Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jamillah Karim's American Muslim Women: Negotating Race, Class and Gender Within the Ummah

What a book! I just got it yesterday alhamdullilah. It came out this year (2009) from NYU Press :)

It just deeply moves me to see and begin to read something like this - something about us - our community, today - realities, struggles and challenges for us to first know and think about and grapple with (all the better equipped for that I think by informed analysis ma sha Allah from someone writing within the community, a professor of religious studies who studies race, ethnicity, immigration and transnational identity)

Here are some quotes from the introduction that I just read:

"American Muslim Women is a multilayered, ethnographic account of race relations in the American ummah, told through the voices of African American and South Asian Muslim women." (3)

"African Americans and South Asians are two of the largest ethnic Muslim groups in the United States. Drawing on interviews with a diverse group of women from these two communities, this book considers what it means for them to negotiate religious sisterhood in the face of America's race and class hierarchies. " (3-4)

"To be Muslim in America, therefore, means to claim a faith tradition marked by both African American and immigrant struggles." (4)

"The largely African American and immigrant makeup of the American ummah presents an important angle from which to analyze race relations, one that includes race, religion, and immigration. Immigration has broadened our analysis of race in the United States. In area radially altered by the influx of non-European immigrants, new forms of American racism have developed that extend beyond black-white color line while simultaneously reinforcing it." (5)

"This book, however, looks at how religious identity influences race relations and how race affects religious identity." (6)

"Independent of the American context, the concept of ummah has a double meaning of sisterhood and brotherhood and also justice...Given the inequalities resulting from the legacy of racism in the United States, it is this double commitment that makes ummah ideals also doubly relevant to the American context. [Quoting Robert Bach in Changing Relations: Newcomers and Established Residents in U.S. Communities (1993)] "The challenge of America may be less in harmonizing relations among groups than in mobilizing intergroup cooperation into strategies for economic and political advancement." (6-7)

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