It is extremely refreshing to read a book in which American Muslim men speak for themselves, sharing about their faith on their own terms. The personal stories in All-American: 45 American men on being Muslim demonstrate the diversity of the Muslim experience in the U.S., free from the problematic limitations of stereotypes. Whether you are Muslim and want to read other Muslim voices, or whether you simply are curious about the American Muslim experience, I highly recommend this essay collection.
If you are Muslim, or have Muslim friends and loved ones, you already know that Muslim individuals are as varied as those of any other religious group. However, for Americans who do not have such relationships, the stereotypes commonly conveyed by the media can create strong misrepresentations. Muslim men get lumped together in a group that includes headline-makers who are not representative of the faith; violence and misogyny dominate. These images, and their accompanying fear and distaste, can get in the way of building real relationships with neighbors and colleagues. For this reason, I cannot underestimate the importance of this book. It provides a rich opportunity to hear the voices of a diverse group of people, shattering stereotypes and opening doors to understanding.
Editors Wajahat Ali and Zahra T. Suratwala have done an excellent job of gathering the stories of men from a variety of professional and ethnic backgrounds. Their stories are personal, direct, and powerful. Reading these essays is the next best thing to sitting across the table and listening in person.
I urge you to read All-American: 45 American men on being Muslim, and to consider providing a copy for your public library. Further, I hope that U.S. mosques will provide copies of this book to visitors, since it provides such a beautiful glimpse of lived faith. May we continue to build bridges across differences, and to grow in love for one another.
Disclosure: A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for review purposes. No fee was received for this review.