In Islam Is a Foreign Country, Zareena Grewal explores some of the most pressing debates about and among American Muslims: what does it mean to be Muslim and American? Who has the authority to speak for Islam and to lead the stunningly diverse population of American Muslims? Do their ties to the larger Muslim world undermine their efforts to make Islam an American religion?
Offering rich insights into these questions and more, Grewal follows the journeys of American Muslim youth who travel in global, underground Islamic networks. Devoutly religious and often politically disaffected, these young men and women are in search of a home for themselves and their tradition. Through their stories, Grewal captures the multiple directions of the global flows of people, practices, and ideas that connect U.S. mosques to the Muslim world. By examining the tension between American Muslims’ ambivalence toward the American mainstream and their desire to enter it, Grewal puts contemporary debates about Islam in the context of a long history of American racial and religious exclusions. Probing the competing obligations of American Muslims to the nation and to the umma (the global community of Muslim believers), Islam is a Foreign Country investigates the meaning of American citizenship and the place of Islam in a global age.
" Grewals innovative focus on student travelers makes for a fascinating andinsightful look at U.S. Muslims today. The distinctive subject matter and accessiblewriting style will attract readers outside anthropology and beyond academia, andthrough considering debates about authority and authenticity in the search for Islamicknowledge, Grewal engages with an area of great interest in the anthropology of Islam." ~American Anthropologist
"A moving and incisive account of Muslim immigrant experiences in the United States.It reveals a dimension of American life seldom genuinely understood.No one will think of American Islam in the same way after reading this book." ~Saba Mahmood,author of Politics of Piety
"This book provides a window into Muslim American debates around religious authority and identity. Its vast subject matter, timeliness, and fluidity are sure to leave readers wanting more; not in the sense of having been deprived, but out of a desire to explore the expansive subject that Grewal has opened up for us.This book is a valuable contribution to the study of Muslim Americans and will be of great interest to scholars of Islam and Americanists alike." ~Journal of the American Academy of Religion
"A genuinely fascinating and thought-provoking book." ~Times Literary Supplement
"A powerful, lyrical, and boldly rendered book, bringing to life the journey of knowledge seekers. Grewal decenters, blurs, and puts back together a number of scholarly fields to tell a story of Muslims traveling the world for an Islamic education. This profound and compelling ethnography shows that amidst all of the talk of radicalism and terrorism, there is a far more human endeavor herethe search for ethical truths and a better world, no matter how messy and contradictory." ~Junaid Rana,author of Terrifying Muslims: Race and Labor in the South Asian Diaspora
"Grewal's book is beautifully written, with textured ethnographic vignettes and a clear theoretical analysis." ~American Journal of Islamic Social Science
"Energetic and insightful, critical as well as empathetic, Grewal provides a rich map of the discursive counterpoints between different geographies of imagination as they are mapped and remapped in the lives and bodies of men and women who translate Islam in their lived practices today. A must read for anyone wishing to understand how religious knowledge in Islam is manufactured in a readable as well as enjoyable manner." ~Ebrahim Moosa,Professor of Religion & Islamic Studies, Duke University
"Grewal provides readers with useful information about the media, educational organizations, and institutions of political and moral authority." ~CHOICE
"[T]his book offers some original social history of the Muslim community in America and particularly the unique role of the African-American influence of shaping American Islam. [Grewal]skillfully weaves together her ethnographic accounts, staying loyal to her anthropological training but pulling in American history, Middle Eastern Studies, classical Islamic texts, as well as considerations of race, ethnicity, and gender." ~Sociology of Islam
"Zareena GrewalsIslam Is a Foreign Countryoffers a valuable contribution to the growing body of scholarship on American Islam by illuminating the motivations and pedagogies of American Muslims who seek Islamic knowledge overseas in Egypt, Jordan, and Syria." ~Sociology of Religion