We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

Islam Is a Foreign Country

American Muslims and the Global Crisis of Authority

Zareena Grewal

Publication Year: 2013

In Islam Is a Foreign Country, Zareena Grewal explores some of the most pressing debates about and among American Muslims: what does it mean to be Muslim and American? Who has the authority to speak for Islam and to lead the stunningly diverse population of American Muslims? Do their ties to the larger Muslim world undermine their efforts to make Islam an American religion?
Offering rich insights into these questions and more, Grewal follows the journeys of American Muslim youth who travel in global, underground Islamic networks. Devoutly religious and often politically disaffected, these young men and women are in search of a home for themselves and their tradition. Through their stories, Grewal captures the multiple directions of the global flows of people, practices, and ideas that connect U.S. mosques to the Muslim world. By examining the tension between American Muslims’ ambivalence toward the American mainstream and their desire to enter it, Grewal puts contemporary debates about Islam in the context of a long history of American racial and religious exclusions. Probing the competing obligations of American Muslims to the nation and to the umma (the global community of Muslim believers), Islam is a Foreign Country investigates the meaning of American citizenship and the place of Islam in a global age.
Zareena Grewal is Assistant Professor of American Studies and Religious Studies at Yale University and Director for the Center for the Study of American Muslims at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.

Published by: NYU Press


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 1-9


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. ix-x

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. xi-xiv

It is my pleasure to thank the people and institutions that have made this book possible. First and foremost, I am deeply indebted to the long list of Muslim students, teachers, and public intellectuals in the US and the Middle East patient and generous enough to allow me to interview them. ...

read more

Introduction: Unmapping the Muslim World

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 1-28

On a sweltering July afternoon, I absently drove through a neighborhood known as the heart of Arab Detroit. The quiet suburb of Dearborn, Michigan, is famously home to the headquarters of the Ford Motor Company and also home to at least thirty thousand Arab Americans. “The Middle East in the Midwest,” as Dearborn is often dubbed, ...

Part I: The Roots and Routes of Islam in America

read more

1. Islam Is a Foreign Country: Mapping the Global Crisis of Authority

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 31-78

With the first blue light of morning, Usman waits at Damascus International Airport for a young Muslim American stranger.1 As always, Usman will help him with the heavy suitcases; he will find him a suitable, furnished, and reasonably priced apartment and make the introductions to appropriate tutors; ...

read more

2. Islamic Utopias, American Dystopia: Muslim Moral Geographies after the Great Migration

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 79-124

Over and over, Omar stumbles through the same difficult letters, his mumbling accompanied only by the buzz of fluorescent lights and the clicking of misbah beads in Ahmad’s hand. Hours dragged by: Omar at the uncomfortable classroom desk, head in his hands, and his teacher Ahmad, leaning back in a chair with his eyes closed, listening and nodding. ...

read more

3. Imaginary Homelands, American Dreams: Sunni Moral Geographies after 1965

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 125-174

Usman remembers his arrival to Damascus—on a one-way ticket, with only his ambitions, a small suitcase of books and clothes, and a list of classical books he wanted to study—with some embarrassment. “In college, you read, say, five books in a course in any given semester. ...

Part II: Tradition Bound

read more

4. Retrieving Tradition: Pedagogical Forms and Secular Reforms

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 177-218

After a long semester in Jordan, Richard’s tutor, Amin, announces that he has to return home to Damascus before his wife has their baby. Richard likes Amin, and since he already has a tourist visa, he decides to follow him to Syria. Richard finds the ugly beauty of Damascus’s dusty, winding roads and aged, crumbling buildings far more appealing ...

read more

5. Choosing Tradition: Women Student-Travelers between Resistance and Submission

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 219-252

Maryam and I make our way across the cool marble courtyard of Al- Azhar Mosque, passing young boys from all over the world reciting Quran in small circles and older students frowning into thick manuals. We enter the room marked “The Turkish Corner” and approach Maryam’s Malaysian girlfriends, ...

read more

6. Transmitting Tradition: The Constraints of Crisis

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 253-291

The familiar flat is noisier and more crowded than usual because today is a party, celebrating Fawzia’s successful recitation exam and her receipt of an ijaza. A large sheet cake congratulates her in pink icing on the dining-room table. Cold drinks are passed from hand to hand, and the young children, usually restricted to a bedroom and a babysitter, ...

read more

7. Muslim Reformers and the American Media: The Exceptional Umma and Its Emergent Moral Geography

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 292-346

Usman came back to the US with his wife and two sons. He got a graduate degree and a job as an imam in a leafy, suburban mosque community. But he never felt satisfied; he never felt as though he was putting what he had learned to its proper use. As an imam, he helped some troubled couples patch things up, taught a few law classes, ...

read more

Epilogue: American Muslims and the Place of Dissent

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 347-356

On January 25, 2011, Egyptians from all social backgrounds—young and old, men and women, Christian and Muslim, gay and straight, middle class and working poor, Islamists and Marxists—marched in cities across Egypt and began an eighteen-day protest that captivated the world. ...


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 357-388


pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 389-394

read more

About the Author

pdf iconDownload PDF
pp. 395-410

Zareena Grewal is Assistant Professor of American Studies, Religious Studies, Middle East Studies, and the Program in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration at Yale University. She is a historical anthropologist and documentary filmmaker and has directed and produced two films for television, ...

E-ISBN-13: 9781479800193
E-ISBN-10: 1479800198
Print-ISBN-13: 9781479800889
Print-ISBN-10: 1479800880

Page Count: 400
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 860711621
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Islam Is a Foreign Country

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • United States -- Ethnic relations.
  • Islam -- United States.
  • Ummah (Islam).
  • Muslim youth -- Religious life -- United States.
  • Muslim youth -- United States -- Attitudes.
  • Social integration -- United States.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access