American Muslim Women

Negotiating Race, Class, and Gender within the Ummah

304 pages

December, 2008

ISBN: 9780814748107

$26

Paper

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Author

Jamillah Karim is an international lecturer in race, gender, and Islam in America. She was formerly Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Spelman College. She is the author of American Muslim Women: Negotiating Race, Class, and Gender within the Ummah.

All books by Jamillah Karim

African American Muslims and South Asian Muslim immigrants are two of the largest ethnic Muslim groups in the U.S. Yet there are few sites in which African Americans and South Asian immigrants come together, and South Asians are often held up as a “model minority” against African Americans. However, the American ummah, or American Muslim community, stands as a unique site for interethnic solidarity in a time of increased tensions between native-born Americans and immigrants.

This ethnographic study of African American and South Asian immigrant Muslims in Chicago and Atlanta explores how Islamic ideals of racial harmony and equality create hopeful possibilities in an American society that remains challenged by race and class inequalities. The volume focuses on women who, due to gender inequalities, are sometimes more likely to move outside of their ethnic Muslim spaces and interact with other Muslim ethnic groups in search of gender justice.

American Muslim Women explores the relationships and sometimes alliances between African Americans and South Asian immigrants, drawing on interviews with a diverse group of women from these two communities. Karim investigates what it means to negotiate religious sisterhood against America's race and class hierarchies, and how those in the American Muslim community both construct and cross ethnic boundaries.

American Muslim Women reveals the ways in which multiple forms of identity frame the American Muslim experience, in some moments reinforcing ethnic boundaries, and at other times, resisting them.

Reviews

  • ”Karim’s sensitive ethnographic work and well-written analysis provide engaging insights into the lives of contemporary American Muslim women. . . . [and] flow beautifully to its thoughtful conclusion.”

    —Karen Isaksen Leonard, author of Muslims in the United States: The State of Research

  • American Muslim Women: Negotiating Race, Class, and Gender within the Ummah by Spelman College Professor of Religious Studies Jamillah Karim is a welcome departure from the usual portrayals of Muslim women in the U.S. as victims of their religion.”

    Color Lines

  • “Jamillah Karim’s new book, American Muslim Women, is an insightful, well-written examination of the space where religion and race intersect in America. Implementing adept ethnographic skills to conduct interviews in two cities across the tangible ethnic boundaries between Sout hAsian and African American Muslims, Karim provides insight into the complexities and tensions within the Muslim ummah, or community.”

    Journal Of Middle East Women’s Studies