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From jihadis to hijabs and everything in between - what it means to be Muslim down under today In this humorous and insightful exploration of Islam in Australia, award-winning comedian and writer Sami Shah speaks with Muslims across the country, from the founder of a new group called Muslims for Progressive Values who believes in a feminist interpretation of the Quran, to t From jihadis to hijabs and everything in between - what it means to be Muslim down under today In this humorous and insightful exploration of Islam in Australia, award-winning comedian and writer Sami Shah speaks with Muslims across the country, from the founder of a new group called Muslims for Progressive Values who believes in a feminist interpretation of the Quran, to the official spokesperson for Hizb ut-Tahrir; to a Muslim preacher who thinks IS deserves credit for keeping Muslims conservative. Based on Shah's much-lauded 5-part radio documentary, THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF AUSTRALIA takes us behind the stereotypes and generalisations, to find out who Australian Muslims are, how they live and what they think. The answers are both multitudinous and surprising, resulting in a fascinating multi-faceted and entertaining portrait of Islam in Australia today.


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From jihadis to hijabs and everything in between - what it means to be Muslim down under today In this humorous and insightful exploration of Islam in Australia, award-winning comedian and writer Sami Shah speaks with Muslims across the country, from the founder of a new group called Muslims for Progressive Values who believes in a feminist interpretation of the Quran, to t From jihadis to hijabs and everything in between - what it means to be Muslim down under today In this humorous and insightful exploration of Islam in Australia, award-winning comedian and writer Sami Shah speaks with Muslims across the country, from the founder of a new group called Muslims for Progressive Values who believes in a feminist interpretation of the Quran, to the official spokesperson for Hizb ut-Tahrir; to a Muslim preacher who thinks IS deserves credit for keeping Muslims conservative. Based on Shah's much-lauded 5-part radio documentary, THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF AUSTRALIA takes us behind the stereotypes and generalisations, to find out who Australian Muslims are, how they live and what they think. The answers are both multitudinous and surprising, resulting in a fascinating multi-faceted and entertaining portrait of Islam in Australia today.

