was a possibility in the here and now? Secrets of Divine Love discusses the inner depths of the rituals of Islam, revealing their meaning and philosophy, helping to guide us to a different and profoundly empowering view of the Almighty and ultimately our own reality. “Life is not about reaching heaven after we die, it is about dwelling in the palace of God’s eternal presence while you are living.”

With the prominence and ever-increasing popularity of inspiring and positive personalities like Sheikh Javad Shomali and Sayed Hussain Makke, we already find ourselves drawn to a different perspective of Allah that we may not have grown up with. The spotlight shifted from the Justice of Allah that sees all of creation being held accountable for their deeds to balancing this with His endless mercy and kindness.

“The human mind will always venture to limit God’s omnipresence, transcendent, and mysterious nature into a form or formula that can be understood. Rumi remarks on this inclination through the following poem: the truth was a mirror in the hands of God. It fell and broke into pieces. Everybody took a piece of it and thought they had the truth.”

We knew the kindness was always there, and recite Al-Rahman Al-Raheem several times a day, but this had become somewhat out of focus. Many of us would have grown up feeling the restrictions and duties placed on us by religion compromised and negated our freedoms but were necessary for us to reach our ultimate goal – Heaven and Allah’s pleasure. But what we had been missing is the certitude that in this very journey lies our own pleasure too.

“Ramadan teaches us how discipline and boundaries don’t restrict our freedom, but actually lay the foundation for true freedom. Our addictions enslave us. Our attachments to our desires enslave us.” Helwa writes:

Our religion is not our destination, but the practices, principles, and teachings of Islam are necessary provisions on the path to Allah.”

Through our endless material pursuits in this world, it can be easy to be heedless of our need for Allah and our supreme reliance on him. But we find something is always missing, a hole of longing: “The hole we carry inside, that we so desperately long to fill, comes from the experience of once being unified with all of existence.”

The book is studded with deep, thought-provoking, and carefully chosen quotes from scholars, mystics, and poets of all faiths. For example: “Enlightenment is when a wave realises it is the ocean”, says Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen Buddhist master.

Released at the outset of the pandemic, which has unveiled the undeniable truth that nothing is in our hands, not health, not wealth, and not well-laid plans, this book emerged at an opportune time to inspire us with the profound lesson of relinquishing control to Allah and “giving up our limitations and pictures of how reality should be, to become receptive to everything that God wants to create through us.” Since “as long as our happiness is dependent on things we cannot control, we will never experience contentment… [but] when we accept that we have no control over the future and rely entirely on God, we feel peace.”

She not only describes the endless love and mercy of Allah towards all his creatures, but her proofs and evidence form a loving embrace that reassures and comforts the reader to aspire to reach their potential with the tender support of Allah’s presence with us at every step: “God’s mercy accepts us as we are, but He loves us too much to let us stay the same.” Maybe this is why Imam Al-Sadiq has said: Is iman anything but love?

The book explores our roles as human beings, not through our eyes but through the eyes of the Creator. Studded with beautiful gems and words of wisdom, it is hard to deny the overwhelming feeling of love and belonging. “You are an everlasting spirit held in the mortal embrace of clay. You are not a human being meant to be spiritual, you are a spiritual being living this human being miracle”, writes the poet Aru Barzak.

The book explores the primary rituals of Islam giving us a deeper appreciation and understanding of them. “Prayer (salat) brings to light your false idols’ since the outer form can be misaligned and contradictory with the inner state…one prayer to God frees you from a thousand prostrations to your ego.”

In exploring the depths of fasting she writes: “When we are asked to restrain the ego, our addictions reveal themselves, giving us the awareness we need to break free from them. When we can no longer dull the pain of our emptiness with outer forms, we are forces to search for the root of our longing.” The author also delightfully describes the Quran as “a lullaby for the spirit and an alarm for the ego.” This is because “it interrupts the negative patterns of our worldly conditioning by shedding light on the places where we resist divine union with God…parts of the Quran will trigger you, because this revelation is like a pure mirror.”

She adds that, "The Quran is not a destination or wall, it is a window, it provides us a view into the essence of Allah."

