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For many Americans, the words ‘American' and ‘Muslim' simply do not marry well; for many the combination is an anathema, a contradiction in values, loyalties, and identities. This is the story of one American Muslim family—the story of how, through their lives, their schools, their friends, and their neighbors, they end up living the challenges, myths, fears, hopes, and dr For many Americans, the words ‘American' and ‘Muslim' simply do not marry well; for many the combination is an anathema, a contradiction in values, loyalties, and identities. This is the story of one American Muslim family—the story of how, through their lives, their schools, their friends, and their neighbors, they end up living the challenges, myths, fears, hopes, and dreams of all Americans. They are challenged by both Muslims who speak for them and by Americans who reject them. In this moving memoir, Idliby discusses not only coming to terms with what it means to be Muslim today, but how to raise and teach her children about their heritage and religious legacy. She explores life as a Muslim in a world where hostility towards Muslims runs rampant, where there is an entire industry financed and supported by think tanks, authors, film makers, and individual vigilantes whose sole purpose is to vilify and spread fear about all things Muslim. Her story is quintessentially American, a story of the struggles of assimilation and acceptance in a climate of confusion and prejudice—a story for anyone who has experienced being an "outsider" inside your own home country.


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For many Americans, the words ‘American' and ‘Muslim' simply do not marry well; for many the combination is an anathema, a contradiction in values, loyalties, and identities. This is the story of one American Muslim family—the story of how, through their lives, their schools, their friends, and their neighbors, they end up living the challenges, myths, fears, hopes, and dr For many Americans, the words ‘American' and ‘Muslim' simply do not marry well; for many the combination is an anathema, a contradiction in values, loyalties, and identities. This is the story of one American Muslim family—the story of how, through their lives, their schools, their friends, and their neighbors, they end up living the challenges, myths, fears, hopes, and dreams of all Americans. They are challenged by both Muslims who speak for them and by Americans who reject them. In this moving memoir, Idliby discusses not only coming to terms with what it means to be Muslim today, but how to raise and teach her children about their heritage and religious legacy. She explores life as a Muslim in a world where hostility towards Muslims runs rampant, where there is an entire industry financed and supported by think tanks, authors, film makers, and individual vigilantes whose sole purpose is to vilify and spread fear about all things Muslim. Her story is quintessentially American, a story of the struggles of assimilation and acceptance in a climate of confusion and prejudice—a story for anyone who has experienced being an "outsider" inside your own home country.

30 review for Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie: Being Muslim in America

  1. 5 out of 5

    Deborah Markus

    Who defines a religion? This is not only an interesting question, but a deeply important one – especially in America, where most people are religious. You’d think I wouldn’t have a dog in this race, big fat heathen that I am. But I find the question of who gets to call themselves a “real” member of a religious group to be vital – partly because I have strong ties to groups that have been labeled as not "really" Christian (Catholic childhood, teenage fling with the Mormon church), and partly becau Who defines a religion? This is not only an interesting question, but a deeply important one – especially in America, where most people are religious. You’d think I wouldn’t have a dog in this race, big fat heathen that I am. But I find the question of who gets to call themselves a “real” member of a religious group to be vital – partly because I have strong ties to groups that have been labeled as not "really" Christian (Catholic childhood, teenage fling with the Mormon church), and partly because the argument itself is a sort of cultural barometer. Are we having thoughtful, engaged discussions about what it means to identify as part of a group? Are we seeing the human face behind the holy text? Are we becoming literate in what defines someone else’s worldview, and broadening our own view in the process? Or are we having shouting matches, clutching old hatreds, and hiding our instinctive fear of the unknown as concern for national security? Ranya Tabari Idliby brings up these issues in her book about being Muslim in America. The questions she asks are desperately important. The anecdotes she shares are valuable. The passion she feels is unmistakable. That is why I gave this book a three-star “I liked it” rating. And it only got three stars out of a possible five because the writing Idliby uses to make her points is flawed and uneven. I kept tripping over mistakes and falling out of the story. My frustration with Idliby’s writing has nothing to do with the fact that her “Faith Club” excludes me by definition. If anything, I would have felt more comfortable with her work if she were more conventionally devout. Whatever I believe, I carry it to the extreme. When I was Catholic, I wanted to be a nun. When I started going to Mormon services, I longed for the day I’d be baptized. Now I’m a nonbeliever and have received my share of hate mail for an admittedly snarky piece about atheism I wrote that went viral. I loved and still reread the Mormon book Families Are Forever...if I can just get through today! I calm my ginger temper by silently quoting Julian of Norwich, a medieval Catholic mystic: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” I see no contradiction between loving the works of women of faith and arriving at my own very personal conclusion that so far as I can see, nobody’s driving this crazy universe so we’d all better take care of one another as best we can. And as I said, I am still deeply interested in the question I raised way up at the top of this review: Who defines a religion? For instance, to take an example I’m familiar with: If an American woman calls herself a Catholic, has been baptized and confirmed, goes to church frequently, and considers her faith to be a vital part of her life, is she nevertheless not Catholic if, like many Catholic Americans, she disagrees with Catholic doctrine on the issue of birth control? Does it matter that so many other Catholic Americans also quietly disagree with the pope on this point? Should that matter? Idliby grapples with similar questions regarding her own Muslim identity. Is she not “really” Muslim because she doesn’t wear a headscarf? What about the fact that she doesn’t pray five times a day? Should we be thinking of the very personal, emotional experience of faith as a continuum, or as clubs one can be kicked out of for failure to follow the rules? On the other hand: Surely one must have some kind of definition of terms. I remember being deeply alarmed by a Mormon friend who casually consumed Coca Cola. She didn’t see this as any threat to her identity. I, as a newcomer to the club, was right to be concerned. How many tenets of a given religion can one set aside without quite literally losing the faith? Idliby makes a strong argument against those who would call her not a “real” Muslim. Sadly, some of those people mean it as a compliment. She’s not scary! She’s not a terrorist! She doesn’t seem weird at all! She’s so normal, how could she be a Muslim? Idliby is at her best when she keeps her writing simple and forthright: I am a daughter of Islam. I have loved its stories, poetry, and people my whole life. I have loved its heroes and heroines. I have loved its prayer beads in the hands of my father and my grandfather before him. I have loved its sights, smells, and sounds; its domes, minarets, and prayers; its art, architecture, mosaics and ceramics. To have loved is to owe. It is to stand by it in its hour of need. I know no other way. Unfortunately, Idliby doesn’t seem to have much faith in her own writing. Her worst mistakes come when she isn’t content simply to tell her story, but feels the need to try to fancy things up. For instance, Idliby tells an engaging story about her son shrugging it off when some boys in his class “spent the hour in study hall at school looking up racist Muslim jokes.” He doesn’t care until late that night, but then it hits him hard. He feels tired and vulnerable, and the incident brings him to belated tears. He asks his mother tearfully, “Why can’t I be like everyone else?” This is the kind of story that hits home, especially if you’re a parent. Which I am. I’m also a reader, a writer, and, yes, a bit of a grammar nerd. In spite of what Idliby says, her son did not “bemoan” those words. He moaned them. Yes, that’s a small mistake, but the book is riddled with them – and they’re all the more annoying because they come across as efforts to be pretentious. “Even Diane Sawyer may have been held sway by the belief that Islam is by definition a violent religion” – no, but she might have been swayed by it. I suppose it’s technically possible for someone to grow up “navigating viscous currents outside the convenience of popular absolutes,” but it’s more likely those currents were vicious. Every chapter has several such errors. This book should have been a swift, engaging read. Instead I kept having to stop – not to think about ideas the author had raised, but to mentally correct the text. Sometimes the mistakes blur her meaning. She talks once about having her fear “effectively harnessed.” What she means, as I figured out after a minute, was that she felt muzzled by fear. Later, she says, “My son, an avid athlete and a keen sports spectator, asked me a question that succinctly parodies his evolving identity struggles and its inherent tensions.” That’s a hot mess of a sentence. Parodies? “Its” inherent tensions? Editor, please. And maybe a medic. This book also seems to jump around quite a bit. Early on, Idliby talks about growing up celebrating Christmas as well as Islamic holidays: Maybe because Muslims believe in Mary, Jesus’ virgin birth, and the Jewish prophets before him, my mother never felt a contradiction in the Christmas stockings she hung to our bedposts, nor in the advent calendar she hung up in the kitchen filled with Santa-shaped chocolates. In the next chapter, when she is grown up with children of her own, she is relieved when, after much research, she is able to assure her children that “if Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Jesus, then I do not see why Muslims who believe in the Quran – which has an entire chapter dedicated to Mary, a woman described as ‘chosen above the women of all nations to deliver the promised Messiah, Jesus,’ – we cannot enjoy some Christmas cheer.” Well, yeah. You told us that already. I might not have been as annoyed by Idliby’s writing if I hadn’t already been put off by her seeming to glory in being a lightweight. She carries the Quran into the delivery room, and sends a “mini” Quran in her daughter’s tiny backpack on the first day of school, but it takes September 11th for her to decide to sit down and actually read the Quran for the first time. When her children are quite small, she says, “I soon gave up hope of ever finishing my Ph.D.” Why? “Motherhood consumed me. I could not even read the paper.” I was reminded of one of my favorite books, The Family Nobody Wanted, in which a minister’s wife adopts 12 hard-to-place children. She has no household help, and – this being the 1940s – no modern conveniences. But she and her husband are determined that she should finish getting her degree. Quite aside from the satisfaction it gives her, it will be “a good example to the children.” Idliby, on the other hand, expresses concern about leaving her children “spiritually bereft” if she doesn’t raise them with strong religious beliefs, but she doesn’t have any concerns about what kind of message she’s giving her daughter by turning her back on her own education – not even reading the newspaper – because babies are so darned cute. I won a free copy of this book in a Goodreads contest. No strings were attached, but obviously they’re hoping for reviews, which is more than fair. My review has to be mixed: good ideas, shaky writing. So, do I recommend reading this book? I did learn a lot about Islam. I wasn’t bored. But I was often frustrated. If you enjoyed “The Faith Club,” which Idliby co-authored and which I have not read, you’ll probably enjoy this. If you’re a grammar nerd, you’ll probably bleed from both eyeballs. And if you want something rigorous on the subject, I’d recommend Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories From The Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism, by Karima Bennoune, which is on my own to-read list.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kirstin