30 review for The Islamic Republic of Australia

  1. 4 out of 5

    PattyMacDotComma

    4.5★ “I’d spent so many years in Pakistan combating Islam in my head, that in Australia I wanted to pretend it just didn’t exist. Except, it obviously still did.” . . . If I updated the book to reflect daily events, it would never be completed. I also realised, upon closer analysis, people are essentially still screaming the same things.” Sami Shah is a smart, funny man who makes his living as a comedian, and it shows. Born in Pakistan to a Muslim family, he gradually realised he didn’t believe in 4.5★ “I’d spent so many years in Pakistan combating Islam in my head, that in Australia I wanted to pretend it just didn’t exist. Except, it obviously still did.” . . . If I updated the book to reflect daily events, it would never be completed. I also realised, upon closer analysis, people are essentially still screaming the same things.” Sami Shah is a smart, funny man who makes his living as a comedian, and it shows. Born in Pakistan to a Muslim family, he gradually realised he didn’t believe in Islam but he retained a lot of his Muslim culture. A lot of people who aren’t practising Christians enjoy Christmas and Easter, of course, so that’s no great surprise. He talks about growing up in Pakistan and why he and his wife decided to bring their daughter to grow up in Australia. His parents and family are all still back there, so why did they leave? Basically, it's not a great place for a girl to grow up, and you can’t be an ex-Muslim, certainly not safely in Pakistan. In Australia, of course, he’s assumed to be Muslim anyway. “I do have a face that’s Muslim-y enough that in a hostage situation, I’d be the suspect. Even if I was the hostage.” Photo of Sami Shah, daughter, wife Ishma Alvi at their Australian citizenship ceremony We get culture and religion and race all mixed up in our heads and nobody can really sift through the rubbish to figure out who anybody is, I think. He’s a quick-talking, literate man with a good sense of humour, often corny, but that only makes him seem a little more likeable, I think. “I’m going to tell the white people reading this book right now a secret: All the other races are just as bigoted. Pakistanis hate Bangladeshis, Emiratis hate South Asians, Saudis hate anyone who isn’t them. Brown people are grotesquely racist towards black people, black people are racist towards Asians, and the Chinese basically hate everybody.” Australia is currently debating (among other things) how or whether to amend the Racial Discrimination Act. People complain that political correctness has gone mad, but Shah says in a footnote: “It’s worth pointing out that, given how many times I’ve heard obscene racial slurs casually used in Australia, political correctness is hardly mad here. It’s barely irritated.” He says in a stand-up routine he has, where he tries to describe what’s happening in the world, the audience begins with laughter and gradually gets more uncomfortable as he goes on, eventually folding their arms in opposition. He realised it was him – his appearance that was unsettling. So every night, he’d pick a white man from the audience to volunteer to read the script while Shah pointed to a map (or whatever). It worked! People laughed at the same words that had made them so nervous. Aren’t we strange people? His explanation for what he calls the four kinds of Muslims (Normal, Metro, Frightening, and Downright Crazy) is great as is his almost breathless description of the war in Afghanistan (and elsewhere) which he describes as if it were hypothetical. I will quote it at the end, because it’s too good not to share. Now he and his wife live here with their daughter and Shah Skypes with his parents regularly. They are “Normal” Muslims. “They have read the Quran many times but basically ignore the weirder bits; if I point these out to them, they change the subject by asking why I won’t give them more grandchildren.” But one day his daughter comes home from school talking about Jesus! Panic stations! He decides to encourage his parents to teach his daughter, via Skype, about her heritage and culture, so she can be proud of where she came from. They love it, of course! As he says, if you’re not familiar with the Christian Bible, you won’t understand a lot of Western culture and art. Likewise, you need to understand Islam’s holy book, the Quran, and prophet, Muhammed, to understand Muslim culture. He quotes a friend as saying: “There’s a reason why no one likes atheists: we’re basically the vegans of the religious world.” He interviews many Muslims in Australia, including academics, so there’s plenty of food (not vegan) for thought about radicalisation, discontent, and the bitter, bloody feud between Sunni and Shia (think of the Irish Troubles for Christians) and how it escalated because in Saudi Arabia “in 1938, vast reserves of oil were discovered. And the rest, as they say, is present.” And it’s still the present, just as the Irish are still split and Americans are fighting over Civil War statues as I write this. But we are foolish to target all Muslims as suspected ISIS terrorists. “Suspecting a Shia of supporting ISIS is like suspecting a Western Bulldogs fan of cheering for the Swans.” [or a Yankees fan cheering for the Red Sox, or Donald Trump cheering for - um - anyone else at all] My view is that Islamic fundamentalists could be compared to Christian fundamentalists like the Amish, except the Amish are peace-loving and mind their own business. Very few of us would curtail our activities or limit our pleasures to live an Amish life, I’m sure. As Shah says: “In general, any form of return-to-the-roots Sunni Islam is called ‘Salafism’. . . . The basic idea of Salafism is that Muslims were perfect during the Prophet’s time, and it’s been downhill ever since. . . . Islam is a fairly judgy religion as it is. Well, all religions are judgy, but Islam certainly spends a lot of time crossing its arms and tutting loudly.” And you're always at risk of being a target, it seems. “It’s not easy being a Muslim in Western countries. It’s not even easy being a Muslim in non-Western countries, given that you’re likely to be killed if you’re not the right type of Muslim there.” I’ve barely touched the edges of the material Shah provides, including a wonderful chapter written by his equally literate wife, who discusses women and Islam. She and Shah do not subscribe to the view that it can be a feminist religion as Susan Carland says in Fighting Hislam: Women, Faith and Sexism. I reviewed it here. There’s an interesting (and entertaining) interview with him online at the moment, and there’s plenty of other material available. There was a lot of fairly heavy history in this, lightened up with his trademark humour, but overall, it’s a serious book and a handy guide for today’s mixed-up world. http://www.abc.net.au/radio/programs/... Following is his summary of the mess we’re in now and why: “What’s worth noting here is that while on the macro level Shias and Sunnis hate each other and have piled up a millennia’s worth of grievances, on the micro level people tend not to care. Muslims, generally, don’t bother with who is Shia or who is Sunni. . . The only time it becomes a major issue for the average Muslim’s daily interactions with other Muslims is if, hypothetically, America invades a Muslim country with a minority Sunni leadership ruling over a majority Shia population – and if, in that hypothetical scenario, America overthrows the Sunnis, then gives weapons and wealth to the Shias to persecute the Sunnis. The Sunnis then, needing their own weapons and funding, go to the Saudis for help. And although the Saudis are American allies, they’re also Sunni extremists, so they provide not just the funding to the Sunnis in the Muslim country that America overthrew, but also open the doors to Al Qaeda, which is essentially the terrorist wing of Sunni extremism. Which leaves the Shias at a disadvantage, and so they go to Iran – a Shia majority country – for help. And while America hates Iran, both America and Iran don’t want the Sunnis back in power. So now various proxy wars are going on in the original country, with its Muslims forced to declare allegiance to either the Shia or the Sunni side, all while their lives are being bludgeoned under the fist of sectarianism. This creates a flood of refugees who don’t care whether they’re Shia or Sunni, just that everything they loved is dead or destroyed, and all they have now is the endless trudge along roads paved with humiliation and abuse, until they too fall dead – all because some people far away in countries they’ll never see wanted more wealth or power or influence. In that hypothetical scenario, the Sunni–Shia divide comes up. But luckily that’ll never happen.” Yeah, right. Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins for the review copy from which I’ve quoted (so quotes may have changed).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Johara

