Islam and Muslim Cultures in America and Around the World

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Islam and Muslim Cultures in America and Around the World

Resources from the Library Collection and D.C. Community

Starting with the Muslim Journeys series in 2013, the library has compiled a list of materials from across the collection in the service of learning about and celebrating Islam and Muslim cultures. You can learn more about the Muslim Journeys events, narratives, sponsors, and partners at the link above.

This list is meant to provide a broad sample of available resources, inspired by the Muslim Journeys reading lists and representative of the selection available in the library catalog, collection of databases, and within the D.C. community. You are welcome to suggest additions to the list by contacting the library. Skip to a specific reading list using the anchors below.


The Columbia Sourcebook of Muslims in the United States, Edward E. Curtis IV, editor: "Sampling from speeches, interviews, editorials, stories, song lyrics, articles, autobiographies, blogs, and other sources, Curtis presents a patchwork narrative of Muslims from different ethnic and class backgrounds, religious orientations, and political affiliations."

The Story of the Qur'an : Its History and Place in Muslim Life, Ingrid Mattson: "Through a close examination of the doctrines in the Qur'an, Mattson reveals their significance to individual Muslims and the societies in which they live. Other key themes addressed include the Qur'an's most important historical interpretations, significant figures who transmitted and taught the sacred scripture over the centuries, and the influence of the Qur'an on major aspects of Muslim society -- including personal relationships, popular culture, political movements, science, and literature."

Acts of Faith: the Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation, Eboo Patel: "The author, a young American Muslim of Indian background, juxtaposes his college years as an angry young radical with a description of how he came to see the possibilities of religious pluralism and founded the Interfaith Youth Core."

Muhammad: a Very Short Introduction, Jonathan A. C. Brown: "An introduction to the major aspects of Muhammad's life and its importance, providing both Muslim and Western historical perspectives. It explains the prominent roles that Muhammad's persona has played in the Islamic world throughout history, from the medieval to the modern period."

Reading Lolita in Tehran, a Memoir in Books, Azar Nafisi: "Azar Nafisi's tale offers a fascinating portrait of the Iran-Iraq war viewed from Tehran and gives us a rare glimpse, from the inside, of women's lives in revolutionary Iran."

A Quiet Revolution: the Veil's Resurgence, from the Middle East to America, Leila Ahmed: "In Cairo in the 1940s, Leila Ahmed was raised by a generation of women who never dressed in the veils and headscarves their mothers and grandmothers had worn. Today, however, the majority of Muslim women again wear the veil. Ahmed explores why this change took root so swiftly and what the shift means for women."

The Butterfly Mosque: a Young American Woman's Journey to Love and Islam, G. Willow Wilson: "The extraordinary story of a young North American's conversion to Islam and her ensuing romance with an Egyptian man, 
The Butterfly Mosque is a stunning articulation of a Westerner embracing the Muslim world."

Prince Among Slaves, Terry Alford: "In this remarkable work, Terry Alford tells the story of Abd al Rahman Ibrahima, a Muslim slave who, in 1807, was recognized by an Irish ship's surgeon as the son of an African king who had saved his life many years earlier."

When Asia Was the World, Stewart Gordon: "While European intellectual, cultural, and commercial life stagnated during the early medieval period, Asia flourished as the wellspring of science, philosophy, and religion. Linked together by a web of religious, commercial, and intellectual connections, the different regions of Asia's vast civilization, from Arabia to China, hummed with commerce, international diplomacy, and the brisk exchange of ideas. "

The House of Wisdom: How Arabic Science Saved Ancient Knowledge and Gave Us the Renaissance, Jim Al-Khalili: " Inspired by the Koranic injunction to study closely all of God's works, rulers throughout the Islamic world funded armies of scholars who gathered and translated Persian, Sanskrit, and Greek texts. From the ninth through the fourteenth centuries, these scholars built upon those foundations a scientific revolution that bridged the one-thousand-year gap between the ancient Greeks and the European Renaissance."

