Growing Up Muslim: Understanding the Beliefs and Practices of Islam

Growing Up Muslim: Understanding the Beliefs and Practices of Islam

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by Sumbul Ali-Karamali

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Author Sumbul Ali-Karamali offers her personal account, discussing the many and varied questions she fielded from curious friends and schoolmates while growing up in Southern California—from diet, to dress, to prayer and holidays and everything in between. She also provides an academically reliable introduction to Islam, addressing its inception, development and


Author Sumbul Ali-Karamali offers her personal account, discussing the many and varied questions she fielded from curious friends and schoolmates while growing up in Southern California—from diet, to dress, to prayer and holidays and everything in between. She also provides an academically reliable introduction to Islam, addressing its inception, development and current demographics.

Through this engaging work, readers will gain a better understanding of the everyday aspects of Muslim American life, to dispel many of the misconceptions that still remain and open a dialogue for tolerance and acceptance.

Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal - Audio
Gr 6 Up—In this personal account of growing up Muslim in Southern California, Ali-Karamali provides a comprehensive introduction to Islamic culture, beliefs, and religion in a straightforward and engaging manner. Divided into three parts, the work explains the fundamentals of Islam in easy-to-understand chapters that address practical subjects, such as what Muslims can eat and wear as well as more complex topics, such as the Muslim worldview, the origins of Islam, and the differences between the sects. Throughout the narrative, the author speaks with authority, yet she manages to keep the tone friendly, conversational and, at times, humorous. She talks about tolerance and acceptance and points out the similarities between the sibling religions of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism, such as their belief in the prophet Abraham and the practice of worshipping one God, which helps to dispel many preconceived ideas listeners may have held. She also emphasizes the diversity of Muslims worldwide who, like practitioners of other religions, may interpret religious guidelines differently but, ultimately, agree on the major tenets that unify them all. While the intended audience seems to be middle school students, listeners of all ages could benefit from this enlightening, well-researched overview of one of the major world religions.—Audrey Sumser, Cuyahoga County Public Library, Mayfield, OH
Children's Literature - Carlee Hallman
The beliefs and practices of Muslims in the United States are explained for young people. Did you know that the Muslim taboo on pork applies to marshmallows which may contain pork fat? Prayer times, fasting, and holidays are detailed. Thanksgiving is one holiday they enjoy along with other people in the United States. Giving to charity, going to Mecca, relationships between men and women, and what to wear are described. Muhammad's life and tenets of the Qur'an (Koran) are summarized. Descriptions of the Qur'an and commentaries are somewhat technical. A summary of the various divisions in the Muslim religion is given. The culture of a country influences the way this religion is practiced. Muslims in the United States come from many countries. Here women do not always wear head scarves, they are educated, and expect freedom. The author graduated from Stanford University and has a JD. She also has a graduate degree in Islamic Law. Young people will have some of their questions about the Muslim religion answered and understand their Muslim friends better. This is a must read for teens who value diversity in our country. Reviewer: Carlee Hallman
VOYA - Raima Shafiq
Growing Up Muslim talks about different positions of Muslim life. Being a Muslim, it is refreshing to see different points of view within each topic and the reasoning behind them. The book was written like a discussion and is more interesting than many others, which will keep readers from getting bored. The book covers the main and most controversial topics, like what friends like to refer it as the "food issue." Overall, the book was well written. Reviewer: Raima Shafiq, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Ellen Frank
Sumbul Ali-Karamali was one of few Muslims in her Southern California neighborhood. She was isolated from a large Muslim community and often had to explain her religious practices and beliefs to others. In the post 9-11 world, there are a lot of misunderstandings and prejudices against Muslim Americans. This book explains the beliefs of Muslims in a very friendly and warm fashion, with an emphasis on tolerance and understanding. Commonalities amongst Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are emphasized. Ali-Karamali details the problems all developing countries face and explains how religion is not always the reason for injustice. She also explains how culture and tradition play a central role in gender bias and that it is unfair to solely blame religion for the unequal treatment of women. The book is easy to read and understand and includes some tough questions teens may have about Islam. The author puts a very positive spin on Islam and tries to help the reader separate the fanatical behavior of some individuals from the main tenets. She explains how terrorism and murder are not part of Islam and that the Koran does not justify the cruelty and discrimination that is common in many parts of the world. Recommend this book to students with questions about Islam looking for some quick answers. It also may help the Islamic student who is looking for a way to navigate the questions he/she gets from his peers. Reviewer: Ellen Frank
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up—Ali-Karamali's primer offers an informal, highly personal introduction to Islam. Chronicling her experience growing up Muslim in California, she comfortably discusses major aspects of the faith such as prayer, fasting, and theology as well as food, fashion, and relationships, while connecting these topics to her daily life. The relaxed presentation makes the information more interesting and accessible to readers who would otherwise find it difficult to follow. The writing flows smoothly as if in conversation, making it understandable and appealing. However, the informality does not detract from the accuracy. A few diagrams and a select, scholarly list for further reading are included. This unique introduction is a good choice for dispelling misconceptions and prejudice about this faith, and will appeal to readers of human-interest stories.—Justin Parrott, Columbus Metropolitan Library, OH
Kirkus Reviews
Ali-Karamali offers plenty of anecdotes about growing up Muslim in America in a conversational tone that is undermined by poor organization. The work explores a range of questions that non-Muslims might have about followers of Islam. Ranging from a discussion of Muslim holidays or the kinds of clothes worn by Muslims to the development of Islam, the author explains these topics in a friendly, engaging manner. She provides several examples of Muslim practices around the world, going beyond her American experiences to reflect Islam's diversity. Chapters are organized into three fact-filled sections on beliefs and practices, the development of Islam and current Muslim demographics. Unfortunately, beginning with the practical questions about food, fasting and fashion delays important concepts such as how jihad is not equivalent to terrorism and whether Islam mandates women wear face veils (in a word, no). Compounding this basic conceptual flaw, this organizational choice necessitates clunky references to later chapters. Moreover, it is not until Chapter 4 that cited figures or quotes are provided references, an example of sloppy scholarship. Readers will find answers to basic questions about Muslims, yet they might not understand the bigger picture if they don't hang in until the end. (notes, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 12-16)