    [2.8] We were on a road-trip and wanted to do a quick audiobook, and while browsing at the local library's app, we stumbled upon this audiobook, which we thought will be a fun experience since it's done by a comedian & talks about a topic that we both understand. So, Sami Shah is a Pakistani-Australian stand-up comedian, writer, improvisational actor, and radio presenter. This biography is an exploration of Islam in Australia. The start was very promising, as he was funny & witty in his narratio [2.8] We were on a road-trip and wanted to do a quick audiobook, and while browsing at the local library's app, we stumbled upon this audiobook, which we thought will be a fun experience since it's done by a comedian & talks about a topic that we both understand. So, Sami Shah is a Pakistani-Australian stand-up comedian, writer, improvisational actor, and radio presenter. This biography is an exploration of Islam in Australia. The start was very promising, as he was funny & witty in his narration, and sharing his experience from being a devoted Muslim to an ex-Muslim... then halfway through the audio, it just became way too political & not funny anymore. It can be enlightening to non-Muslims, if they are ever inclined to understand about the religion, the conflicts that comes with it, and how it's perceived by everyone... in a simple manner & in a language that they will understand. But that wasn't the case with me & I honestly didn't bother to continue with it, and just DNF. Popsugar 35 - A book in a different format than what you normally read (audiobooks)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jack Heath

    It's hard to write bravely and carefully at the same time. In fact, you'd think the two would be mutually exclusive. But no; The Islamic Republic of Australia is a thoughtful, nuanced, (and humorous) exploration about how Muslims and ex-Muslims behave and are treated, both by outsiders and each other. It's hard to write bravely and carefully at the same time. In fact, you'd think the two would be mutually exclusive. But no; The Islamic Republic of Australia is a thoughtful, nuanced, (and humorous) exploration about how Muslims and ex-Muslims behave and are treated, both by outsiders and each other.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Duncan Smith