    I think she has an important message to share but it just didn’t feel like she had enough to fill up an entire book. I thought the book lacked focus and structure and instead I felt like she rambled and repeated herself. It was interesting to think about what makes someone Muslim enough (or Mormon enough, or Catholic enough or Jewish enough) to speak for their group. There were times I was almost as uncomfortable with her assertions as she was with more orthodox individuals speaking for her.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Janie

    Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie: Being Muslim in America by Ranya Tabari Idliby I won this book as a Goodreads First Read. In Idliby’s memoir, she wrestles with the idea of what it means to be both a Muslim and an American in today’s world. The book was incredibly insightful regarding the beliefs of 21st century Muslims as well as reflections on being a first generation American. I was thoroughly impressed with the author’s ability to present all of these ideas in such an engaging manner. I especia Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie: Being Muslim in America by Ranya Tabari Idliby I won this book as a Goodreads First Read. In Idliby’s memoir, she wrestles with the idea of what it means to be both a Muslim and an American in today’s world. The book was incredibly insightful regarding the beliefs of 21st century Muslims as well as reflections on being a first generation American. I was thoroughly impressed with the author’s ability to present all of these ideas in such an engaging manner. I especially enjoyed how she often used her children’s thought-provoking questions to springboard into different issues. Idliby is very articulate when explaining her beliefs and does not shy away from asking difficult questions. She is incredibly honest as she works to reconcile traditional ideas of Islam (such as wearing veils, wife beating, Fatwas, etc.) with her own identity. Furthermore, her passionate belief and pride in America is evident and infectious. While the book was an informative look into the religious beliefs of Muslims today, I still find that Islam is inconsistent and that some of its claims (i.e. that Jews, Christians, and Muslims all worship the same god) simply do not work. However, I am very glad to have read the book and would recommend it. It is so interesting to take a look at the world through someone else’s eyes.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Skjam!

    Disclaimer: I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway on the premise that I would review it. My copy was an Advance Reader’s Edition, and there may be changes in the final product. A fairly large percentage of the Goodreads giveaways I enter are for my favorite genres or books by authors I have heard are good. But I try to every so often pick a book a little outside my comfort zone. You can’t widen your worldview if you don’t stretch your mind every so often. And so this book. Ranya Tabari Idli Disclaimer: I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway on the premise that I would review it. My copy was an Advance Reader’s Edition, and there may be changes in the final product. A fairly large percentage of the Goodreads giveaways I enter are for my favorite genres or books by authors I have heard are good. But I try to every so often pick a book a little outside my comfort zone. You can’t widen your worldview if you don’t stretch your mind every so often. And so this book. Ranya Tabari Idliby is one of the three authors of The Faith Club, here speaking about her own examination of what it means to be both American and Muslim in the present day. This is perhaps harder than it should be, as there is a vocal minority in the United States that believes that Muslims cannot be truly American, as their ancestors believed one could not be Catholic and truly American, or black and truly American. She writes of her family history, how her father lived in America for many years and she chose to emigrate from Kuwait and become a naturalized citizen. And how her children were born American citizens, but on the day her daughter started kindergarten, 9/11 happened, and America’s attitude towards Muslim people harshened overnight. This shook the author into really examining her faith; she’d grown up Muslim because her parents were, and had to attend religion classes, but never really thought about what it meant. How could her supposed co-religionists believe that killing hundreds of people in terror acts was at all supported by Islam? Some subjects covered in this book include the diversity of Islam (there’s no Muslim Pope, despite the Saudi Arabians’ attempts at defining their version of Islam with its Seventh Century cultural values as the “one true Islam,”) the anti-woman doctrines of certain strains of Islam, the meaning of fatwa, conflict between being patriotic to America and wanting to support the athletic efforts of fellow Muslims, false pictures of American Muslims being propagated by media and interreligious marriage. If you have been wondering where the moderate and progressive Muslims are, here is one of them. Quite a bit of what Ms. Idliby has to say is sensible and worth looking at. One possible weakness of the book is that it is very of the “now” and is likely to become dated very quickly. There are photos in the middle, but the ARE did not have an index or bibliography. Recommended to people interested in current events and progressive Islam.

  5. 5 out of 5

    The Tick

    My biggest issue with this book was just how repetitive it was. There were a lot of times where the author would say something, then say it again in almost the same way in the next paragraph, which I found frustrating, especially since it's such a short book to begin with. I also suspect that it's geared more toward people who are less familiar with Islam than I am--I wound up skipping some of the Islam 101-type stuff that the author put in. I think it's a good concept for a book, but I wish tha My biggest issue with this book was just how repetitive it was. There were a lot of times where the author would say something, then say it again in almost the same way in the next paragraph, which I found frustrating, especially since it's such a short book to begin with. I also suspect that it's geared more toward people who are less familiar with Islam than I am--I wound up skipping some of the Islam 101-type stuff that the author put in. I think it's a good concept for a book, but I wish that there had been more depth, more variety in some of the topics covered, and a little less overt preaching (although I do understand why the author went the preaching route).

  6. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Even though I finished the book a week ago, I had to prayerfully consider what I wanted to say for this review of the book and how I would rate it. I would say that it was alright; not exactly super spectacular, but not extremely terrible either. Now never will ever proclaim myself to be a scholar in the faith of Islam. I am just a simple humble Christian who likes finding out the truth about other faiths in order to have a more informed dialogue. I believe there were some good things that were Even though I finished the book a week ago, I had to prayerfully consider what I wanted to say for this review of the book and how I would rate it. I would say that it was alright; not exactly super spectacular, but not extremely terrible either. Now never will ever proclaim myself to be a scholar in the faith of Islam. I am just a simple humble Christian who likes finding out the truth about other faiths in order to have a more informed dialogue. I believe there were some good things that were brought to light when it comes to Islam, however I do think the author did miss the mark on completely answering some of the questions that were brought forth. This being the second book the author has written, I can not be the judge of whether she redeems herself in this one, or if she stays on the same par with the previous book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kay

    Reading this book gave a new perspective on the Muslin religion and American Muslims. It isn't fair to group all people of the Muslim faith in the same category as the Muslim Radicals. It would be like saying all Christians are like the radical Christian militia groups. The was very interesting to read but sometimes it was very repetitive and dragged in places. Reading this book gave a new perspective on the Muslin religion and American Muslims. It isn't fair to group all people of the Muslim faith in the same category as the Muslim Radicals. It would be like saying all Christians are like the radical Christian militia groups. The was very interesting to read but sometimes it was very repetitive and dragged in places.

