Islam Is a Foreign Country
American Muslims and the Global Crisis of Authority
Publication Year: 2013
Published by: NYU Press
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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. ...
Introduction: Unmapping the Muslim World
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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
1. Islam Is a Foreign Country: Mapping the Global Crisis of Authority
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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; ...
2. Islamic Utopias, American Dystopia: Muslim Moral Geographies after the Great Migration
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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. ...
3. Imaginary Homelands, American Dreams: Sunni Moral Geographies after 1965
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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
4. Retrieving Tradition: Pedagogical Forms and Secular Reforms
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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 ...
5. Choosing Tradition: Women Student-Travelers between Resistance and Submission
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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, ...
6. Transmitting Tradition: The Constraints of Crisis
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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, ...
7. Muslim Reformers and the American Media: The Exceptional Umma and Its Emergent Moral Geography
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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, ...
Epilogue: American Muslims and the Place of Dissent
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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. ...
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About the Author
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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, ...
Page Count: 400
Publication Year: 2013