    This book is very readable and I learned new things about Islam. The author can write well. I found the regular shots at right wing or conservative public figures irritating, although these are by now de rigeur if you're catering to a progressive audience. The main sin by these public figures is a ... lack of enthusiasm for multiculturalism in general and Islam in particular. Well, like most other Aussie kids raised in leftist households and educated in our schools, I was brought up to take the This book is very readable and I learned new things about Islam. The author can write well. I found the regular shots at right wing or conservative public figures irritating, although these are by now de rigeur if you're catering to a progressive audience. The main sin by these public figures is a ... lack of enthusiasm for multiculturalism in general and Islam in particular. Well, like most other Aussie kids raised in leftist households and educated in our schools, I was brought up to take the goodness of multiculturalism as an article of faith. Now, I'm not so sure. It doesn't seem to be working in Europe, to say the least. The author spends a fair portion of the book saying (and through interviews with other Muslims) that Muslims are poorly understood in Australia, and to some degree mistreated. While this is probably true, the Utopian idea that we can all just get along seems a long way from coming to fruition. There seems to be a large gulf between the cultures of Islam and the West, and putting the two in close proximity isn't going to magically produce a harmonious society right away. However, books like this may lead to greater understanding, and I have learned more about Islam myself from reading it. Having said that, my affiliation is firmly with the West. While I am not an atheist (and not a Christian either), I want to live in a secular society in which religion is not intrusive. I do not like a value system in which one book is seen as an infallible authority, where you are obliged to pray several times a day and obey what is essentially a set of rules about daily life (wear a hijab, don't drink alcohol, etc etc). That doesn't make me Islamophobic, it means I prefer Western values and culture and prefer to live in a Western nation. So, as the author says, the full name of Pakistan may be The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, but I hope the title of his book never comes to pass. In a chapter written by the author's partner, she says she left Islam because it is misogynistic, treating women as lesser than men in several ways. If that is the case why should Western countries, which supposedly value the equal rights of women, encourage large scale immigration? Sami Shah seems to think most of those opposed to Islam are members of the so-called alt-right, and while it may be true that many of them are conservatives, it should really be Western feminists who are opposed to Islam. That this doesn't happen points to the absurdity of our times.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Misha Ali

    Good primer for anyone looking to understand Islam and the Muslim/Ex-Muslim experience in Australia. Easy to read, quite funny while remaining informative.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    In turns funny and informative. With all his caveats, he is a man after my own reasoning. I like how this gives a more nuanced view on Islam and Muslims in Australia.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Lamb

    Highly entertaining and informative overview of Islam from a former 'Muslim'. Sami was brought up in Pakistan as a Muslim and migrated to Australia in 2012. This book takes us on Sami's journey of growing up following his religion in a 'normal Muslim' family and how he began to question what he was being told to believe, how to behave and the general inconsistencies around his religious text. He describes how he came to the conclusion that he really didn't believe in his Islamic religion and why Highly entertaining and informative overview of Islam from a former 'Muslim'. Sami was brought up in Pakistan as a Muslim and migrated to Australia in 2012. This book takes us on Sami's journey of growing up following his religion in a 'normal Muslim' family and how he began to question what he was being told to believe, how to behave and the general inconsistencies around his religious text. He describes how he came to the conclusion that he really didn't believe in his Islamic religion and why he and his wife and daughter decided to move out of Pakistan to Australia. I think Sami has managed to provide a balanced view of the flaws across many religions and religious doctrines - not one can claim to have the perfect solution. Quote: <". . . Islam is a fairly judgy religion as it is. Well, all religions are judgy, but Islam certainly spends a lot of time crossing its arms and tutting loudly.”> He points out the need for religions to adapt to the modern world, having been written for a time and place vastly different to the hear and now. He shows us how religious text can be interpreted differently by every person and the use of particular words carried a very different meaning when first written to now. Quote: <"“In general, any form of return-to-the-roots Sunni Islam is called ‘Salafism’. . . . The basic idea of Salafism is that Muslims were perfect during the Prophet’s time, and it’s been downhill ever since."> He has categorised Muslims into 'normal' 'metro' , 'frightening' and 'downright crazy' in a humourous way and shows how each believes their own mantras and have adapted their religious text to suit their own narratives. He even admits to being three of the above at one time in his life, never quite crossing to the dark side of 'downright crazy'. I found the section regarding feminism (or lack of it) in the Islamic faith particularly enlightening and this has caused me to look at my own preconceptions and realise that we all need to educate ourselves better before we make judgments. Sami has chosen to divorce himself from a religion that in his opinion, is so inflexible and outdated and does nothing to preserve the rights of a human, particularly females who were just unfortunate enough to be born female and therefore 'oppressed' simply for not being a male. He correctly invokes that racism, intolerance, oppression and equality are not wholly exclusive within the 'white' community - Quote: <“I’m going to tell the white people reading this book right now a secret: All the other races are just as bigoted. Pakistanis hate Bangladeshis, Emiratis hate South Asians, Saudis hate anyone who isn’t them. Brown people are grotesquely racist towards black people, black people are racist towards Asians, and the Chinese basically hate everybody.”> And <“It’s not easy being a Muslim in Western countries. It’s not even easy being a Muslim in non-Western countries, given that you’re likely to be killed if you’re not the right type of Muslim there.”> I highly recommend this if not only to just understand the difference between Shia and Sunni Muslims or a Hijab and a Niqāb, but to hear from the perspective of a Muslim who has lived that life and is better informed to critique it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    hayls &#x1f434;