  8. 4 out of 5

    miteypen

    This book is not perfect, but it is one of the best books I have read, not only about what it means to be Muslim in America, but what it means to be Muslim, period. Muslims are walking a tightrope in today's world between loyalty to their faith and the ability to be accepted by the Western world. The author doesn't shy away from sticky issues and difficult questions, which I found refreshing. In fact, in several places she says that Muslims must not try to whitewash things that are problematic a This book is not perfect, but it is one of the best books I have read, not only about what it means to be Muslim in America, but what it means to be Muslim, period. Muslims are walking a tightrope in today's world between loyalty to their faith and the ability to be accepted by the Western world. The author doesn't shy away from sticky issues and difficult questions, which I found refreshing. In fact, in several places she says that Muslims must not try to whitewash things that are problematic about the way Islam is interpreted and practiced by some groups and individuals. Strangely enough, I caught myself thinking that she and Ayaan Hirsi Ali (a strong opponent of Islam) would probably agree about a lot of things; the difference between them being that Ali would abolish Islam outright and Idliby calls for reform from within. Although she is passionate in her defense of Islam, this isn't just an emotional plea for understanding and acceptance. She doesn't paint Muslims as victims and all non-Muslims as perpetrators. All the topics she covers are carefully researched and presented, for the most part, with objectivity. When she does take a stand that might be construed as slanted, she admits her bias and then tries to explain her reasoning. Anyone who has read, or is familiar with, The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew--Three Women Search for Understanding knows that Idliby is not asking for anything that she herself is not willing to give: respect, tolerance and understanding. So when she writes about the plight of Palestinians (which is her heritage) or the issue of interfaith marriage, she is very careful to present all sides. She reserves her harshest criticism for fundamentalists like Wahabis and Salafists--Muslims who insist that the only true Islam is that which harks back to the seventh century. She lays much that is wrong with the Muslim world at their feet and makes a good case for doing so. As a convert, I found much that was heartening in this book: her obvious love for Allah, Islam and the Quran; her example as a progressive Muslim, and her exhortation to educate yourself and to stand tall against hatred and prejudice. This isn't a long book--I would have liked for it to have been longer--but Idliby covers a lot of territory. The only thing I found negative was that she kept making the same arguments over and over toward the end of the book and it got a little tiresome. The most remarkable thing about this book is that it might be just as interesting for Muslims as for non-Muslims, especially given all the diversity in the Muslim world. I highly recommend it for both.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Elli

    3.5 actually for my own interest. I'm not a non-fiction reader that much anymore; I far prefer a well researched author with fictional main characters or at least an estimate based on the research of the person living at the time. Seems to put a soul into it, not just facts of a dry interest. It's well written and I certainly understand and respect her cause, although I'm not much of a casuist either by now. She's a very good writer, very thorough in what she is doing and presents it well. For t 3.5 actually for my own interest. I'm not a non-fiction reader that much anymore; I far prefer a well researched author with fictional main characters or at least an estimate based on the research of the person living at the time. Seems to put a soul into it, not just facts of a dry interest. It's well written and I certainly understand and respect her cause, although I'm not much of a casuist either by now. She's a very good writer, very thorough in what she is doing and presents it well. For the right person this would be a 5. It's a First Reads for me, and I think she probably has a bright future. She's sincere, and not easy to knock flat. She's also the mother of two children who are being raised as Muslims as she and her husband are. She wears no special covering and speaks very clearly about what the Koran is telling you and what it is not telling you to live and believe. She was quick to point out that somethings claimed to be said or written by certain others are, in fact, not research based and plenty of experts have tried to find someone beyond the author who lent an authority to it. She points out that when people are ostracized and made to feel "different" they can likely move into an opening for difference and violence. And jihad does not have the meaning that some would have it represent. The best I can do is compare it with the opposite like the Reluctant Fundamentalist. He liked this country until after 9/11 when attitudes changed. He went slowly under and defensively. This one learned more about it, determined to make a comfortable home for Muslims in this country that weren't fanatical, ultra conservative, or violent. Freedom and equality are the dream. Her two best friends are Jewish and Protestant and the three of them, all well educated, were anxious to be an intregal part of the fabric. They used every opportunity to speak, and they insisted and argued well with those who had more ritualistic details than spiritual depth. She called Muslim, Christianity and Judiasm parts of the Abrahamic faith. And all refer to a God of Love. She pointed out that tribal conditions have worked their way in over the centuries as well as frustrations. Some go back to the seventh century and the world of the 7th century has changed, and Muslim fits in easily to modern life if one realizes that. And there is no one person such as a pope or bishop that can speak for the faith as a whole. Anyhow, if this is your interest, you'll love the book. I enjoyed it although it went a little too slow for me. But the indomitable person and spirit behind this particular mission is a real treasure.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Peter Goodman

    “Burqas, Baseball and Apple Pie: Being Muslim in America,” by Ranya Tabari Idliby (Palgrave MacMillan, 2014). Idliby is slim, with blonde, luxurious hair---an American beauty. Except that her father was a Palestinian refugee who studied in Chicago, rose from poverty in 10 hard years. Her mother was a green-eyed blonde, but coyly Idliby does not mention her ethnicity except to say that the family was Muslim. She was raised in Kuwait, Palestinians among Kuwaitis. When she was 12 her father bought “Burqas, Baseball and Apple Pie: Being Muslim in America,” by Ranya Tabari Idliby (Palgrave MacMillan, 2014). Idliby is slim, with blonde, luxurious hair---an American beauty. Except that her father was a Palestinian refugee who studied in Chicago, rose from poverty in 10 hard years. Her mother was a green-eyed blonde, but coyly Idliby does not mention her ethnicity except to say that the family was Muslim. She was raised in Kuwait, Palestinians among Kuwaitis. When she was 12 her father bought a second home in Virginia; at 16 she was a freshman at Georgetown. At 22 she became an American citizen. After her marriage, the couple had two children. Her family has always been moderately observant but imbued with the history and theology of Islam, but other than their religion they are as ordinary an American family as one could wish. This book is essentially a cri de Coeur by a woman who is being torn and squeezed and generally tossed by the screaming winds of the world around her. She loves America, loves its Constitution and rituals, raised her children to be as unexceptional as possible---except that they never hide nor deny their Muslim faith. She says that Islam as practiced around the world has been and is tolerant, peaceful, accepting of diversity. She cites verse after verse of the Koran and of Muhammad’s sayings supporting that. Yet the vast body of Americans is deeply prejudiced against Islam (out of fear and ignorance). The unknowing slurs and insults she describes from friends, neighbors and strangers parallel the easy racism and anti-Semitism that were once ingrained in American culture. She fights it, she tries to raise her children to be proud, open, not defensive. But living in America, she indicates, is often a struggle. She is part of a trio of Christian, Muslim and Jewish women who formed The Faith Club, as which they travel the country explaining themselves. But she is also being squeezed from the other side, from the intolerant, reactionary Islam of Wahhabism and the Islamists who demand full burqas, the subordination of women, the constant warfare against the west. Islam is at war with itself, she says. One senses her constant pain and anxiety as she struggles to keep her feet while powerful tides try to sweep her over. Hers is the plight of the moderate whenever extremes rise to prominence, as is happening today in the US and around the world. The writing is simple, clear and urgent. I wish her strength and success. http://us.macmillan.com/author/ranyat...

