Publications

    If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Qurʼan
    Power, Carla. If the Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Qurʼan. 1st ed. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2015. View the BookAbstract
    If the Oceans Were Ink is Carla Power's story of how she and her longtime friend Sheikh Mohammad Akram Nadwi found a way to confront ugly stereotypes and persistent misperceptions that were cleaving their communities. Their friendship -- between a secular American and a madrasa-trained sheikh -- had always seemed unlikely, but now they were frustrated and bewildered by the battles being fought in their names. Both knew that a close look at the Quran would reveal a faith that preached peace and not mass murder; respect for women and not oppression. And so they embarked on a yearlong journey through the controversial text. A journalist who grew up in the Midwest and the Middle East, Power offers her unique vantage point on the Quran's most provocative verses as she debates with Akram at cafes, family gatherings, and packed lecture halls, conversations filled with both good humor and powerful insights. Their story takes them to madrasas in India and pilgrimage sites in Mecca, as they encounter politicians and jihadis, feminist activists and conservative scholars.
    How to Be a Muslim: An American Story
    Moghul, Haroon. How to Be a Muslim: An American Story. Boston: Beacon Press, 2017. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "Haroon Moghul was first thrust into the spotlight after 9/11, as an undergraduate leader at New York University's Islamic Center. Suddenly, he was making appearances everywhere: on TV, talking to interfaith audiences, combating Islamophobia in print. He was becoming a prominent voice for American Muslims. Privately, Moghul had a complicated relationship with Islam. In high school he was barely a believer and entirely convinced he was going to hell. He sometimes drank. He didn't pray regularly. All he wanted was a girlfriend. But as Haroon discovered, it wasn't so easy to leave religion behind. To be true to himself, he needed to forge a unique American Muslim identity that reflected his own beliefs and personality. How to Be a Muslim is the story of a young man coping with the crushing pressure of a world that shuns and fears Muslims, struggling with his faith and searching for intellectual forebears, and suffering the onset of bipolar disorder. This is the story of the second-generation immigrant, of what it's like to lose yourself between cultures, and how to pick up the pieces."
    We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir
    Habib, Samra. We Have Always Been Here: A Queer Muslim Memoir. Toronto: Viking, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "A queer Muslim searches for the language to express her truest self, making peace with her sexuality, her family, and Islam. Growing up in Pakistan, Samra Habib lacks a blueprint for the life she wants. She has a mother who gave up everything to be a pious, dutiful wife and an overprotective father who seems to conspire against a life of any adventure. Plus, she has to hide the fact that she's Ahmadi to avoid persecution from religious extremists. As the threats against her family increase, they seek refuge in Canada, where new financial and cultural obstacles await them. When Samra discovers that her mother has arranged her marriage, she must again hide a part of herself–the fun-loving, feminist teenager that has begun to bloom–until she simply can't any longer. So begins a journey of self-discovery that takes her to Tokyo, where she comes to terms with her sexuality, and to a queer-friendly mosque in Toronto, where she returns to her faith in the same neighbourhood where she attended her first drag show. Along the way, she learns that the facets of her identity aren't as incompatible as she was led to believe, and that her people had always been there–the world just wasn't ready for them yet."– provided by publisher.
    Love Thy Neighbor: A Muslim Doctor's Struggle for Home in Rural America
    Virji, Ayaz, and Alan Eisenstock. Love Thy Neighbor: A Muslim Doctor's Struggle for Home in Rural America. New York: Convergent, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    "A powerful true story about a Muslim doctor's service to a small town and the hope of overcoming our country's climate of hostility and fear. In 2013, Dr. Ayaz Virji left a comfortable job at an East Coast hospital and moved to a town of 1,400 in Minnesota, feeling called to address the shortage of doctors in rural America. But in 2016, this decision was tested when the reliably blue, working-class county swung for Donald Trump. Virji watched in horror as his children faced anti-Muslim remarks at school and some of his most loyal patients began questioning whether he belonged in the community. Virji wanted out. But in 2017, just as he was lining up a job in Dubai, a local pastor invited him to speak at her church and address misconceptions about what Muslims practice and believe. That invitation has grown into a well-attended lecture series that has changed hearts and minds across the state, while giving Virji a new vocation that he never would have expected. In [this book], Virji relates this story in a gripping, unforgettable narrative that shows the human consequences of our toxic politics, the power of faith and personal conviction, and the potential for a renewal of understanding in America's heartland."–Dust jacket
    Shaking the Gates of Hell: A Search for Family and Truth in the Wake of the Civil Rights Revolution
    Archibald, John. Shaking the Gates of Hell: A Search for Family and Truth in the Wake of the Civil Rights Revolution. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
    On growing up in the American South of the 1960s--an all-American white boy--son of a long line of Methodist preachers, in the midst of the civil rights revolution, and discovering the culpability of silence within the church. "My dad was a Methodist preacher and his dad was a Methodist preacher," writes John Archibald. "It goes all the way back on both sides of my family. When I am at my best, I think it comes from that sermon place." Everything Archibald knows and believes about life is "refracted through the stained glass of the Southern church. It had everything to do with people. And fairness. And compassion." In Shaking the Gates of Hell, Archibald asks: Can a good person remain silent in the face of discrimination and horror, and still be a good person? Archibald had seen his father, the Rev. Robert L. Archibald, Jr., the son and grandson of Methodist preachers, as a moral authority, a moderate and a moderating force during the racial turbulence of the '60s, a loving and dependable parent, a forgiving and attentive minister, a man many Alabamians came to see as a saint. But was that enough? Even though Archibald grew up in Alabama in the heart of the civil rights movement, he could recall few words about racial rights or wrongs from his father's pulpit at a time the South seethed, and this began to haunt him. In this moving and powerful book, Archibald writes of his complex search, and of the conspiracy of silence his father faced in the South, in the Methodist Church and in the greater Christian church. Those who spoke too loudly were punished, or banished, or worse. Archibald's father was warned to guard his words on issues of race to protect his family, and he did. He spoke to his flock in the safety of parable, and trusted in the goodness of others, even when they earned none of it, rising through the ranks of the Methodist Church, and teaching his family lessons in kindness and humanity, and devotion to nature and the Earth. Archibald writes of this difficult, at times uncomfortable, reckoning with his past in this unadorned, affecting book of growth and evolution.
    The Wrong End of the Table: A Mostly Comic Memoir of a Muslim Arab American Woman Just Trying to Fit in
    Salman, Ayser. The Wrong End of the Table: A Mostly Comic Memoir of a Muslim Arab American Woman Just Trying to Fit in. New York: Skyhorse Publishing, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

