A galvanizing look at constitutional freedoms in the United States through the prism of attacks on the rights of American Muslims.
Religious liberty lawyerAsmaUddin has long considered her work defending people of all faiths to be a calling more than a job. Yet even as she seeks equal protection for Evangelicals, Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, Native Americans, Jews, and Catholics alike, she has seen an ominous increase in attempts to criminalize Islam and exclude American Muslims from their inalienable rights.
Somehow, the view that Muslims aren’t human enough for human rights or constitutional protections is moving from the fringe to the mainstreamalong with the claim “Islam is not a religion.”This conceit affectsall Americans becausethe loss of liberty for one means the loss of liberties for everyone.
When Islam Is Not a Religionalso looks at how faith in America is being secularized and politicized, and the repercussions this has on debates about religious freedom and diversity.
Woven throughout this national saga is Uddin’s own story.She combines her experience as a person of Muslim faith and her legal and philosophical appreciation that all individuals have a right to religious liberty. Uddin examines the shifting tides of American culture and outlines a way forward for individuals and communities navigating today’sculture wars.
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About the Author
Asma T. Uddin is a religious liberty lawyer who has worked on cases at the U.S. Supreme Court, federal appellate courts, and federal trial courts. She is the founding editor-in-chief of altmuslimah.com and was an executive producer for the Emmy and Peabody-nominated docuseries, The Secret Life of Muslims. She has written for the New York
Times, the Washington Post, and Teen Vogue. Asma lives in Washington, DC.
Table of Contents
Part I "Stop the Islamization of America."
Chapter 1 "Islam is not a religion." 31
Chapter 2 "I think Islam hates us." 65
Chapter 3 "What is religious freedom, anyway?" 104
Chapter 4 "You have to deal with the mosques." 139
Chapter 5 "What is sharia and why does it matter?" 176
Part II "Good" versus "Bad" Muslims
Chapter 6 "If you hate terror, stay here." 213
Chapter 7 "Why hijab?" 251
Chapter 8 "Who you gonna call? Religious Liberty Task Force!" 280
About the Author 323
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Americans began to challenge and persecute Muslims after 9-11. In 2010, for example, assailants burned a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. In 2017 and 18, President Trump tried to institute a travel ban for Muslim majority countries. And in 2015, three Muslims student at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, were gunned down in their apartment. In an excellent new book called “When Islam is not a Religion, Asma Uddin, a religious liberty lawyer, systemically demonstrates how Americans attempt to define Islam as a political system instead of a religion. Uddin outlines early attempts to portray Islam as a political system in the early chapters of the book. She reviews speeches and interviews by commentators, television hosts, and political leaders and shows how they cast Islam as a terrorist organization. For example, Bill Mahr, a television host, argues that Islam is not a religion of peace and compares it to a Mafia organization. Michael Flynn, President Trump’s National Security Advisor, called Islam a political ideology. Steve Bannon, a conservative who served in President Trump’s early administration as a chief strategist, called Islam “a religion of submission.” And President Trump told a campaign audience that “Islam hates us.” In chapter three, perhaps the best chapter in the book, Uddin traces the development of religious liberty and shows how bias against Islam creeps into judicial decision-making. Muslims face hurdles in the legal system that others do not. In early 2019, for example, prison authorities in Alabama refused to allow a Muslim death row inmate to have an imam present. The Supreme Court supported the lower court. In another prison, an inmate wanted to grow a half-inch beard according to his religion. Prison authorities refused. Lower courts deferred to the prison, but the Supreme Court overruled the lower courts. Bias? Uddin argues that stereotypes about Muslims colored these early cases. Uddin addresses hot button issues like Sharia Law and the hijab in the latter chapters of the book. She dispels the stereotypes that have led forty-three states to consider bans against Sharia Law. She notes, for example, that Sharia Law is not a political system but rather a code by which Muslims live in order to achieve salvation. Just as Christians live by a code called the Ten Commandments, Muslims live by universal maxims that enhance their spiritual life. In Chapter 7, Uddin explores how the hijab has become a political symbol. She notes that some Muslim women take off their headscarf because they fear for their safety. Uddin, a Muslim whose family came here from Pakistan, writes that politicization of the hijab eroded her spirituality “because it tied me indelibly to the world and how it saw me.” Uddin’s book is both readable and engaging. On one level, it is a terrific review of the many ways in which the media and courts attempt to portray Islam as a political or terrorist organization. It’s also an excellent review of the development of religious liberty in this country. Uddin has a knack for boiling down complex but seminal court cases like Sherbert v. Verner from which the idea of strict scrutiny developed. Finally, Uddin helps us to understand Sharia Law as a religious law rather than a political law and how the politicization of the hijab has frightened many Muslim women and forced them to take off their headscarves.
An exceptionally well-written and thought provoking analysis of the impact American jurisprudence has had on the constitutional rights of Muslim American in today's post 9/11 era.