  11. 4 out of 5

    Foxglove

    Ignores the darker side of the faith (all faiths have dark sides, they don't represent the faith but they also can't be ignored) and posits that Jews lived well under Islamic rule (they lived better than under Christian Europe but were still second class citizens, and dhimmi were not protected, as their name would say. "Although dhimmis were allowed to perform their religious rituals, they were obliged to do so in a manner not conspicuous to Muslims. Display of non-Muslim religious symbols, such Ignores the darker side of the faith (all faiths have dark sides, they don't represent the faith but they also can't be ignored) and posits that Jews lived well under Islamic rule (they lived better than under Christian Europe but were still second class citizens, and dhimmi were not protected, as their name would say. "Although dhimmis were allowed to perform their religious rituals, they were obliged to do so in a manner not conspicuous to Muslims. Display of non-Muslim religious symbols, such as crosses or icons, was prohibited on buildings and on clothing (unless mandated as part of distinctive clothing). Loud prayers were forbidden, as were the ringing of church bells or the trumpeting of shofars.[84] They were also were not allowed to build or repair churches without Muslim consent.[58] Moreover dhimmis were not allowed to seek converts among Muslims.[85] In the Mamluk Egypt, where non-Mamluk Muslims were not allowed to ride horses and camels, dhimmis were prohibited even from riding donkeys inside cities.[86] Sometimes, Muslim rulers issued regulations requiring dhimmis to attach distinctive signs to their houses.[87]" Also promotes racism by erasing Israeli Jews of color and constantly claiming to see both sides of the story, while calling Europe the native homeland of Jews. Sorry, no dice.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    This book is full of good questions, careful honest explorations and answers, personal experiences and discovery. However, I found it all so scattered that it's tough to give it a high review. Had this been a conversation with friends, as I'd imagine The Faith Club discussions, I believe I would have really enjoyed the opportunity for a good discussion. Yet, as a book, I found it uneven in presentation and clumsy in trying to weave together the personal and the academic perspectives. While a ver This book is full of good questions, careful honest explorations and answers, personal experiences and discovery. However, I found it all so scattered that it's tough to give it a high review. Had this been a conversation with friends, as I'd imagine The Faith Club discussions, I believe I would have really enjoyed the opportunity for a good discussion. Yet, as a book, I found it uneven in presentation and clumsy in trying to weave together the personal and the academic perspectives. While a very realistic journey of personal faith identity, it seemed awkward to have the author both explaining her struggles in faith and yet repeating over and over why she maintains her faith. I found the author's voice to be very defensive at times, which seemed sad and unnecessary, as I'd guess in picking up this book and connecting with her through the pages, you would be inclined to be empathise. This is a great conversation that needs to happen in more venues to generate more conversations! Muslims worldwide and Muslim Americans certainly need more visible heroes and allies to combat a fear-mongering media. Idliby is a brave voice who shows that we can all stand up for what we believe. I just wish she'd had some writing help.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    This is the first Idliby book I was aware of. I hadn’t heard of her previously co-authored book or tour The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew--Three Women Search for Understanding. I know several American Muslim patriots, so some of Idliby’s material was not new to me. I didn’t much know that there is a subset of Muslim feminists, though I am not surprised. I didn’t know that Sharia, that boogeyman that FOX anchors and their ilk use to scare the American public, means “path to the waterin This is the first Idliby book I was aware of. I hadn’t heard of her previously co-authored book or tour The Faith Club: A Muslim, A Christian, A Jew--Three Women Search for Understanding. I know several American Muslim patriots, so some of Idliby’s material was not new to me. I didn’t much know that there is a subset of Muslim feminists, though I am not surprised. I didn’t know that Sharia, that boogeyman that FOX anchors and their ilk use to scare the American public, means “path to the watering hole,” or the path to God. Idliby blames some of the difficulty in religious life on the hardnosed of every religion who believe that they have knowledge that allows them to determine what makes another person Muslim, Christian or Jewish or other religions. This is an interesting read, I'm . I received this ARC from Amazon Vine, in return for a review.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sally Hegedus

    Although the writing may be a bit uneven, this book has a lot of important things to say about being Muslim in America and being a Muslim parent trying to instill a confident faith in one's children during these difficult times for Muslims. The author makes sincere and deeply considered points on topics including patriotism, the perception of Islam by Westerners, gender equality, social justice, veiling and burqas, religious diversity and plurality and tolerance, and of course fanaticism and ter Although the writing may be a bit uneven, this book has a lot of important things to say about being Muslim in America and being a Muslim parent trying to instill a confident faith in one's children during these difficult times for Muslims. The author makes sincere and deeply considered points on topics including patriotism, the perception of Islam by Westerners, gender equality, social justice, veiling and burqas, religious diversity and plurality and tolerance, and of course fanaticism and terrorism. I highly recommend this book for everyone who is open to a better understanding of Islam and to hearing the struggles of everyday moderate Muslims at this time in history. The atmosphere of hatred, fear, and prejudice regarding Islam in this country causes genuine pain and sadness to millions of peace-loving Muslims and it's important to hear their story. This book is a good start. It needs to be read -- particularly by those who continue to allow a minority of fundamentalist and fanatical so-called Muslims to speak for the entire community of Islam.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Irwin

    I just won this book free as a goodreads giveaway! I am waiting to read it. Thanks.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ayman Fadel

