What is the dif…

Posted on October 12, 2012 by


What is the difficulty of being a follower of one religion but surviving in a culture that is somewhat hostile to your beliefs?  That is what the book All-American is about.  All-American, edited by Wajahat Ali and Zahra Suratwala is 45 stories about Muslim men in the United States who sometimes find it difficult to practice their religion or the complete opposite, they share how much being Muslim has changed them.  What is important to note is that the stories in this book were written by the people who the story is about.  In this book, many of the individuals in their stories told of their experiences involving to seemingly hide their muslim identity for fear of persecution.  In one of the stories, by a man named Shahzad, he tells that his son goes to a small muslim school that has them dress in traditional attires.  His son wears a kurtah (long white shirt), topi (cap), and hijar (white drawstring pants).  He continues to say that he doesn’t want his son to be out in public with these clothes on for fear of being singled out.  It is interesting that people have to worry about what they’re wearing.  Is our culture really that insensitive as to punish people for what they’re wearing?  Unfortunately, our culture is heavily based on appearances.  

Another story in here by Jason van Boom, he tells how people thought he was a Jew because of his beard!  He was even labeled as a jew by a fellow Muslim, and he said “oh good, I thought you were a Jew.” That’s horrible!  He continues to say how uncomfortable he felt after that encounter.  I can’t help but remember how the same can apply to Christianity.  Back in the Protestant Reformation, when Protestants hated Catholics.

What is also very nice about this book is that it has a glossary in the back of the book.  That helps immensely because throughout the stories, they use Arabic vocabulary such as Alhamodolillah (praise be to God), iman (faith), and maghrib (the west).  I find it very useful to have this kind of vocabulary present because it creates a more direct path to understanding.  The definition that the book states for maghrib is not just “the west”, it continues to say that it may refer to sunset and the time for evening prayer.  The average american doesn’t know what any of these words mean, except for Allah which is Arabic for God, and the only reason most of us might know that is because of all the t.v. bits of news anchors saying that they are saying “praise Allah.”  One aspect of the book that was important was also the fact that not all of the Muslims in this book were Arabic.  A large percentage of them were, but there were a couple Americans that were Muslim, some who were raised Muslim, and some who converted to Islam when they were at college.  This book is a great addition to anybody who is interested in how the Islamic faith relates to the American Culture


Picture Courtesy of Barnes and Noble


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