Title: The Muslim Next Door: The Qur’an, the Media, and That Veil Thing
Author: Sumbul Ali-Karamali
Publication Year: 2008
Source: Review copy from the publisher
From the cover:
Since 9/11, stories about Muslims and the Islamic world have flooded headlines, politics, and water-cooler conversations all across the country. And, although Americans hear about Islam on a daily basis, there remains no clear explanation of Islam or its people. The Muslim Next Door offers easy-to-understand yet academically sound answers to these questions while also dispelling commonly held misconceptions. Written from the point of view of an American Muslim, the book addresses what readers in the Western world are most curious about, beginning with the basics of Islam and how Muslims practice their religion before easing into more complicated issues like jihad, Islamic fundamentalism, and the status of women in Islam. Author Sumbul Ali-Karamali’s vivid anecdotes about growing up Muslim and female in the West, along with her sensitive, scholarly overview of Islam, combine for a uniquely insightful look at the world’s fastest growing religion.
This book was really good as a slightly-more-than-basic primer to Islam for non-Muslims.
What I really enjoyed was the breadth of topics that the author covered, and the no-nonsense, frank and honest way with which she talked about them. I was really taken in by the voice she used throughout the book, which was very similar to the way you’d talk to a neighbour or a friend. She went into quite a bit of detail on many of the issues, far more than many of the other “intro to Islam”-type books that I’ve read before.
Having said that, there were a few issues that she glanced over (or over-simplified a bit). And she definitely approaches Islam from a slightly-left-of-orthodox point of view in some cases, so you should be aware of that going in. She’s a bit more conservative than, say, I am, but that’s common across the board; in fact, she’s closer to my leanings than almost any other book I’ve read about Islam.
So definitely pick this one up if you’re interested in a book that discusses some hard issues regarding Islam, but in a way that’s accessible to believers and non-believers alike.