    Formatted and hyperlinked review at: http://muslimmediareview.blogspot.com... After listening to an interview with Ranya Tabari Idliby, author of Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie: Being Muslim in America, I published a response/rant the guilt from which compelled me to buy and read the book. My response to the interview reflects my views, but the book impacted me more deeply and, upon reflection, helped me appreciate Ustaza Ranya's positions. I present some criticism unique to the book and a few obs Formatted and hyperlinked review at: http://muslimmediareview.blogspot.com... After listening to an interview with Ranya Tabari Idliby, author of Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie: Being Muslim in America, I published a response/rant the guilt from which compelled me to buy and read the book. My response to the interview reflects my views, but the book impacted me more deeply and, upon reflection, helped me appreciate Ustaza Ranya's positions. I present some criticism unique to the book and a few observations, and I end with a strong promotion of the book and Professor Ranya. On page 44, she ponders the terms "secular Muslims" and "non-religious Muslims." Too often, the choice in the West is cast as if it were a battle between Islam and secular Muslims, a choice that many Muslims appear to confirm when they describe themselves as secular Muslims or non-religious Muslims. I do not feel that this is a wise choice. We must give our children other options. To abandon or to call oneself not-quite Muslim is not just semantics. It has real and important consequences. It denies the possibility of the natural and necessary diversity that exists and has always existed within Islam. ... To shrink from Islam or to qualify our Muslim identity is to abandon our religion in its time of need. For all the stereotypes and challenges, for all the misconceptions and fear, I still expect my children to carry the truth of their faith with conviction and pride, to patiently serve as Americans and as Muslims. It takes courage and fortitude to navigate childhood and young adulthood in defiance of those who are too eager to label you or to dismiss you as qualifying for neither or as both. On pages 45-6, Ustaza Ranya writes: My friends have asked me, as I have sometimes wondered myself, why I continue to remain Muslim in spite of my frustrations. The reasons are many, but perhaps the most important is that I remain a Muslim to some degree because of my frustrations. ... I am a daughter of Islam. I have loved its stories, poetry, and people my whole life. I have loved its heroes and heroines. I have loved its prayer beads in the hands of my father and my grandfather before him. I have loved its sights, smells, and sounds; its domes, minarets, and prayers; its art, architecture, mosaics, and ceramics. To have loved is to owe. It is to stand by it in its hour of need. I know no other way. [italics in original] I agree with her criticism of the term "secular Muslim," and I wonder why she described herself with that term in the CSPAN interview. On page 210, Ustaza Ranya seemingly interchanges the terms "Muslim secularists" with "secular Muslims." Muslim secularists are not necessarily rejecting their faith. Many do not want to be at the mercy of orthodox Muslims who have appointed themselves as guardians of the faith and who define faith strictly through the observance of rituals. Many secularists do not want to be denied the possibility of spiritually rich lives. They are often inspired by Muslim values and the belief in the transcendent, beyond the here and now of life. Many secular Muslims are not happy just committing to humanistic or secular ideals, but insist on their right to be inspired by Islam's rich plurality of traditions and culture. They do not believe that orthodoxy is exaggerated and inflamed to empower orthodoxy to define the boundaries of faith. [p. 210] A secularist is a believer in secularism. The varied definitions of secular seem to preclude it from describing somebody affiliated to a religion. I believe in secularism because I think it is a better way to organize society than state-enforced religion. But I am not secular because I believe individuals' actions have a worldly dimension and an otherworldly dimension, i.e. God's judgment. In this and in other issues, Ustaza Ranya is not systematic and careful with her language. [However, by the time I finished the book, I began thinking that my search for systematic thinking was akin to the various fundamentalisms she was criticizing.] It is also clear from the second passage the great extent to which Islam remains for Ustaza Ranya a matter of personal identity. Earlier in the book, she emphasized how it would be inappropriate for parents to burden their children with a despised religious identity out of "loyalty." [pp. 13-14] It is also tricky, IMO, to say that Islam is in need. And even if I would accept that assertion, I would hesitate even more to think that it needed me. In a secular sense, Islam is not an animate being that needs (see Edward Said's book Covering Islam.) In a divine sense, if Islam is God's religion, than there's no reason to fear for it. Muslims, and humanity in general, are in need. There may be something I can do for them. I also think the same thing when I hear Muslims of other viewpoints say things like "Islam needs you to do X or believe Y." I'm sympathetic to Ustaza Ranya's response to the passage in the Quran which some Muslims have used to justify wife-beating. She wrote that Muslims take three approaches. The first is literalist and Wahhabist and in full support of the most misogynistic practices. "The second approach, embraced by apologists, tries to whitewash the verse by offering conditions and qualifiers regulating and limiting the circumstances under which a Muslim husband can beat his wife. ... I find this approach tragic and comically absurd in its desperate efforts to resolve a Quranic verse that is clearly offensive--even to those defending it. Its proponents understand that the verse is unacceptable to the social and cultural values of the twenty-first century, but they are not ready to make that leap which requires the rejection of a verse that is in the Quran. Progressive and reform-minded Muslims embrace the third approach." (pp. 72-3) The author mentions some figures who have shaped her thoughts on these matters. Most prominent is Feisal Abdul Rauf, associated with the Cordoba Initiative to build a community center in Lower Manhattan and author of the book What's Right with Islam, which I liked. Another is Abdolkarim Soroush, whom she met through a New York Times Magazine article. Ustaza Ranya writes, "... I secretly wondered if Muslims had virtually replaced the divinity of Jesus with the divinity of the Quran ... In my mind, the Quran for many Muslims had become God; to worship God was to worship the Quran." [p 51] She also references Khaled Abou El Fadl and Fazlur Rahman. I do feel a need to be more systematic when taking radical positions regarding the dominant ideas among Muslims about the Quran, but I do not believe that that particular shortcoming overshadows the insights Ustaza Ranya presented on this subject. I was curious to find out what Ustaza Ranya ended up doing regarding the textbook which mentioned Muslims' acceptance of wife-beating, but that was never revealed in the book. The book is filled with praise for "America." Thus, I found it ironic that the author could write this sentence without irony: Israel is America's kindred spirit in the Middle East, a relationship nourished by religious, cultural and political connections. [p. 97] Another example of unsystematic use of a concept fraught with dispute in American minority communities is assimilation: As a confident America moves forward in its expansive power of assimilation, I hope that my children too are a part of that larger and better union, a stronger union, and a union that includes American Muslims. Let us inspire Muslims all over the world as they pursue a justice and a freedom that we as Americans have long known. [p. 158] This passage upset me at first, but I believe the author has in mind something that only became more clear to me by the time I finished the entire book. I also disagreed with the author's definition of fatwa: "legal decrees in Islam issued by religious law experts." [p. 87] But I 100% agreed with her condemnation of the mindset which demands and produces fataawaa: Do Muslims really need a fatwa on everything from brushing their teeth to how they socialize? Or when and how to have sex with their spouses? What some of these people need are parents, not Muslim legal opinions. By engaging in the trivial and the banal, Islam becomes a trivial and banal religion. [p. 92] My attitude about the book changed right as I was entering its final third. Perhaps it was because my own rigidities were loosened enough to appreciate it. Sometimes a book and a reader take a while to get in tune. Think of two pendulums eventually matching oscillation. Or maybe because Ustaza Ranya just let it rip and wrote the final chapters with more passion. On pages 141-2, she makes her first historical argument about why Muslims frequently seem to justify political violence. Then we start getting beautiful passages such as: Those who have made Sharia into an obsolete punitive system obsessed with regulating people's vices as opposed to a true quest for justice or taqwa are criminals. [p. 157] Chapter 16, entitled "Mommy, Can I Marry a Jew?," makes two assertions with which I disagree yet contain truth I cannot deny. The first is that it is better to marry a good non-Muslim than a bad Muslim. The second, regarding the offspring of mixed religious marriages, is the idea that the child can practice two religions at once. As a male, I have forbidden myself from commenting on women's clothing issues, but I like how the author handles it in Chapter 17. Speaking of the idea of the "Clash of Civilizations," the author writes: My children's identities will not be a paradox, but an inspiration. It is more accurate today to speak of the complicity of civilizations. Of the candor, collaboration, and cooperation of civilizations as we move forward together to solve, heal, cure, and advance in our quest for God's irrefutable and absolute values. [p. 203] [italics in original] In the final chapter, the author describes her idea of assimilation in rhetorical assertions of the rightful place of Muslims in America and the noble nature of America itself: America's nascent ideals have proved to be more powerful and resilient than the contradictions of its reality and historical struggles. ... When American Muslims salute the flag and take the oath, they are bowing at the altar of America's one and most important religion, which preempts all other differences and diversities; it is an American faith in the elixir of its ideals. Although historically those ideals have been tested, corrputed, and appropriated to the exclusion of others, time and time again it is not cynicism that sets in but a resilient faith that a better America will reign supreme. ... Our journey has been about refusing to be denied our simultaneous Muslim and American identities. By no uncertain measure, we choose to be Muslims because we refuse to be lesser Americans. [America's] heart and soul are in its historic promise, its superpower ability to welcome, assimilate, and empower those who continue to flock to its shores. [pp. 221-5] So I feel like I disagree with the author on a variety of points, yet the author has convinced me that those differences don't matter. It's more important to focus on the values of agreement, which are more important, than the value of purity of religious practice or ideology. It's very disarming! It is very easy to continue reading and listening to people who reaffirm your own thinking. I am very happy that I did read this book despite my misgivings because it changed how I think about my practice of Islam and my relations with other people. P.S. I also think that the author's concern for her children elevated her thinking on topics beyond where I, who don't have children and thus may not have as much skin in the game, have gone. It's like the Arabic proverb: اللي إيده في المية مش زي اللي إيده في النار Literally, "the person whose hand is in water isn't like the person whose hand is in fire." Meaning something along the lines of walking in another person's shoes.

