War on Error: Real Stories of American Muslims

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War on Error brings together the stories of twelve young people, all vastly different but all American, and all Muslim. Their approaches to religion couldn’t be more diverse: from a rapper of Korean and Egyptian descent to a bisexual Sudanese American to a converted white woman from Colorado living in Cairo and wearing the hijab. These individuals, whether they were born to the religion or came to it on their own, have made their own decisions about how observant they’ll be, whether or not to fast, how often to pray, and what to wear. Though each story is unique, each is also seen through the searching eyes of Melody Moezzi, herself an American Muslim of Iranian descent. She finds that the people she interviews are horrified that, in a post-9/11 world, they have seen their religion come to be represented, in the minds of many Americans, by terrorism. These thoughtful and articulate individuals represent the truth about the faith and its adherents who are drawn to the logic, compassion, and tolerance they find in Muslim teachings. Moezzi, ever comfortable with contradiction and nuance, is a likable narrator whose underlying assumption that “faith is greater than dogma” is strengthened as she learns more about her religion and faces her own biases and blind spots. This fresh new voice, combined with the perceptions and experiences of her fellow American Muslims, make for a read that is both illuminating and enjoyable.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Engaging and well-written." —Publisher's Weekly "A thoughtful and moving effort to come to terms with being an American Muslim from a positive and proactive perspective.” —From the foreword "These voices should be heard and these stories must be told.” —Suzanne Blum, coauthor of Translating Culture: A Rhetoric for Ethnographic Writing in the Composition Classroom
Publishers Weekly

Moezzi, an American-raised lawyer of Iranian descent, proposes to tell the stories of young American Muslims, of which she is one. She notes the plight of being a "Child of Fresh off the Boat" (or COFOB), including being mistaken frequently as Hispanic, and feeling caught between solidarity with America over 9/11 but critical of American foreign policy choices although she criticizes the Muslim community for ignorance and severe gender segregation, among other things. Despite its promising subject matter, however, the book has an unimaginative format of one interview per chapter, with no larger framework or unifying theme. Most interview subjects are Moezzi's own friends, some of whom Moezzi even quotes as praising her. Some readers, particularly Muslims, may be offended by an incident in which the author smokes marijuana with an interview subject, as well as other scenes in which she and her friends present themselves as self-indulgent. Although it is engaging and well written, the book lacks academic rigor and comes across as merely anecdotal. The title is never really explained, and Moezzi's conclusion-that American Muslims will lead the next Islamic Renaissance-though an appealing thought, is underdeveloped. (Dec. 10)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
I am starring this review, knowing full well it is an unusual book that will infuriate many readers, because I am fascinated by Moezzi's interviews, telling the life stories and faith stories of 12 American Muslims. They will change forever the way most readers understand Islam. The 12 are young professionals, most in their 20s, very bright and articulate. Many are COFOB (children of immigrants fresh off the boat, as Melody calls them, including herself, whose parents are from Iran); two are white American converts to Islam--Michael, Melody's husband, and Sarah, an American living in Cairo. I had heard one of the interviewees on NPR, Asra Q. Nomani, author of Standing Alone in Mecca. A young woman who worked as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal for years, she returned from the horror of her friend Daniel Pearl's death in Pakistan to give birth to her son as an unmarried woman, sheltered by her family in West Virginia. Asra is a feminist activist determined to change practices such as the separation of men and women during prayers in mosques. Moezzi believes it is possible that an Islamic renaissance could happen in America, among educated American Muslims, accustomed to reason and the pursuit of justice. She herself is a lawyer in Atlanta, and her mentor at the law school at Emory is Professor Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na'im, who has written the foreword to Moezzi's book. Moezzi writes, "It is a basic teaching of Islam, Christianity, and Judaism that only God is fit to judge us, but somehow this teaching has escaped the minds of so many Muslims, Christians, and Jews, especially when it comes to issues relating to sexuality." In fact, Faisal A., one of her interviewees, isopenly gay, the founder of the world's largest Muslim GLBTIQ organization, whose members frequently get death threats. Faisal says he believes God would not have created him as he is only to repudiate him. Each of the 12 is unique, and it is impossible to make generalizations about them--except that all identify themselves as American and Muslim. For all of them, their faith is central to their lives. They each are appalled by the events of 9/11 and wish to separate themselves from the current American media portrayal of Islam as a religion of fanatical terrorists. This unusual book will make all readers, whether Muslim, from another faith, or skeptics, reconsider their own understanding of Islam. It will especially speak to readers from immigrant families who are trying to reconcile what they have learned and experienced in America with the traditions of their parents. Age Range: Ages 15 to adult. REVIEWER: Claire Rosser (Vol. 42, No. 1)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557288554
  • Publisher: University of Arkansas Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2007
  • Edition description: New
  • Pages: 150
  • Sales rank: 1,473,712
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Melody Moezzi is a recent graduate of the Emory University School of Law and Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, and she is the founder of Insha’Allah, an Atlanta-based group devoted to peace, noncompulsion in any faith, and the recognition of equality across race, gender, and sexuality.
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Read an Excerpt

"Though much has been written and said about 'Islamic fundamentalism' post 9, the real stories of Muslim Americans have received little attention . . . I wrote this book because I have faith that Americans can and want to see past the sensationalism to something real."--From the Introduction

"A thoughtful and moving effort to come to terms with being an American Muslim from a positive and proactive perspective."--from the Foreword
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2007

    A reviewer

    We read this book as part of our English class and even had Moezzi come and speak to us. Her cadence and style of writing lends itself to an amazing book. It really gives perspective into the true lives of Muslims, totally debasing the terrorist aspect. Very enjoyable to read! WELL DONE!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted June 25, 2009

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