If we are content to merely recite the Quran at speed with the aim of completing a chapter or page, we are denying ourselves the endless bounties and benefits: “The Quran is not meant to be recited, it is meant to be taken in like the fragrance of a rose deep within our essence.” The depth and psychology of this book have many a time caused me to read and re-read statements to take them in fully. The reason it is so empowering is that it is all about our own receptivity and inner state.

"We do not see the world as it truly is, but through the state that our heart is in. Our sins can become a blindfold over our spiritual eyes … a drop of rain can fall into the mouth of a seashell or a snake, but in a sea shell, it turns into a pearl and in a snake it turns into poison.” - Imam Ali

This inner state can be enhanced and purified with tawba (repentance) which “purifies our heart so that Allah’s light can penetrate our soul, giving us divine insight.” A. Helwa discussed the significance of tawba through a dedicated chapter with practical tips. She writes: “Repentance is the act of emptying and breaking all the idols and gods we have placed in the sanctuary of our hearts before the one true God…the practice of tawba is a means of spiritual course correction, in which we align our hearts and intention towards Allah.”

She explores the relatively newly articulated concept of ‘self-talk’ as well as the age-old struggle within ourselves: “Beneath the noise of our desires and the whispers of temptation there resides an innately good essential self (fitra).”

The author asks us to be open and to forgive others “not because someone deserves it, but because our hearts deserve peace…as lovers of God we are called to reflect the divine loving qualities upon all people without discrimination.” This includes allowing for others to make mistakes as we do in our endeavour to move towards perfection.

Hajj is a perfect example of this acceptance of others for it nurtures a collective sense of unity as “fear and bias tend to be changed not through facts and data, but rather through relationships… [Hajj] is a spiritual journey that calls us to contemplate how attached we are to this life and how ready we are for death.” The rituals call us to shed our ego along with our comforts and recognise how needy and how dependent we are on the mercy of our Lord.

In the beautiful exploration of death, A. Helwa reveals the fear of death as a “sign that we are holding on to something other than Allah.” Our view of death is erroneously narrow and negative: “Death is not extinguishing the light; It is only putting out the lamp because the dawn has come.” In Western society, we have come to misunderstand death, to fear it, and avoid discussing it. But A. Helwa argues "It is not death that we fear, what we fear is not living the life we know we were created to live."

This is perhaps one reason the Day of Judgment is sometimes termed Yom il-hasra (the day of longing). However, this is not to say we must not enjoy the bounties of this life, we can “love the passing fruits of this beautiful earth, but Allah reminds us to hold these gifts in our hands instead of our hearts” since “what we worship depends on where we direct our attention.”

Imam Ali says: “Aim to live in this world without allowing the world to live inside of you, because when a boat sits on water, it sails perfectly, but when the water enters the boat, it sinks.”

This book speaks to our very fears and insecurities, it offers a reassuring hug and wills us to keep going, to unveil the layers shielding our eyes from Allah’s love and mercy: “We must be honest with how we feel, because we cannot receive God’s deep healing if we continuously avoid facing our pain.”

The Prophet Muhammed (SAWA) said: “Adorn yourself with divine qualities.”

Through practicing and reflecting the attributes of Allah, “both men and women are called to be the mirrors of God on earth.” This is what it means to be a khalifah (deputy) of Allah, for “our work on earth is not to become something different but to awaken from the illusion that we are separate from what we seek.”

Interestingly, the author has chosen to remain anonymous. Perhaps in an effort to secure true sincerity or possibly to allow the book to be appreciated on its own merit without association with, and judgment of, the author’s background, faith, or sect. Either way, it adds to the mystery and enigma.

She offers mindfulness strategies to enhance awareness of our blind spots and our veils from the mercy of the creator, for it is only in removing these veils can we fully appreciate and experience the beauty and connection with Allah (SWT).

I really enjoyed this book which offered a much needed positive outlook at this time encompassing our human past, presence, and future. It is not one to be read at speed for ‘top tips’ but the depth means it is to be taken in slowly, ideally not in the sleepiness before sleep, but rather while alert and enjoyed in a comfy chair with a hot drink!