• Bronze Medal Winner of the Independent Publishers Award 2009 -
Since 9/11, stories about Muslims and the Islamic world have flooded headlines, politics, and water-cooler conversations all across the country. And, although Americans hear about Islam on a daily basis, there remains no clear explanation of Islam or its people. The Muslim Next Door offers easy-to-understand yet academically sound answers to these questions while also dispelling commonly held misconceptions. Written from the point of view of an American Muslim, the book addresses what readers in the Western world are most curious about, beginning with the basics of Islam and how Muslims practice their religion before easing into more complicated issues like jihad, Islamic fundamentalism, and the status of women in Islam. Author Sumbul Ali-Karamali’s vivid anecdotes about growing up Muslim and female in the West, along with her sensitive, scholarly overview of Islam, combine for a uniquely insightful look at the world’s fastest growing religion.
|Publisher:||White Cloud Press|
|Edition description:||New Edition|
|Product dimensions:||5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)|
About the Author
Sumbul Ali-Karamali grew up in California, balancing her South Asian, Muslim, and American identities. Often the only Muslim her acquaintances knew, she had ample practice answering questions about Islam and Muslims. ("What do you mean you can't go to the prom because of your religion?") While working as a corporate lawyer, she was repeatedly asked to recommend books on Islam, so she decided to write a book that was both academically reliable and entertaining to read. Consequently, she moved to London and earned her L.L.M. in Islamic Law from the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies. She 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, and then she wrote The Muslim Next Door for everyone who ever asked or wanted to ask a question about Islam.
Table of Contents
Everyday Islam: How Muslims Practice Their Religion 5
Some Basic Islamic Concepts and How Islam Fits into the Judeo-Christian Tradition 33
The Story of an Arab, an Angel, and the God of Abraham: Muhammad and the Birth of Islam 48
The Qur'an: What It Is and Why Quoting It Can Be Problematic 62
Who's Who in Islam: From Ayatollahs to Whirling Dervishes 83
Religious Hierarchy: Who Makes the Rules in Islam? 99
Women in Islam: Marriage, Divorce, Polygamy, and that Veil Thing 117
Jihad and Fundamentalism: Not the Same 167
Theft and Adultery in Islam: Reflections on Disney's Aladdin 198
An American Muslim Reaction to September 11th 210
Why the Misconceptions Persist: Separating the Reality from the Murky Mythology 217
Questions for Discussion 248
Suggested Reading List 274
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The Muslim faith was a little scary to me so I thought it was important to read this book and learn first hand about an American Muslim's experience. I was surprised how deeply Sumbul's straightforward expression of her beliefs touched me, since they were so much like mine, though I'm a Christian and former nun. I started to wish she really did live next door so we could compare ideas and share stories. I recommend this book as a good read, especially at this time in US and world history.
This is a wonderfully written book by an American Islamic legal scholar who writes about Islam in a light, conversational style that captured my attention and made we want to keep reading. Ali-Karamali cuts through much of the misunderstanding and misconception about Islam 'propogated by Muslims and non-Muslims alike' by often going directly to the verses of the Koran and placing the verses and their subsequent interpretation in the proper context. She is not afraid to take on difficult and controversial issues and presents a balanced perspective in areas where the authorities disagree. Despite the sometimes meaty topics covered, The Muslim Next Door is a pleasure to read because it is intermixed with anecdotes and examples of Muslim practices and customs -- overall, I was left with the impression of a pleasant and illuminating conversation with the author. I have tried reading quite a few other books about Islam, and have been unable to make it all the way through. Not the case with this one!
For about four years, I began a study on the Middle East and the lives of Muslims. Having read several books on the history of the Middle East, I have come to appreciate the complex culture of that region and the turmoil caused by shifting alliances, civil strife, and the aggression of many nations into the area. In essence, I understand why the present day Middle East is in flux, trying to find balance, peace and yet assert its right to autonomy and respect. What has endured even more than tribal laws and borders is the religion of Islam. However, even to understand Islam is a difficult journey and fraught with misconceptions and opposing interpretations by scholars and even by individual Muslims. When I came across Sumbul Ali-Karamali's book, The Muslim next door, I knew I'd found a reference that I could trust to help me understand Islam in basic terms. She discusses all aspects of being a Muslim and how she enjoys a close relationship with her faith and Allah. I hear her excitement when she speaks of knowing that Islam guides her to living a peaceful life, a fruitful life, and passionate life. I hear her reverence when quoting passages from the Koran, teachings that encourage tolerance, peaceful co-existence with other religions, respect, fairness. I loved her sense of humor and light hearted approach concerning challenges she had to face growing up in an American community with very few other Muslims. In spite of having experienced bigotry and relationships of closed-minded people, she has risen above the impulse to blame an entire culture based on the misguided actions of a few. Anyone who is curious about Muslims and Islam should read her book. I'm wishing I had the good fortune of living beside a Muslim.