  17. 4 out of 5

    thewanderingjew

    Several years ago, I read the first book written by Ranya Idliby, with two other women; each represented a different religion, each hoped to begin a dialogue to enable a better understanding of each other’s beliefs. The book was “The Faith Club”. Therefore, I was drawn to this novel when it appeared as an offer on Goodreads. I wanted very much to read it to try and better understand the current American Muslim point of view. From page one, it is interesting and appealing, however it is controver Several years ago, I read the first book written by Ranya Idliby, with two other women; each represented a different religion, each hoped to begin a dialogue to enable a better understanding of each other’s beliefs. The book was “The Faith Club”. Therefore, I was drawn to this novel when it appeared as an offer on Goodreads. I wanted very much to read it to try and better understand the current American Muslim point of view. From page one, it is interesting and appealing, however it is controversial. The author explains why she is a Muslim, what it means to be a Muslim in America, and her hope that she can be an American Muslim with her head held high. She has never been overly zealous, rarely attends a mosque, but uses Islam to keep her centered and to explain the exigencies of life and to help her tolerate and endure them. In the early pages, Ranya attempts to describe what it is like to be a Muslim in an America that is Muslimphobic, not only because of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center, but also because all of the major terrorist attacks that have since been perpetrated by Muslims. She explains how hard it is to rear her children, to make them feel as if they are American. Her family lost its property in Palestine with the creation of Israel. (She does not explain the background. She does not mention that Palestinians and Arabs supported the Nazis, intent on wiping out all Jews, she does not explain the war at all in either Israel or Europe.) Her father was sent to America at age 16. He put himself through the University of Illinois, graduating with a double major in Engineering and Mathematics. Slowly, as I read, I became disappointed with the author's approach. She seemed to espouse free speech for herself, wanting everyone to hear and accept her side, but she didn’t seem as unwilling to truly hear the other. I read the book with an open mind, eager to learn, but it began to feel like a book of essays eager to dispel the current fear of Muslims by indicting those who did not agree with her point of view. She seemed to be couching her remarks in an even-handed approach, but it the scales were heavily one-sided. There was too much emphasis on moral equivalents between the Jews and the Muslims, where there is none. Jews did not fly planes into buildings. Jews so-called “terrorism” was a matter of their absolute survival, a matter of life and death, when they fought the British and the Arabs. She does not fully elaborate on historic events; instead, she makes it seem like the Palestinians and the Muslims are somehow the greater victims rather than the major creators of their maligned self-image. Reading this, as a Muslim terrorist group may have taken over a Malaysian passenger airline which has disappeared, a plane in which circumstantial evidence has people speculating about the two Muslim pilots and/or possibly two Iranians on board with stolen passports, as being responsible, I cannot but confirm my feelings that Ranya Idliby’s approach to this book was naïve at best, while I understand that she may be saying, "oh no, please not another Muslim', as I have often said, 'please don't let it be a Jew". While she believes in a magnanimous approach to religion, one in which there is one G-d we can all worship, she does not elaborate on which G-d it will be. Surely she realizes that the Muslims Christians and Jews cannot worship the same G-d, although they can support the same principles.. She offers a phrase, several times, which once said convert all who say it to Islam. Kind of tongue in cheek, since, proselytizing is not part of Judaism and it is part of other religions, I couldn’t help wondering, as I read, if I had converted, unknowingly, to worship her belief in G-d. She questions many of the radical Muslim concepts and offers alternative interpretations of many of their practices, so that the image is far more peaceful and loving than the one often portrayed by our news media. She rightly understands that interpretation is often the problem. She expresses dislike for Fox News and most people on the right, whom she names. She criticizes the Tea Party, Sean Hannity, Alan West, Rush Limbaugh and others with whom she disagrees and never once points to anyone with a Liberal agenda. Those people she extols. Thus, she becomes guilty of all she rails against. She spews vitriol against her so-called enemies, those few whom she accuses of ranting about Muslim terrorists unfairly, pretty much blighting the entire right wing of America. (She refers to the phrase “not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims”; this is not a truism, surely, I agree, but certainly most terrorists are Muslim extremists.) She resents those who consider Muslim extremists representative of Islam as well. I do understand how closely she is involved, emotionally, and intellectually, and physically working to support the Muslim agenda she believes in, and is therefore, more susceptible to over reacting in her own approach, as I am, as well. I also understand that she has grown more supportive of Islam as it is questioned more and more, as a defense of her deeply held religious beliefs, even if not steeped in the religion’s practice. I am a non-practicing Jew, except for high holidays, but I am a great believer in its culture and you cannot separate me from my religion. I am a Jew and a Jew is me. However, as an American, I would not support any Jew over any American, unless I felt they were better qualified. She refers to her son wondering if he has to support American athletes. Would it be all right if he supported a Muslim athlete since they have not achieved as much success? While I might support a Jew who is competing, I could not see myself supporting someone unqualified on the basis of religion. My loyalty and my nationalism are for my country, not my religion. In addition, the sympathy is unwarranted for me. If they are worthy, they will win, but since she compares Muslim and Jewish athletes, assuming Jews support them, has there ever been a massacre of a team from a Muslim country as there was of the Olympic team in Germany? I felt that her sympathies were often misplaced and too subjective, rather than objective. Her s She described many instances in which she tried to make moral equivalents between Jewish history and Muslim history which confounded me. One cannot compare the “terrorist” acts, one cannot compare the numbers of supposed “terrorists” (according to statistics, the low number of Orthodox Muslims, who could be radicals, is at least 120,000,000); one cannot compare the reasons for the terrorism. In one case, it was a matter of life and death and in the other it was a case of a radical group trying to annihilate another group to initiate the beginning of a dominant caliphate. I do not profess to be a scholar in this matter, I only mean to imply that her book, rather than enlighten me by broadening my understanding of our differences, only served to reinforce my feelings that we are very different. I was very disappointed. She has written a book that seemed intent on pointing fingers at the Jews in her attempt to white-wash the Muslim image. She seemed guilty of the same approach to the subject that seemed to rile her when applied to Islam and Muslims. She pointed fingers at outliers. Rather than effectively explaining why Muslims should not be painted with such a broad brush, she painted others with a subtly, accusatory brush. While she criticized Fox News for their interpretation of the Muslim crises, she did not say one word about the one-sided drivel often coming from MSNBC. If you can’t see both sides, you can’t present an even-handed explanation. I completely understand her very understandable attempt to come to terms with the extremists giving Islam a bad name, but she seemed to become obsessed with trivialities instead of realities. Fox news and those who rail against the Muslim terrorists, perhaps to the extreme, did not put bombs in their shoes, did not hijack planes, did not bring down the Towers, did not try to plant a car bomb in New York City, just to name a few. She seems to be conflating Jewish issues with Muslim issues, yet Jews have been faced with annihilation for thousands of years because of their beliefs and have not committed acts of terrorism against the rest of the world. She condemns those who watch Fox News which effectively paints me with that same broad brush, even though I had hoped to find a path to better understanding from reading her book. I never questioned Idliby’s right to be a Muslim or her choice to be a Muslim anymore than I believed she questioned my right to be a Jew. I wanted to find a way to understand why there is so little respect for life on the part of the radicalized. I did not want my political or religious beliefs maligned any more than she wanted hers denigrated. Then, oh boohoo, she notes that an athlete was criticized for saying he was proud to be Palestinian, well, Jews, for years were murdered for simply being Jews, exiled, maligned and humiliated for being Jewish. I did not believe she could seriously equate that kind of behavior to the behavior of radicals intent on destruction and death. She felt sorry for that athlete, but where was her sympathy for the murdered adults and children on those planes and in those towers who never got the chance to grow up or see their parents, who never got the chance to say they were proud to be whatever they were? She seems to be writing a series of essays to prove her point which would have been helpful had it been unbiased. She does not mention the Palestinian and Arab refusal to recognize Israel, and she does not deal with the issue of the right of return which would effectively take Israel away from Jewish control. She doesn’t elaborate on the fact that when the Jews controlled the Holy sites, they opened them to all, that Jews welcome Arabs into Israel while they are not welcome into many Muslim countries and must even have an alternate passport without Israeli stamps in them and must not wear the Magen David if they enter that country. There is more freedom in Israel today, than in Muslim countries. Israel has evolved forward while the other countries have evolved backwards. While she tends to equivocate, taking both sides of an issue as equal, she doesn’t always present them that way. She cites gentle passages from the Quran while disregarding the more hostile. I don’t know if it is true, but I have heard that the interpretation of the Quran in Arab countries is far different than the one in America, in the English version, however, there are many versions and interpretations of the Jewish Holy books, as well. However, we don’t declare fatwas against those who disagree with us. The extremist viewpoint and interpretation can simply not be trivialized with flowery, hopeful statements. Idliby feels persecuted unjustly, and I do not blame her. She is not guilty of any of the terrorist acts, what I did not appreciate was her casting so many aspersions upon Jewish behavior, under the cloak of a possible explanation for Muslim behavior. Even today, the world fights Israel’s existence. They support a boycott, lob missiles into the country, force children to hide in shelters and quake in fear. In America, her children do not suffer, yet in America, boycotts of Israeli products are supported by some radical groups. I was not expecting a book which weighed so heavily on the condemnation of Jews as it attempted to acquit Muslims or a book which equated the radicalization of Arabs to the negative publicity they receive in America and correlate it with the reason they question their allegiances. I was not expecting a book with so many platitudes rather than concrete information that I could use to comprehend her trials. She proclaims innocence when she says she doesn’t understand why Americans object to the building of the Mosque and community center so near the site of the attack on 9/11, a committee on which she serves. Well, as a relative of someone who was injured, I believe she is very naïve. Surely she is aware of the idea that throughout Islamic history, they built their mosques over the houses of worship of the people they conquered. Whether or not that is the objective in this case, to be so insensitive to the emotional effects on those directly affected by the Towers attack is to pretend to be utterly naïve when she is not. It was a Muslim journalist who helped carry my relative to safety, on 9/11, so I harbor no innate anger toward Muslims, only toward Muslim terrorists. This book made me wonder about their dual allegiance in a way I had not wondered before, because she wants us to walk in her shoes but is not truly walking in ours. She is angry about the overreactions against Muslims but she should be far angrier about the behavior of the terrorists and less apt to point fingers at their accusers. Muslims have not been feared for centuries in America. It only began when the Muslims declared war against America and the West. The author penned a book to give voice to her indignation about what she views as unjust treatment to the Muslims who are not terrorists, without offering any real solution to the problem of Muslim terrorism which is the real problem, rather than being Muslim in itself. The religion isn’t the problem, although she seems to have made it the focus of her book. The terrorism is the problem, and sadly, it is committed largely by Muslims. She ignores the anti-Semitic remarks and unfair treatment of Jews in every Arab country, Jews who also were forced from their homelands by Muslims, by Arabs, while she points out the offenses of Jews against Arabs. She makes extreme suppositions like America could turn against and intern Muslims, as they did the Japanese, forgetting that it was Jews who were enslaved historically, forced to convert, forced into ghettos, as a norm. When she compares Jews being blamed for the death of Jesus, she doesn’t explain that it took thousands of years for it to be corrected in some of the bibles, but it still is not forgiven by some; just read Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing Jesus”, to find where blame is still placed. An entire people has been blamed throughout history for the actions of a few, a few who were coerced into making their decisions by the Romans who ruled them. No one coerced the Muslims to fly into the Towers and it only just occurred. Healing takes time. America and all Americans need time to heal, Muslims are Americans too; they need to heal. Muslims were also killed by the terrorists. When she supported Hillary Clinton’s supposition that riots were caused by a cartoonish video, (without directly saying Benghazi), I almost closed the book. That theory had holes in it from the beginning and has been completely disproven. It was a political attempt to protect President Obama and/or Hillary Clinton for fear of the effect on the coming election. I fear her book may exacerbate a situation already tenuous enough because of that blatant show of bias. The fear that Americans have of Muslims getting too involved in politics is only too real with the newly formed coalition of Muslim groups attempting to do just that, and some have terrorist ties. Empowering extremist groups is dangerous, trying to over-understand or over-excuse them is even more dangerous. I believe the author did not do justice to her subject. She oversimplified it. Rather than fully explain what it means to be a Muslim in America, rather than explaining how difficult it is to bring up her children in a world that is Islamophobic, even rightly so, she pointed fingers at those she accused of pointing fingers. Her foundation in her religion would seems to appear more powerful than she admits. There are more Muslims than Jews in the world, and the number of extremist Muslims exceeds the entire number of Jews combined. Why did this book descend into Jews vs Muslims for me? Why did she make it a point to correlate the two religions while condemning the one to justify the other? Idlibi's analysis seemed naïve to me, perhaps a bit uninformed by design or by lack of information. She has idealistic expectations but no way to really realize them except to verbalize her hopes. She often used broad platitudes which were repetitive and merely reflected her philosophy, again without hope of achieving it on a broad scale. She said they have no pope, no one voice, so it is unlikely she can achieve her goal of bringing about a more comfortable view of Islam and its followers. Jews have no Pope either. Yet, we don’t need to have one to make our points. We allow controversy, disavowing that which is lacking in humanity. The most poignant part of the book for me was a poem written by Idliby’s son Taymor, in which he declares himself to be simply “just like us” and that is what she is trying to convey with her book, that they are, indeed, just like us. It is a pity that she felt the need to point fingers at her detractors to do that, because that detracted from her message. Personally, I reject orthodoxy because of the extremes, but my fellow Orthodox Jews do not set out to murder indiscriminately in order to bring Judaism to the rest of the world. With extremists who believe in Islam, that is what they do, and that is why it is difficult to come to terms with those who support it even when they condemn the radicalized.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Tom N