House of Stone: a Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East, Anthony Shadid: "In 2006, Shadid, an Arab-American raised in Oklahoma, was covering Israel's attack on Lebanon when he heard that an Israeli rocket had crashed into the house his great-grandfather built, his family's ancestral home. Seeking renewal, he set out to rebuild the house that held his family's past in the town they had helped settle long ago."

This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror, Moustafa Bayoumi: "Bayoumi exposes how contemporary politics, movies, novels, media experts and more have together produced a culture of fear and suspicion that not only willfully forgets the Muslim-American past, but also threatens all of our civil liberties in the present."

Rebel Music: Race, Empire, and the New Muslim Youth Culture, Hisham D. Aidi: "In this timely, revelatory study, Hisham Aidi examines the secular and religious movements that have recently emerged among Muslim youth in the West as a means of protest against the policies of the 'War on Terror.'"

Islam and America: Building a Future Without Prejudice, Anouar Majid: "Islam and America argues that the current animosity between the U.S. and Muslim world should be understood through the often-overlooked history between the two... Majid makes a provocative argument against faith-inspired prejudices and offers suggestions for the future."

American Islam: the Struggle for the Soul of a Religion, Paul M. Barrett: "This book takes readers into Muslim homes, mosques, and private gatherings to introduce a population of striking variety. An intricate mixture of ideologies and cultures, American Muslims include immigrants and native born, black and white converts, those who are well integrated into the larger society and those who are alienated and extreme in their political views."

Notable Muslims: Muslim Builders of World Civilization and Culture, Natana DeLong-Bas: Notable Muslims "documents the contributions of fifty male and fifty female Muslims to various different fields and professions. This book offers a counterpoint to the stereotypes of religious fundamentalists and masked suicide bombers that have become all too commonplace in Western representations of Islam."



Leo Africanus, Amin Maalouf, translated by Peter Sluglett: "'I am now called the African, but I am not from Africa, nor from Europe, nor from Arabia. I am also called the Granadan, the Fassi, the Zayyati, but I come from no country, from no city, no tribe. I am the son of the road, my country is the caravan, my life the most unexpected of voyages.' Thus wrote Leo Africanus, in his fortieth year, in this imaginary autobiography of the famous geographer, adventurer, and scholar Hasan al-Wazzan, who was born in Granada in 1488."

The Conference of the Birds, Farid ud-Din Attar, translated and with an introduction by Afkham Darbandi and Dick Davis: "Composed in the twelfth century in north-eastern Iran, Attar's great mystical poem is among the most significant of all works of Persian literature. A marvellous, allegorical rendering of the Islamic doctrine of Sufism - an esoteric system concerned with the search for truth through God - it describes the consequences of the conference of the birds of the world when they meet to begin the search for their ideal king, the Simorgh bird."

Snow, Orhan Pamuk, translated by Maureen Freely: "Dread, yearning, identity, intrigue, the lethal chemistry between secular doubt and Islamic fanaticism--these are the elements that Orhan Pamuk anneals in this masterful, disquieting novel... Touching, slyly comic, and humming with cerebral suspense, Snow is of immense relevance to our present moment."

Minaret, Leila Aboulela: "Leila Aboulela's American debut is a provocative, timely, and engaging novel about a young Muslim woman -- once privileged and secular in her native land and now impoverished in London -- gradually embracing her orthodox faith."

In the Country of Men, Hisham Matar: "Libya, 1979. Nine-year-old Suleiman’s days are circumscribed by the narrow rituals of childhood: outings to the ruins surrounding Tripoli, games with friends played under the burning sun, exotic gifts from his father’s constant business trips abroad. But his nights have come to revolve around his mother’s increasingly disturbing bedside stories full of old family bitterness... In the Country of Men is a stunning depiction of a child confronted with the private fallout of a public nightmare. But above all, it is a debut of rare insight and literary grace."

Persepolis, Marjane Satrapi: "Persepolis is the story of Marjane Satrapi's childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming--both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland."

