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Red, White, and Muslim: My Story of Belief…

Red, White, and Muslim: My Story of Belief

by Asma Gull Hasan

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A good read for a facet of the Islamic faith that many (most) non-Muslim Americans don't ever see. It presents a soft platform of America being the perfect soil for an Islamic Nation - but not one where the government is run by a religion but one whose ethical and moral teachings are parallel with the teachings of Islam. A central tenet is to move Islam away from the radical politics and misogynistic cultural accretions picked up over the years and back to its progressive base.
  John_Pappas | Mar 30, 2013 |
I have decidedly mixed reactions to this book. On the one hand, Asma Gull Hasan is a real charmer, and easy to like. She does give one hope that Muslims can join into American society. Her book may help people understand that Islam and Muslims vary and they are not all violent fanatics.

On the other hand, she doesn't deal with other varieties of Islam, and some Muslims have criticized her for being insufficiently devout. It is interesting to read this book along with Wafa Sultan's A God Who Hates. So although we may like Hasan and her appealing relatives, she doesn't speak for all Muslims. I distinguish here between Islam and individual Muslims, just as my abandonment of Christianity has not made me hostile to all Christians. Some are very liberal, and came here because they like the social and political atmosphere. Others despise the United States and don't want to integrate into civil society. It is possible and acceptable within some limits, to live by one's own rules, as the Amish do, but they accept the consequences of living out of the mainstream, and dissenters have to be free to leave. There is the case of the cab drivers in Minnesota who are fighting to be allowed to refuse taxi service to anyone with alcohol in their possession, or a dog (such as a blind person with a seeing-eye dog), or the parents who wanted their children released from school early on Fridays, or others who demand to be permitted to refuse to sell alcohol or pork products in a grocery store, instead of say, finding a job where those products aren't sold. Most disturbingly, there are "honor killings" of "excessively" Westernized daughters, as when Noor Almaleki was deliberately run down by her father. The Amish, at worst, shun the worldly.

I don't think that she adequately deals with Muslim religious violence. She says that most Muslims don't approve, but we certainly know that some Muslims do, and it seems very rare for any Muslims to speak out against it, which is what really disturbs me. When I was in college, my professor used Islam as a model of tolerance and peaceful diversity to shame Christianity. I don't think he would do so now. Even if one considers Muslim grievances against the US and sets aside events like 9/11, there is an appalling amount of religious violence in the Muslim world, with probably most of the victims being fellow Muslims. In his excellent book Taliban (published before 9/11) Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid rebuked the Muslim world for not condemning the improper use of shari'a law as an excuse for violence and oppression.

Coming back to the United States, I quote from a Yahoo! article: 'Some U.S. Muslims say their national organizations share the blame, for answering intricate questions about Islam with platitudes ... Muslim leaders often respond when terrorists strike by saying Islam is a "religion of peace" that has no role in the violence instead of confronting the legitimate concerns of other Americans, these Muslim critics say.

"There's a quaintness and naivete or outright whitewashing of some very complex issues," said Saeed Khan, who teaches at Wayne State University in Detroit. " ' (http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100912/ap_on_re_us/us_american_muslims)

I have one other small peeve: she complains at great length that people pronounce her first name like asthma, when it is to be pronounced AH-SEE-MA. Has she ever considered putting a vowel like "i" or "e" in the middle, to represent the now unindicated vowel sound?

So I hope this will educate anyone who thinks that all Muslims are violent thugs. I'm sure it will be well received by the devoutly ecumenical. But I don't think it deals with all the issues that it needs to address to really convince worried Americans. ( )
2 vote juglicerr | Sep 18, 2010 |
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As many Muslims do, I begin this endeavor with a short prayer that goes like this: Bismallah, Ir-Rahman, Ir-Rahim; In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Dedication: In memory of my grandfather, Salahuddin Khan, who I wish had lived to see this book. For all the men in my life, my father and brother. Thank you for always believing in me, sticking up for me and being just a phone call away! Even after all this time / The sun never says to the earth, / "You owe Me" / Look what happens with a love like that, / It lights up the Whole Sky --Hafiz
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An inspiring account of one woman's journey to reclaim her spiritual and cultural identity. Hasan explains what it means to be a Muslim, and an American, in the post-9/11 world.

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