    In this exceptionally moving memoir, the author wrestles with questions that are raised by her children and others she encounters, as to what it means to be Muslim in America and in the politically and religiously complicated world in which we live. Even though the issues are not easily resolved, one overall conclusion she does draw is that the negative imagery of Islam that is portrayed in the media today does not represent the vast majority of Muslims in America. Islamic extremism--particularl In this exceptionally moving memoir, the author wrestles with questions that are raised by her children and others she encounters, as to what it means to be Muslim in America and in the politically and religiously complicated world in which we live. Even though the issues are not easily resolved, one overall conclusion she does draw is that the negative imagery of Islam that is portrayed in the media today does not represent the vast majority of Muslims in America. Islamic extremism--particularly since 9/11--is spawned from cultures (whether from the Middle East, Africa, or Southeast Asia) who embrace a very fundamentalist and legalistic view of the Quran, rather than using the Islamic Scriptures as a means to find how God wants people to live peacefully and cooperatively within a complicated world. The author tries to find the delicate balance between being a person of faith, and being a patriotic American--even when confronted by attitudes that would lump all Muslims into the same box. A fascinating book, which I highly recommend.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie J. Yoman

    Respectfully, I understand the author's point of view but...this book was painfully tedious to read. She didn't need to write an entire book to state her main points. Essentially, after 9/11, being a Muslim and an American put a bullseye of suspicion on your back. She strongly defends her faith and reassures her readers the vast majority of Muslims in the world abhor the acts of terrorism happening around the world. I guess I was expecting more of the baseball and apple pie aspect and got way mo Respectfully, I understand the author's point of view but...this book was painfully tedious to read. She didn't need to write an entire book to state her main points. Essentially, after 9/11, being a Muslim and an American put a bullseye of suspicion on your back. She strongly defends her faith and reassures her readers the vast majority of Muslims in the world abhor the acts of terrorism happening around the world. I guess I was expecting more of the baseball and apple pie aspect and got way more burqa in this book. That being said, I was educated as to moderate Muslim interpretation of the Quran and their belief of the need to drop the 7th century aspects that are unrealistic and cruel in our modern day and age. Peace unto you, author and readers and as always...God bless America.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Brittany Sodic

    I love the message and important aspects of a diverse, inclusive Islam that is for everybody and how she paints a picture of just how closely the Judeo-Christian and Islamic faith are so closely intertwined. It did, however, seem a little unfocused and redundant in parts. At times it read like a love letter to America, exalting its democratic and individualistic ideals, while at others directly addressing her children and her wishes for them in the future as American born Muslims. I just wish th I love the message and important aspects of a diverse, inclusive Islam that is for everybody and how she paints a picture of just how closely the Judeo-Christian and Islamic faith are so closely intertwined. It did, however, seem a little unfocused and redundant in parts. At times it read like a love letter to America, exalting its democratic and individualistic ideals, while at others directly addressing her children and her wishes for them in the future as American born Muslims. I just wish there was more cohesive elements or a stronger editor was employed. The message is strong and the intent is beautiful.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Brittany Murray

