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About Islam

Part 2: Beliefs about Islam, expressed by Muslims

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This topic is a continuation from the previous essay

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A book containing personal descriptions by 40 Muslim-American women of their lives and dreams:

 Image of book cover Maria M Ebrahimji & Zahra T Suratwala, Editors, "I Speak for Myself: American Women on Being Muslim" White Cloud Press, (2011) Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store

Webmaster's note: I found this book fascinating. It contains the personal stories of 40 young Muslim women born in the U.S. and includes their conflicts over clothing, living within a minority religion in an overwhelmingly Christian culture, combatting the restrictive expectations of women expressed by many Muslims, overcoming hostility -- particularly after 9/11, etc. There is no better way to understand Muslims in America than to read personal stories of young adults.

According to the review: "Muslim American women are the subject of endless discussions regarding their role in society, their veils as symbols of oppression or of freedom, their identity, their patriotism, their womanhood. Yet the voices and life experiences of Muslim American women themselves are rarely heard in the loud rhetoric surrounding the question of Muslims in America. Finally, in I Speak for Myself, 40 American women under the age of 40, share their experiences of their lives as Muslim women in America. While their commonality is faith and citizenship, their voices and their messages are very different.

Readers of I Speak for Myself are presented with a kaleidoscope of stories, artfully woven together around the central idea of limitlessness and individuality. A common theme linking these intimate self-portraits will be the way each woman uniquely defies labeling, simply by defining for herself what it means to be American and Muslim and female. Each personal story is a contribution to the larger narrative of life stories and life work of a new generation of Muslim women.

There are approximately six million Muslims living in the United States and over one billion around the world. While the events of 9/11 certainly engaged Americans with the religion of Islam, many enduring stereotypes continue to belittle the Muslim American experience; this often leads to a monolithic interpretation of Islam. Such a treatment is especially inappropriate when reflecting on the Muslim American identity, which is by far one of the most culturally, ethnically, and socially diverse of any in the Islamic world. Women of the Muslim community in America could be described as both patriots and practitioners (of faith). Their experiences call for a body of literature that reflects how they celebrate and live Islam in distinctive ways.

In the wake of the current rising tide of Islamophobia (see Time Magazine, Aug. 30, 2010), I Speak for Myself is a must read for Americans seeking understanding of Islam from young women who were all born in the USA." sells the book in paperback format for $14.17 plus postage or in Kindle format for $7.85. fRead reviews or order it safely from the online book store

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A book containing personal descriptions by 45 Muslim-American men of their lives and faith:

book cover image Wajahat Ali && Zahra T Suratwala, Eds., "All-American: 45 American Men on Being Muslim," White Cloud Press, (2011) Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store

Amazon describes it as a:

"Follow up work to [publisher] White Cloud's successful and highly acclaimed May 2011 book I Speak For Myself: American Women on Being Muslim. With this second book in the I Speak For Myself series, American Muslim men speak out on their lives and how their Muslim beliefs play out in private and on the public stage. Contributors include high profile figures in the American Muslim community, representing a new generation that is making a profound impact inside and outside the Muslim world."

About the editors:

  • Wajahat Ali (playwright) is a Muslim American of Pakistani descent. Ali’s essays and interviews on contemporary affairs, politics, the media, popular culture and religion frequently appear in the Washington Post, The Guardian, Salon, Slate, Wall Street Journal Blog, Huffington Post, and CNN.

  • Zahra Suratwala is President/CEO of Zahra Ink, Incorporated, a writing and marketing firm that works with organizations across the globe. She lives in Chicago, Illinois sells the book in paperback format for US $13.23 plus postage, and in Kindle format for $7.85 Review it/order it.

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A book about mainline Islamic beliefs in their diversity and unity:

Book cover image Sumbul Ali-Karamal, "The Muslim Next Door: The Qur'an, the Media, and that veil thing" Read reviews or order this book safely from online book store

Reviews from

John L. Esposito, University Professor and Professor of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University:

"Post 9/11 has seen an explosion of publishing on Islam. For many, the question is who do I read if I only have a limited amount of time and want to know what and why Muslims believe what they believe? The Muslim Next Door is an excellent place to start. Sumbul Ali-Karameli presents Islam as a living and lived faith. She combines scholarship with an engaging and accessible style and frank self-criticism that crystallizes the faith and commitment of a majority of mainstream Muslims in its unity and diversity."

Robert W. Hillman, Professor of Law, University of California, Davis:

"An engaging and enlightening work. The author has provided an indispensable vade mecum for anyone interested in a sensitive and feminist perspective on Islam, free of the rhetoric and exaggerations common in contemporary public discourse. The book is conversational in tone and very readable and, although the subject is serious, the author has a gift for applying a lighter touch and humor at just the right moments. It should be read by everyone."

Dr. Eboo Patel, Ph.D., Sociology of Religion, Oxford & Executive Director of Interfaith Youth Core Chicago, IL:

"There are few books that I would genuinely recommend to everybody I know, and you are holding one of them. Sumbul Ali-Karamali has written a lovely, lyrical, and learned book about living Islam. Whether you are an expert in the subject or a novice, a skeptic or a believer, you will find this book a treasure."

Cost: List: sells in paperback format for $14.21 plus postage, or $8.04 in Kindle format. They also often sell used copies at a very low price. Review / order it

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Originally written: 2012-MAY-03
Latest update: 2015-JAN--02

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