    Finally, a review. Better late than never, right? A very funny take of a topical and divided issue in Australia right now. As a Pakistani, comedian, and ex-Muslim, this is a unique perspective with a relaxed and humorous tone in a growing genre of literature on the subject which tends to be far more serious, a bit angry, and very political. Not that Sami Shah doesn't get political; he does present a helpful kind of Islam 101, going through the basics of the culture and politics of the religion, a Finally, a review. Better late than never, right? A very funny take of a topical and divided issue in Australia right now. As a Pakistani, comedian, and ex-Muslim, this is a unique perspective with a relaxed and humorous tone in a growing genre of literature on the subject which tends to be far more serious, a bit angry, and very political. Not that Sami Shah doesn't get political; he does present a helpful kind of Islam 101, going through the basics of the culture and politics of the religion, and sorts out a few misconceptions about the "Muslim community" in Australia (including the idea that the community is one homogeneous group). Throughout the book, Shah also addresses many issues including Islamophobia (maybe the touchiest subject in this country at the moment) in a way which requires everyone to stop taking themselves too seriously and have a bit of a laugh. No one is safe from Shah's gentle ridicule and that's just what we need right now. My thanks to NetGalley and ABC Books for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sonia

    Anyone that wants to learn about the fundamental principles of Islam and its culture needs to pick up this book. Sami Shah, an ex-Muslim examines both sides of the anti and pro-Islam argument in an objective and respectable manner that puts the media to shame.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rom Caitlin

    One of the funniest, most intelligent and most nuanced books I've ever read. Whether you're a lefty who loves multiculturalism or a right winger who fears being swamped by Muslims, this book will challenge your thinking, and make you a more informed person. At the same time, you'll be highly entertained by Sami Shah's silly asides and witty commentary, pointedly skewering hypocrisy on both sides of the fence. Shah's exploration of the religion he used to believe in and what it's place is in mode One of the funniest, most intelligent and most nuanced books I've ever read. Whether you're a lefty who loves multiculturalism or a right winger who fears being swamped by Muslims, this book will challenge your thinking, and make you a more informed person. At the same time, you'll be highly entertained by Sami Shah's silly asides and witty commentary, pointedly skewering hypocrisy on both sides of the fence. Shah's exploration of the religion he used to believe in and what it's place is in modern Australia is done with a lot of insight and consideration for the benefits and disadvantages of Western and Islamic cultures. If everyone would read this book, I think we'd start to have a much more informed national discussion about this issue, something badly needed at the moment.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dana

    Jedna z najlepsich knih, debatujuca o islame, ake som kedy citala :) Autor je komik, ex moslim z Pakistanu, zijuci v Australii = recept zarucujuci, ze miestami sa hlboko zamyslite, inokedy zasmejete.. “Muslim-hood becomes pathological. Pakistan treats Islam much like an Apple-addict treats their new iPhone in the first few days of receiving it – constantly touching it to reassure themselves it’s both real and still there.”