Broken Verses, Kamila Shamsie: "Merging the personal with the political, Broken Verses is at once a sharp, thrilling journey through modern-day Pakistan, a carefully coded mystery, and an intimate mother-daughter story that asks how we forgive a mother who leaves."

Ms. Marvel, written by G. Willow Wilson: "Kamala Khan is an ordinary girl from Jersey City - until she's suddenly empowered with extraordinary gifts. But who truly is the new Ms. Marvel? Teenager? Muslim? Inhuman? Find out as she takes the Marvel Universe by storm!"

The Red Pencil, Andrea Davis Pinkney: "After her tribal village is attacked by militants, Amira, a young Sudanese girl, must flee to safety at a refugee camp, where she finds hope and the chance to pursue an education in the form of a single red pencil and the friendship and encouragement of a wise elder."

Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah: "Year Eleven at an exclusive prep school in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, would be tough enough, but it is further complicated for Amal when she decides to wear the hijab, the Muslim head scarf, full-time as a badge of her faith--without losing her identity or sense of style."

Community Contacts and Cultural Institutions

America’s Islamic Heritage Museum
America's Islamic Heritage Museum opened to the public on April 30, 2011. Located in Washington, D.C., it is a continuation of the traveling exhibition, Collections and Stories of American Muslims (CSAM) which was established as a non-profit in 1996. Before opening the museum, CSAM travelled domestically and internationally, hoping to better inform the public of the early and continued presence of Muslims in America. 

Council on American-Islamic Relations

From the CAIR website: "The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) is a grassroots civil rights and advocacy group. CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties organization, with regional offices nationwide. CAIR's national headquarters are on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.
Since its establishment in 1994, CAIR has worked to promote a positive image of Islam and Muslims in America. Through media relationsgovernment relationseducation and advocacy, CAIR puts forth an Islamic perspective to ensure the Muslim voice is represented. In offering this perspective, CAIR seeks to empower the American Muslim community and encourage their participation in political and social activism."

The Islamic Society of North America 
The Islamic Society of North America has served the Muslims of this continent for well over forty years. During this period, ISNA has provided many invaluable services to the Muslim community of North America. Most manifest of course, is the ISNA Annual Convention, which, since its very inception has been a meeting place of people and ideas. In addition to building bridges of understanding and cooperation within the diversity that is Islam in America, ISNA is now playing a pivotal role in extending those bridges to include all people of faith within North America. 

The mission of MakeSpace is to serve as an inclusive, welcoming hub for the Washington Metropolitan area Muslim community, with a strong focus on youth and young professionals. We aim to help our members grow spiritually, intellectually and professionally. We further aim to help the community develop an American Muslim identity rooted in the values of balance and compassion through educational programs, civic engagement initiatives, community service projects and recreational activities.

Masjid Muhammad 
Located in Washington, D.C., and dating back to the mid 1930s, Masjid Muhammad is a nonprofit 501(c)3 religious organization and is representative of the oldest Muslim community in the nation’s capitol. Called “The Nation’s Masjid”, it was the first masjid or mosque to be built in the nation from the ground-up by grassroots American citizens. Located just off of New Jersey Avenue NW on Islamic Way, Masjid Muhammad has long been a pillar in the neighborhood, the city of Washington, D.C., as well as a leader in an association of more than 2000 Masjids and Islamic Centers nationwide.

Muslim Public Affairs Council
Since its inception in 1988, MPAC has worked diligently to foster a vibrant Muslim American identity and to represent the interests of Muslim Americans to decision makers in government agencies, media outlets, interfaith circles and Hollywood studios. The Muslim Public Affairs Council improves public understanding and policies that impact American Muslims by engaging our government, media and communities.

The Yaro Collective
The Yaro Collective is a multi-group network that seeks to create  a community without walls, where discussions are free and open, people come as they are, and can collaborate to build better communities for all. The Yaro Collective facilitates the environment and spiritual space needed for a holistic and culturally relevant understanding of Islam, where creativity is nourished and diversity is valued.