    This book was good for what it was. I would agree with a lot of other reviewers though that this book was much too long. It probably would have worked better as a shorter collection of essays. I also find the authors use of the term secular muslim to be a bit problematic. Is secular muslim really a thing? Define secular: denoting attitudes, activities or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis. I suppose as a muslim myself I find it difficult to think that a non-practicing muslim This book was good for what it was. I would agree with a lot of other reviewers though that this book was much too long. It probably would have worked better as a shorter collection of essays. I also find the authors use of the term secular muslim to be a bit problematic. Is secular muslim really a thing? Define secular: denoting attitudes, activities or other things that have no religious or spiritual basis. I suppose as a muslim myself I find it difficult to think that a non-practicing muslim has such a large voice in speaking for muslims as a whole. For example, I think many practicing Christians would have problems with a Christian who only makes it to church at Christmas writing a book and going on a speaking tour while claiming to speak for the religion. It would be nice to have a book like this written by a regular, everyday practicing muslim. Too many times people assume that muslims are either extremists or are on the totally opposite end of the spectrum like this author. There is certainly many many practicing muslims who do wear the hijab, pray 5 times a day, fast during Ramadan, etc, etc and that are also completely normal Americans who love their country. It would be nice to see those perspectives once in awhile.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Diane Mueller

    After enjoying the faith club I thought I would give this book a try. I enjoyed faith club a lot more but still a good read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Brittany

    3.5. Good insight...a bit repetitive.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Patty Gaugler

    Our book club read this. I liked it and learned a good point of view.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Mira

    Very informative and eye-opening. Well-written and easy to understand.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Shafali M

    Rather sermonising - not for me I'm afraid! Somewhat repetitive too! Rather sermonising - not for me I'm afraid! Somewhat repetitive too!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kiki

    An interesting look into what it’s like to be both Muslim and American. And why those two things are not in any way contradictory.

  28. 5 out of 5

    JC

    I gave this book 4 stars because it's a story that needed to be told. It's a story Americans should be reading instead of listening to the fear-mongering news that all Muslims are potential terrorists. Sure parts were repetitive, but in this climate of distrust, fear, and hate it needs to be said often and loudly: The Muslim religion isn't inherently violent and hateful. Like other religions (looking at you, Christians), there are horrible people who use their religion as an excuse to do horrible I gave this book 4 stars because it's a story that needed to be told. It's a story Americans should be reading instead of listening to the fear-mongering news that all Muslims are potential terrorists. Sure parts were repetitive, but in this climate of distrust, fear, and hate it needs to be said often and loudly: The Muslim religion isn't inherently violent and hateful. Like other religions (looking at you, Christians), there are horrible people who use their religion as an excuse to do horrible things. Hating a religion you know nothing about, except from reports on Fox News, is sad and ignorant. The more we learn about Muslims, especially our fellow citizens, the stronger we become as a nation.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    Idliby felt compelled to take up the challenge of educating her neighbors and fellow Americans about Islam and its believers in order to protect her children against bullying in school and in their daily lives. In the process she educated herself. She navigated the treacherous waters that can be found swirling about [any] organized religion to uncover basic truths that help her to be a better person, citizen, mother. She did not duck difficult questions about Islam. If only we all looked at the Idliby felt compelled to take up the challenge of educating her neighbors and fellow Americans about Islam and its believers in order to protect her children against bullying in school and in their daily lives. In the process she educated herself. She navigated the treacherous waters that can be found swirling about [any] organized religion to uncover basic truths that help her to be a better person, citizen, mother. She did not duck difficult questions about Islam. If only we all looked at the underpinnings of our beliefs with such seriousness, I feel sure we would be finer examples of our species. She discovers the roots of and addresses the issues we have all wrestled with when considering Islam and Muslim societies abroad: the apparent subjugation of women, and the literal interpretation of the Quran. She is careful but unyielding in face of the worst excesses of American hate-mongering. How completely disorienting it must be to awake and find oneself part of a newly-designated “outsider” group. There is a very nice section at the end, when Idliby considers the marriage prospects of her children. I think she solves it admirably, eloquently, and the book is worth reading for that alone. Would that every child had a mother so thoughtful with her guidance, we would not have such intractable social ills. I liked the chapter devoted to Samuel Huntington’s 1993 article in Foreign Affairs, which is still being discussed today: in this chapter she explains her discomfort when someone considers the “inevitable, preordained, historically predetermined” conflict of values, religion, and cultures. She asks, fairly, how that fits with her family living in America as good citizens and progressive Muslims. “It is more accurate today to speak of the complicity of civilizations.” It is an interesting point which extends the discussion with hope and direction, i.e., usefully. This book would do well to go on school reading lists because it is so clear in its examples of thoughtless, heartless things all of us, but especially children and teens, think and say that really hurt others and hinder their development as responsible adults. (I am not talking now about her examples of TV Fox and Friends and Sean Hannity raves that are pure and simple uninformed hate talk.) Children need to be educated about their language and tone, and what’s funny and what is really not so funny. She is clear about this—how hurtful things make it difficult for discriminated groups to participate. It is sad, but probably true that “Islamophobes make it easier for terrorists to find one more vulnerable recruit….radicalization in American-born Muslims is not caused by the Quran: rather it is rooted in alienation, where troubled youths embrace a radicalized prospective of the world, enabled and empowered by radicalized readings of the Quran.” This is too simple, but there is some truth here. The discussion is a valuable one for it gives us something we can do: educate ourselves. It is worth noting, however, that Idliby’s brand of religion is not always recognized by her fellow Muslims as Islamic. Just as there are some in every religion or group who seek to include variants, there will ever be those who claim their own particular understanding is the right one. It is not that we are back to square one, exactly. We have expanded our understanding a little to include this family and others like it in what we take to be ‘our America.’

  30. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I really enjoyed this look into the world of American Muslims. It detailed a lot of the considerations that parents face in raising children to be proud of their religious heritage when the most prominent attention is focused on atrocities committed by extremists in the name of that religion. It also addressed the need to understand what your actual belief structure is and the basis for your personal faith, rather than just following tradition without thinking. And it spoke to the many different I really enjoyed this look into the world of American Muslims. It detailed a lot of the considerations that parents face in raising children to be proud of their religious heritage when the most prominent attention is focused on atrocities committed by extremists in the name of that religion. It also addressed the need to understand what your actual belief structure is and the basis for your personal faith, rather than just following tradition without thinking. And it spoke to the many different aspects of Muslim identity that most people are unaware of. I have a couple of friends who are Muslim, some observant and some "secular", so I had some understanding of the spectrum of Muslims that exist in the world, which so many people seem oblivious to. (That is something that baffles me, since no one expects all Christians or all Jews to act and believe exactly alike.) I did get some answers to the whys of the differences and the whys of discrepancies between what the media portrays and what I see in my friends' behavior, things I was never entirely comfortable asking them about. The Muslim face we most often see is a Wahabist one, dictated by the dominant tribe in Saudi Arabia, who believe that theirs is the only true Muslim identity -- one that requires burqas, forbids women to drive or vote, and promotes itself with the use of oil money. I had been told that the Quran is not a true basis for the mysogynist aspects of Islam that are highlighted by so many, but this book was clear in discussing exactly what the Quran requires of women and I found that refreshing. I liked the many citations and quotations as well, and found that reading them renewed an old interest in reading the Quran. One interesting thing to me was the blessing and the curse that is the lack of a central organization or heirarchy for the Muslim faith, as the author put it, the fact that there is no Muslim Vatican. The purpose of this was to allow each individual to form a personal relationship with God without being subject to the dictates of specific leaders who might see God differently -- a strength of the faith. The drawback is that when one faction goes extremist, there is no one authorized to speak for the moderates, no coherent message to contradict the extremist doctrine. In addition, the fact that so many of the young men and women caught up in the extremist movement are poor and uneducated, and therefore unable to read for themselves and understand the Quran in a context other than that of the jihadist imams, only exacerbates the problem. Once again it points to how so many of the ills of the modern world stem from the sharp division of wealth and opportunity between the very rich and the very poor. I would recommend this book to people seeking to understand the spectrum of Muslim identity and those willing to accept that not all Muslims are "bad" or "terrorists", any more than all Christians are in favor of killing doctors who provide abortions. I think it would also be helpful to young American Muslim couples about to start their families, helping them to see some of the challenges of raising children to respect and reconcile Muslim and American perspectives and providing guidance on how to talk to their children about some of the problems they will have to face.

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