  12. 4 out of 5

    Madde Jewell

    A great insight into Islam the religion, the many types of Muslims and the different perceptions of Muslims and non-Muslims in and of each other. Also hilarious. Would read/10

  13. 5 out of 5

    Hammad

    This is a very funny read on a very serious topic. Sami Shah is an ex-Muslim Pakistani-Australian comedian. The book is about socio-cultural situation & the integration of Muslims living in the west, and not his personal atheism. With the exception of last two chapters where he and his wife has shared the story of why they left Islam. Given that the book is published in Australia and the primary audience are assumed to not have much background information on Islam and Pakistani culture, the book This is a very funny read on a very serious topic. Sami Shah is an ex-Muslim Pakistani-Australian comedian. The book is about socio-cultural situation & the integration of Muslims living in the west, and not his personal atheism. With the exception of last two chapters where he and his wife has shared the story of why they left Islam. Given that the book is published in Australia and the primary audience are assumed to not have much background information on Islam and Pakistani culture, the book has done tremendous job on explaining both well. His style of writing makes him appear to be an intelligent person. That explains his successful rise in comedy business. The footnotes are especially hilarious. Take these excerpts as an example, ---- I do have a face that's Muslim-y enough that in a hostage situation, I'd be the suspect. Even if I was the hostage. ---- or ---- And by the way, which Islamic terrorist want to blow up a Centrelink office in Brunswick? You're doing more damage to Australia by leaving it alone. ---- Despite the humour, he is extremely careful to appear politically balanced in his opinion. As much he has criticised Australian racism or the lack of understanding other cultures on westerners’ part, he is not shy of admitting the same problems on the immigrants’ side too. Sami has pragmatically put the case that there is no single monolithic Muslim who need to be feared and driven out. As best as one could put together in few pages, he has explained many kinds of Muslims and the history and variety of Islamic believes that commonly exist across the spectrum. The balance of the book is marginally tilted in the favour of left-wing values. Sami has discussed that modern Islamic terrorism has more to do with western imperialism of recent past and that the Islamic ideological extremism could have been curbed had western powers weren’t so supportive of dictatorships in the Muslim world. This is an excellent read. You don't have to be an Atheist Pakistani-originated Australian to appreciate the premise of the book. Being any one of these will make this book a relatable joy.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Laurel

    A funny insight into Islam in Australia from the perspective of an ex-Muslim Atheist. However, there are quite a few flawed premises here (e.g. his attribution to religion of social ills such as misogyny which exist as prevalently, though differently, in atheist communities as well as religious ones).

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ita

    Interesting book, I learned a lot about Islam and Muslims from this ex- Muslim author. A more serious book than his hilarious "I Migrant" so not so much laughter but certainly worth your time. Interesting book, I learned a lot about Islam and Muslims from this ex- Muslim author. A more serious book than his hilarious "I Migrant" so not so much laughter but certainly worth your time.

  16. 4 out of 5

    A Reader's Heaven

    (I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.) From hijabs to jihad and everything in between - Muslims down under today What is Halal? A country bordering Shariahland, or a method of preparing food? Do the Five Pillars of Islam comply with modern building codes? Or are they simply a philosophy for living? And if Muslims first arrived in Australia as early as 1800, can they go back to where they came from? In this funny and informative exploration of Islam (I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.) From hijabs to jihad and everything in between - Muslims down under today What is Halal? A country bordering Shariahland, or a method of preparing food? Do the Five Pillars of Islam comply with modern building codes? Or are they simply a philosophy for living? And if Muslims first arrived in Australia as early as 1800, can they go back to where they came from? In this funny and informative exploration of Islam in Australia, award-winning comedian and writer Sami Shah takes us behind the stereotypes and generalisations to find out who Australian Muslims are, how they live and what they think. Along the way we meet everyone from a woman who runs a ‘speed date a Muslim night' to a conservative Islamic preacher, and to the founder of a group called Muslims for Progressive Values. The result is an entertaining and fascinating snapshot of Islam down under today. Based on Shah's much-lauded 5-part radio documentary, this entertaining book takes the average Australian on a fun tour of Muslim Australia. We meet many Muslims who shrug off the stereotypical descriptions with humour and self-depreciating sense. We learn about how Muslims see themselves in our country, and some of the dreadful bigotry and racism they encounter everyday - even casual racism. It happens everywhere. However, while the topic is "heavy", it is written by a comedian so at no point to you ever get weighed down by the topic. In fact, there were times when I found myself wanting to get to the next person and see how they have dealt with these things - always with humour. It is serious and topical, but also a handy guide for dealing with life in our country right now. Paul ARH