    "You know that feeling of being at the wrong end of the table? Like you’re at a party but all the good stuff is happening out of earshot (#FOMO)? That’s life—especially for an immigrant.

    What happens when a shy, awkward Arab girl with a weird name and an unfortunate propensity toward facial hair is uprooted from her comfortable (albeit fascist-regimed) homeland of Iraq and thrust into the cold, alien town of Columbus, Ohio—with its Egg McMuffins, Barbie dolls, and kids playing doctor everywhere you turned?

    This is Ayser Salman’s story. First comes Emigration, then Naturalization, and finally Assimilation—trying to fit in among her blonde-haired, blue-eyed counterparts, and always feeling left out. On her journey to Americanhood, Ayser sees more naked butts at pre-kindergarten daycare that she would like, breaks one of her parents’ rules (“Thou shalt not participate as an actor in the school musical where a male cast member rests his head in thy lap”), and other things good Muslim Arab girls are not supposed to do. And, after the 9/11 attacks, she experiences the isolation of being a Muslim in her own country. It takes hours of therapy, fifty-five rounds of electrolysis, and some ill-advised romantic dalliances for Ayser to grow into a modern Arab American woman who embraces her cultural differences.

    Part memoir and part how-not-to guide, The Wrong End of the Table is everything you wanted to know about Arabs but were afraid to ask, with chapters such as “Tattoos and Other National Security Risks,” “You Can’t Blame Everything on Your Period; Sometimes You’re Going to Be a Crazy Bitch: and Other Advice from Mom,” and even an open letter to Trump. This is the story of every American outsider on a path to find themselves in a country of beautiful diversity." --Publisher description.

