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While the large presence of Muslims in the United States dates to the 1960s, Muslims have been a part of the history of America since colonial times. American Muslims’ stories draw attention to ways in which people of varying religious, cultural, ethnic, and racial backgrounds interact to shape both their communities’ identities and our collective past.
Developed by Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, Reed College
Prince among Slaves by
Call Number: E444.I25 A78 2007
Publication Date: 2007-09-19
This book tells the little-known story of Abd al-Rahman Ibrahima, a Fulbe Muslim of elite ancestry who was captured in an ambush, sold to English slavers, and enslaved in the United States in 1788. After forty years in America, most of them spent in slavery, Abd al-Rahman won his freedom and was able to return to Africa in 1828, thanks in large part to the efforts of Secretary of State Henry Clay and other concerned individuals. Gathered from historical documents on three continents, Abd al-Rahman’s remarkable story offers glimpses of a West African society in the era of the transatlantic slave trade, an American frontier plantation at the beginning of the cotton boom, and the early American republic. It also shows how Abd al-Rahman built a dignified life despite slavery, and even negotiated his family’s release from bondage.
The Columbia Sourcebook of Muslims in the United States by
Call Number: E184.M88 C65 2008
Publication Date: 2007-11-28
The primary sources that make up this collection are arranged chronologically: from the early nineteenth century to World War I; from World War I to 1965; from 1965 to September 11, 2001; and from 9/11 to the present. More than fifty excerpts from personal accounts, books, songs, poems, and institutional documents by and about Muslims give the reader unparalleled access to the stories and views of Muslims in the United States and the larger society’s responses to their presence. Themes such as conversion, spirituality, gender, law, and politics are sampled, with a generous share given to the voices of Muslim women and leaders of the Muslim community. The Columbia Sourcebook of Muslims in the United States is an invaluable resource for those who wish to hear the authentic voices of Muslims in America.
Acts of Faith by
Call Number: E184 .M88 P38 2010
Publication Date: 2010-07-27
In this memoir, Eboo Patel relates his journey to faith-based activism with American youth. Patel, a native of the Chicago area who was born of Indian immigrants and raised in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, recounts the challenges he faced straddling multiple worlds, making the case that religion can play a constructive role in young people’s lives. His struggle is not one of choosing a Muslim identity over assimilation, but of discovering how to embrace difference. Founder of the Interfaith Youth Core, which involves youth of different religions in service projects, Patel seeks to chart a course toward genuine pluralism. He presents the work as a high-stakes effort to guide young people toward constructive social engagement, noting that extremism is an appealing alternative that some will take in the absence of authentic leadership.
A Quiet Revolution by
Call Number: BP190.5.H44 A46 2011
Publication Date: 2011-04-29
Highly symbolic and often misunderstood, Muslim women’s wearing of the veil sometimes evokes passionate responses, from other Muslims as well as from non-Muslims. In this insightful and often surprising analysis, Harvard University professor Leila Ahmed describes the adoption of hijab (the practice of wearing head coverings and other concealing garments in public) as a “quiet revolution” among Muslim women. Ahmed intertwines her observations as a scholar of feminism and Islam with her own history growing up in a mid-twentieth-century family in Egypt, adding nuance and complexity to Americans’ understanding of the recent resurgence of hijab. In A Quiet Revolution, Ahmed explores the meaning of concepts such as “secular,” “Islamist,” and “feminist” in thought-provoking ways that challenge the widely held misconception that all Muslim women are passive and oppressed.
The Butterfly Mosque by
Call Number: BP170.5.W55 W55 2010
Publication Date: 2010-06-01
The Butterfly Mosque is the memoir of an American woman raised in a secular family who discovers the value of religion during her travels. Interested in history, art, and literature, G. Willow Wilson takes a teaching job in Cairo. She meets the sincere young friend of a friend assigned to show her the ropes in the city—a highly unconventional relationship that turns into love and marriage. The book follows her encounter with Egyptian society and with her own spirituality as she converts to Islam, and about her developing relationship with her husband's family. A highly observant and self-reflective person, Wilson captures the strengths and foibles of her own and her adoptive culture with an authentic voice. The book explores larger issues in both American and Egyptian Muslim society, and challenges the reader with observations about the way Americans and Muslims interact, examining the value of secular and religious perspectives, and about the complexity of living as a modern person. Her own work as an essayist is woven into the memoir, taking her observations to the level of the global cultural encounter, discussing issues of gender in Islam, poverty's impact on cultural relations, and the consequences of perceptions across cultural and religious divides. Wilson's story of her family, work, and travels, including a journey to Iran, grapples with the difficulty of confronting differences in social and moral codes, but finds common ground in respect for each other as complex individuals.