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lisandra Linde

    An accessible, nuanced and timely look at Islam in Australia (and the world). Sami Shah, an ex-Muslim and comedian, discusses issues like radicalization, Islamophobia, community conflict and the way in which they are understood (and often misunderstood) in Australia. He examines his own biases, including his prejudices towards Muslims who look 'extremist'. This book is a perfect blend of Shah's personal experiences and more nuanced discussions with various public and community figures from diffe An accessible, nuanced and timely look at Islam in Australia (and the world). Sami Shah, an ex-Muslim and comedian, discusses issues like radicalization, Islamophobia, community conflict and the way in which they are understood (and often misunderstood) in Australia. He examines his own biases, including his prejudices towards Muslims who look 'extremist'. This book is a perfect blend of Shah's personal experiences and more nuanced discussions with various public and community figures from different sides of every argument. He plots the history of current international conflicts in an easy-to-follow manner (something lacking in media and history books) and breaks down the basics of Islam and Islamic practice with a nice balance of fact and humour.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Atif Shaikh

    Sami Shah's book is full of witty commentary, jokes that would not only chuckle both Muslims and non-muslims alike and a very good intro to the landscape of Islam (Muslims more precisely) in the context of current global issues and its unique manifestation in Australia. A very balanced take on genuine concerns on both sides (Islamists and Islamophobes). Although the writing is purely anecdotal, the frequent interviews with people actively researching on these topics along with his upfront confes Sami Shah's book is full of witty commentary, jokes that would not only chuckle both Muslims and non-muslims alike and a very good intro to the landscape of Islam (Muslims more precisely) in the context of current global issues and its unique manifestation in Australia. A very balanced take on genuine concerns on both sides (Islamists and Islamophobes). Although the writing is purely anecdotal, the frequent interviews with people actively researching on these topics along with his upfront confession of it being so set the right expectations. A must read for all in down under.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Chelsea

    A thorough look at Islam and Muslim communities in Australia (and abroad) featuring interviews with people holding many points of view (conservative and progressive Muslims, ex-Muslims, anti-Muslim activists, academics and experts) tackling topics ranging from freedom of speech to feminism to extremism - all wrapped up with the humorous commentary you'd expect from a comedian. Sami Shah doesn't claim to have all the answers but certainly showcases the complexity of the issues and enormous range A thorough look at Islam and Muslim communities in Australia (and abroad) featuring interviews with people holding many points of view (conservative and progressive Muslims, ex-Muslims, anti-Muslim activists, academics and experts) tackling topics ranging from freedom of speech to feminism to extremism - all wrapped up with the humorous commentary you'd expect from a comedian. Sami Shah doesn't claim to have all the answers but certainly showcases the complexity of the issues and enormous range of interpretations and opinions on Islam's role in a modern world.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Caroline McBride

    An thoughtful, nuanced and yet straightforward read from an author who has clearly thought long and hard about the topic. I was shocked (although in retrospect I shouldn’t have been) about how little I knew of the geopolitical history of Islam and the way it has influenced the religion and world today. I was also equal parts bemused and depressed by the perspective that Australian Muslims have nothing to complain about compared to Indigenous Australians - a rather sobering reflection on Australi An thoughtful, nuanced and yet straightforward read from an author who has clearly thought long and hard about the topic. I was shocked (although in retrospect I shouldn’t have been) about how little I knew of the geopolitical history of Islam and the way it has influenced the religion and world today. I was also equal parts bemused and depressed by the perspective that Australian Muslims have nothing to complain about compared to Indigenous Australians - a rather sobering reflection on Australian society.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Marina Khan

