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How to Be a Muslim: An American Story by…
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How to Be a Muslim: An American Story

by Haroon Moghul

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This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
his is a memoir of Haroon Moghul's coming of age in America. He struggled with an unnamed birth problem which plagued his childhood. Later he also struggled with bipolar disorder and suicidal ideation. Throughout it all, he struggled with fitting into a mostly non-Muslim America.

The descriptions of his struggles, however, seem somewhat distant.

I didn't feel what he was feeling and his experiences seemed more like reporting than bringing me into what was happening to him.

There was one vividly described incident that did stand out for me, though in Chapter 23. Here Moghul describes hearing Imam Idrees Abkar, substituted at the last moment for a more famous imam that Moghul came specifically to hear. But Idrees Abkar, touched Mogul's soul and as he described this, I was also touched:

”Abkar was not leading us in prayer. He was talking to God and we happened to behind him, squeezed in so tightly we could hardly find place for our foreheads on flawless plush carpet. We were realizing what he was realizing, in the course of his supplicating, that he was talking to Him, and this nearly did him in.” p. 203

If other chapters had had this sort of heartfelt writing this would have been a much more interesting book. ( )
  streamsong | Oct 29, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
In this memoir, Haroon Moghul recounts his struggles with identity as a Muslim American. Moghul's voice is incredibly down-to-earth and accessible, and besides religion and faith, he explores all facets of life -- love, sickness, mental health, death, and so on -- in a way that is sympathetic and relatable. ( )
  patriciathang | Oct 21, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Haroon Moghul rose to national prominence in the wake of 9/11, as an undergrad leader at NYU's Islamic Center. His memoirs promise a look at what it's like to be an American-born Muslim, pulled between personal faith and public identity. Sadly, this book doesn't quite deliver. Partly this is because the book is marketed around Moghul's prominence as what he terms a "professional Muslim", and yet steadfastly refuses to get into any kind of detail about his career beyond the fact that he's mostly made miserable by it and that he's dropped out of grad school twice because of that.

But mostly it's because as the book progresses, it becomes ever more an exercise in navel-gazing, religious guilt, and tortured-MFA-style writing. Moghul undeniably had a tough time in his twenties—marital breakdown, mental illness, heart problems—but reading How to Be a Muslim feels less like discovering the insights that Moghul gained because of this than it does being asked to play the part of the therapist. I was increasingly uncomfortable with that, even before I reached the part where he talks about something that happened while separated from his (now ex) wife. He and another woman (whom he describes as "coy" and "scandalous") watch a movie about Hitler as some kind of weird foreplay, before she declares that she wants to bite his cheek and they have sex.

Who knew there could be a version of "we were on a break" even more jarring than Ross Geller's?

A disappointment. ( )
  siriaeve | Aug 22, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
I highly recommend reading the memoir, How to be a Muslim – An American Story by Haroon Moghul.

Touchingly honest, the story begins with a suicide attempt and unfolds as Moghul finds his way to a deeper meaning of God, his own identity and the perception of Muslims in a post-9/11 America.

Moghul’s work should be considered for book club discussion across the US. ( )
  GrrlLovesBooks | Jul 19, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book delves into the difficulty one man, Haroon Moghul has with being Muslim. It is an autobiography that speaks to the isolation one feels in being different. The author grows up in America but his parents are immigrants. He also makes readers realize the impact of 9/11 on Muslims. He explains how naive he was about relationships. I enjoyed this author. His honesty and his willingness to share his positive and negative experience is admirable . ( )
  barb302 | Jul 17, 2017 |
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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.… (more)

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