Saturday, January 11, 2014

Muslim American Youth

Central to this book are Muslim American youth at the dawn of the twenty-first century who are preoccupied by this conundrum, one that American Muslims have been grappling with for decades. What makes Islam belong to a place? Can Islam be an American religion without being compromised, diluted, assimilated? Living with both the possibility and the impossibility of Islam being an American religion, American Muslims have internalized what the great black scholar W. E. B. Du Bois referred to as double consciousness, "a peculiar wrenching of the soul, a peculiar sense of doubt and bewilderment. Such a double life, with double thoughts, double duties, and double classes, must give rise to double worlds and double ideals, and tempt the mind to pretense or to revolt, to hypocrisy or to radicalism." [12] Through the journeys of American Muslim seekers abroad, through their studies, struggles, and soul-wrenching debates about their place in the US and in the world, Islam Is a Foreign Country offers an account of deeply religious and politically disaffected American Muslim youth. They are not "homegrown" terrorists, but they fit what has become the de facto profile of "radicalized" Muslim youth, in their opposition to the political status quo, their global vision of justice, their attachments to Muslims abroad, and their sense of alienation from the American mainstream. Perhaps it is their idealism that is most radical, the persistence with which they desire a home.
Zareena Grewal, Islam Is a Foreign Country: American Muslims and the Global Crisis of Authority. (New York: NYU Press, 2014), 7.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

"Before he was a Muslim,

Zayd ibn Sa'na came to him [the Prophet Muhammad] demanding that he repay a debt to him. He [Zayd] pulled his [the Prophet's] garment from his shoulder, seized hold of him and behaved coarsely to the Prophet, saying, "Banu 'Abdu'l-Muttalib, you are procrastinating." 'Umar chased him off and spoke harshly to him while the Prophet merely smiled. The Messenger of Allah said, "'Umar, he and I need something else from you. Command me to repay well and command him to ask for his debt well." Then he said, "I still owe him three." 'Umar commanded that he be paid and he added twenty sa' more since he had alarmed him. That according to Zayd's explanation, was the reason him becoming Muslim. He said, "There were only two remaining signs of prophethood which I had not yet recognized in Muhammad or noticed: forbearance overcoming quick-temperedness and extreme ignorance only increasing him in forbearance. I tested him for these and I found him as described. [Al-Bayhaqi, Ibn Hibban, at-Tabarani and Aby Nu'aym. Its isnad is sound.

-Muhammad: Messenger of Allah: Ash-Shifa of Qadi 'Iyad, translated by Aisha Bewley, pg. 57

On the Prophet's forbearance, long-suffering and pardon

It is related that when the Prophet had his tooth broken and his face cut on the day of the Battle of Uhud, it was practically unbearable for his Companions. They said, "If only you would invoke a curse against them." He replied, "I was not sent to curse, but I was sent as a summoner and as a mercy. O Allah, guide my people for they do not know."
-Muhammad: Messenger of Allah: Ash-Shifa of Qadi 'Iyad, translated by Aisha Bewley, pg. 55

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New Book: Zareena Grewal: "Islam Is a Foreign Country: American Muslims and the Global Crisis of Authority"

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.