    This book talks about the cruxes that muslims and ex-muslims like Myself often find ourselves in. While I may think I have left Islam, my name, my face, my identity still carry my pasts religious baggage. I can relate to Sami in that on one hand, I may have departed from Islam, yet I find myself defending its cultural value. Easy read - I finished it in a few hours. Good humour. And definitely some food for thought.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    Read because it was this month's reading group selection, this book is an engagingly written, light and fairly general over-view of Islam in Australia, by a Pakistani-born, atheist, Australian comedian. He's no apologist for Islam and, while he doesn't shy away from discussions of discrimination against Muslims, he's also pretty clear about their poor treatment of each other, especially women. Read because it was this month's reading group selection, this book is an engagingly written, light and fairly general over-view of Islam in Australia, by a Pakistani-born, atheist, Australian comedian. He's no apologist for Islam and, while he doesn't shy away from discussions of discrimination against Muslims, he's also pretty clear about their poor treatment of each other, especially women.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alan

    Pakistani Australian, Sami Shah, is a comedian and ex-Muslim. Through research, personal insights, and interviews with others, he thoughtfully and humorously outlines the Islamic faith, and examines the major issues around Islam, and what it is to be a Muslim in Australia. I marvelled at just how many of the same issues apply to Christianity. Excellent reading for anyone who has an interest in Islam, whether for, neutral, or against.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jo Leggerini

    Great read! Not the first book I've read by a Muslim/ex-Muslim author about their experience with Islam, but definitely the most enjoyable and informative! Sami is a funny guy and manages to portray his experiences and insights eloquently and humorously. Would recommend for Australian audiences though, as it does require some understanding of Aussie culture. Great read! Not the first book I've read by a Muslim/ex-Muslim author about their experience with Islam, but definitely the most enjoyable and informative! Sami is a funny guy and manages to portray his experiences and insights eloquently and humorously. Would recommend for Australian audiences though, as it does require some understanding of Aussie culture.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Cyndi

    Funny, but not afraid to ask some really hard questions, this ex-Muslim athiest Pakistani-Australian (or should that be Australian - Pakistani?) is not afraid to put himself out there. Well actually he kinda is, but he does it anyway. It's what you do when you're a comedian. Well that and tell jokes and stuff Funny, but not afraid to ask some really hard questions, this ex-Muslim athiest Pakistani-Australian (or should that be Australian - Pakistani?) is not afraid to put himself out there. Well actually he kinda is, but he does it anyway. It's what you do when you're a comedian. Well that and tell jokes and stuff

  26. 5 out of 5

    V Edwards

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. My hubby is atheist, thought he might appreciate the following from Sami Shah's book the Islamic republic of Australia. There’s a reason why no one likes atheists: we’re basically the vegans of the religious world.. This book is excellent and I highly recommend. Besides being funny, this book certainly made my attitude change. Thank You Sami Shah. My hubby is atheist, thought he might appreciate the following from Sami Shah's book the Islamic republic of Australia. There’s a reason why no one likes atheists: we’re basically the vegans of the religious world.. This book is excellent and I highly recommend. Besides being funny, this book certainly made my attitude change. Thank You Sami Shah.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nat

    Very informative and easy to understand. I had an understanding of the Shia / Sunni distinction but not a lot of understanding about Islam generally. There are quite a few people in my life I feel like I could recommend this book to.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Shereen M

    Sami Shah on Islam and Muslims in Australia, the political left and right, growing up as a Pakistani Muslim and ultimately breaking up with Islam. A great book for anyone interested in reading a balanced, nuanced perspective of the Islam debate in Australia.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chiro Pipashito T H

    As the author started the book saying he is an atheist from Pakistan, it sent my expectations high, I was wishing for a story of self discovery, rationalization and also the struggles he faced in his community. The author made a lot of good points but the book was disappointing nonetheless.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sarah loves books &#x1f63b;&#x1f63b;&#x1f63b;

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Funny and educational! The author apparently lives in my suburb too, I know who I’ll be watching out for over the next few weeks :)

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