Product Details

Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 6.00(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range:
10 Years

Meet the Author

SUMBUL ALI-KARAMALI grew up in Southern California, answering questions about Islam. She holds a B.A. from Stanford University, a J. D. from the University of California at Davis, and a graduate degree in Islamic Law from the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies. She has served as a teaching assistant in Islamic Law at SOAS and a research associate at the Centre of Islamic and Middle Eastern Law in London. Her highly praised adult book is The Muslim Next Door: The Qur'an, the Media, and that Veil Thing, an academically reliable introduction to what Muslims believe and practice, but one written in the personal, anecdotal, everyday context of growing up Muslim in America.

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Growing Up Muslim: Understanding the Beliefs and Practices of Islam 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
crayolakym More than 1 year ago
This book is about the author, who grew up Muslim in California. She explains the Muslim religion, how it is celebrated, and the differences between non-Islamic and Islamic families. The book answers the questions people want to know like what do they eat, how do they dress, what kind of holidays do they have, who is Muhammad, the different types of Muslims, and are girls and boys treated differently? “I loved Thanksgiving. I loved making turkey-shaped place cards, and I loved pumpkin pie.” I really liked the chapter about the author growing up and seeing the magic of Christmas and how America makes a huge deal out of it and how disappointed she felt in her own festive holiday, Eid, because no one ever made a big deal out of it. I know my own feelings would feel very hurt. It was also neat to learn Muslims pray five times daily and, at the end of the prayers, they turn to each side and recite something. When they do this, they are talking to the two angels assigned to each Muslim to record all of their good and bad deeds. This was a good book. It helped me know more about the people in my life who are Muslim and understand why they wear different clothes and don’t eat pork. It’s okay to be different, and we can learn so much from people if they are willing to share their stories. *You can view the original review at City Book Review
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great for non-muslims curious about the people in their community who are muslim. Also great for muslim children who want to learn more about thei religion and who they are.