    Heir to the Crescent Moon
    Abdur-Rahman, Sufiya. Heir to the Crescent Moon. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 2021. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
    "From age five, Sufiya Abdur-Rahman, the daughter of two Black Power-era converts to Islam, feels drawn to the faith even as her father, a devoted Muslim, introduces her to and, at the same time, distances her from it. He and her mother abandoned their Harlem mosque before she was born and divorced when she was twelve. Forced apart from her father--her portal into Islam--she yearns to reconnect with the religion and, through it, him. In Heir to the Crescent Moon, Abdur-Rahman's longing to comprehend her father's complicated relationship with Islam leads her first to recount her own history with it. Later, as she seeks to discover what both pulled her father to and pushed him from the mosque and her mother, Abdur-Rahman delves into the past. She journeys from the Christian righteousness of Adam Clayton Powell Jr.'s 1950s Harlem, through the Malcolm X-inspired college activism of the late 1960s, to the unfulfilled potential of the early-'70s' black American Muslim movement. When a painful reminder of the reason for her father's inconsistent ties to his former mosque appears to threaten his life, Abdur-Rahman's search nearly ends. She's forced to come to terms with her Muslim identity, and learns how events from generations past can reverberate through the present. Told, at times, with lighthearted humor or heartbreaking candor, Abdur-Rahman's story of adolescent Arabic lessons, fasting, and Muslim mosque, funeral, and eid services speaks to the challenges of bridging generational and cultural divides and what it takes to maintain family amidst personal and societal upheaval. Writing with quiet beauty but intellectual force about identity, community, violence, hope, despair, and faith, Abdur-Rahman weaves a vital tale about a family: black, Muslim, and distinctly American"-- Provided by publisher.
    Dear Senthuran: A Black spirit memoir
    Emezi, Akwaeke. Dear Senthuran: A Black spirit memoir. New York: Riverhead Books, 2021. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
    "In three critically acclaimed novels, Akwaeke Emezi has introduced readers to a landscape marked by familial tensions, Igbo belief systems, and a boundless search for what it means to be free. Now, in this extraordinary memoir, the bestselling author of The Death of Vivek Oji reveals the harrowing yet resolute truths of their own life. Through candid, intimate correspondence with friends, lovers, and family, Emezi traces the unfolding of a self and the unforgettable journey of a creative spirit stepping into power in the human world. Their story weaves through transformative decisions about their gender and body, their precipitous path to success as a writer, and the turmoil of relationships on an emotional, romantic, and spiritual plane, culminating in a book that is as tender as it is brutal. Electrifying and inspiring, animated by the same voracious intelligence that distinguishes Emezi's fiction, Dear Senthuran is a revelatory account of storytelling, self, and survival." - Publisher description.
    Modern Muslims: A Sudan Memoir
    Howard, W. Stephen. Modern Muslims: A Sudan Memoir. Athens: Ohio University Press, 2016. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
    "Steve Howard departed for the Sudan in the early 1980s as an American graduate student beginning a three-year journey in which he would join and live with the Republican Brotherhood, the Sufi Muslim group led by the visionary Mahmoud Mohamed Taha. Taha was a religious intellectual who participated in the early days of Sudan's anticolonial struggle, but quickly turned his movement into a religious reform effort based on his radical reading of the Qur'an. He was executed in 1985 for apostasy.

    Decades after returning to the life of an academic in the United States, Howard brings us this memoir of his time with the Republican Brotherhood, who advocated, among other things, equality for women. Modern Muslims describes Howard's path to learning not only about Islam and Sufism but also about Sudan's history and culture. When the Brotherhood was thrust into confrontation with Sudan's then-president Jaafar Nimeiry, Howard had a front-line perspective on the difficult choices communities make as they try to reform and practice their faith freely.

    As well as a story of personal transformation, the book offers an insider's perspective on a modernist nonviolent Islamic movement that thrived and was brutally suppressed. An important book for our times, Modern Muslims yields significant insights for our understanding of modern Islam, African history, and contemporary geopolitics." - Publisher description.