Interviews with young, black Muslims in Chicago explore the complexity of those with identities formed at the crossroads of Islam and hip hop
This groundbreaking study of race, religion and popular culture in the 21st century United States focuses on a new concept, “Muslim Cool.” Muslim Cool is a way of being an American Muslim—displayed in ideas, dress, social activism in the ’hood, and in complex relationships to state power. Constructed through hip hop and the performance of Blackness, Muslim Cool is a way of engaging with the Black American experience by both Black and non-Black young Muslims that challenges racist norms in the U.S. as well as dominant ethnic and religious structures within American Muslim communities.
Drawing on over two years of ethnographic research, Su'ad Abdul Khabeer illuminates the ways in which young and multiethnic U.S. Muslims draw on Blackness to construct their identities as Muslims. This is a form of critical Muslim self-making that builds on interconnections and intersections, rather than divisions between “Black” and “Muslim.” Thus, by countering the notion that Blackness and the Muslim experience are fundamentally different, Muslim Cool poses a critical challenge to dominant ideas that Muslims are “foreign” to the United States and puts Blackness at the center of the study of American Islam. Yet Muslim Cool also demonstrates that connections to Blackness made through hip hop are critical and contested—critical because they push back against the pervasive phenomenon of anti-Blackness and contested because questions of race, class, gender, and nationality continue to complicate self-making in the United States.
"A must read for any student of anthropology, religion, migration, or urban studies."-Choice
“The book in sum is an admirable approach to the circulation of Blackness, which few have taken up in the context of Muslims in the United States."-Sociology of Religion
"Offers an account of how Muslims in Chicago feel, think, and act. Fashionistas, hip-hop heads, and activists will recognize this scholarly work as chronicling the edginess of a possible future. Imagine Black Power meets twenty-first century faith-based social justice and cultural organizing. A must read for all those who didn’t know, and even those who do!"-Junaid Rana,author of Terrifying Muslims: Race and Labor in the South Asian Diaspora
"Muslim Cool celebrates the spiritual grounding of hip hop and tries to tease apart its complex relationships with race and religion."-The Atlantic
"Muslim Cool brilliantly spotlights how Black Muslim youth construct and perform identities that embody indigenous forms of Black cultural production. Equally important, the text shows how these constructions are used to reimagine, reshape, and resist hegemonic and often anti-Black conceptions of Muslim identity. With masterful ethnographic detail, Abdul Khabeer offers a subtle and rich analysis of the complex relationships between race, religion, and state power. This book is a desperately needed intervention within Anthropology, Africana Studies, and Islamic Studies."-Marc Lamont Hill,author of Beats, Rhymes, and Classroom Life: Hip-Hop Pedagogy and the Politics of Identity
"A skilled ethnographer, [Su'ad Abdul Khabeer] combines her poet's ear and thorough research in prose that flips the script on the anti-Black, anti-Muslim sentiment."-Ebony
"In times when both Islam and Hip Hop have been constructed as “threats to American civilization” by some, Muslim Cool presents a much-needed, rigorous analysis backed by rich, ethnographic detail to present a far more nuanced and intriguing story—a story that is central to understanding current U.S. racial, religious, and political landscapes. Through Khabeer’s groundbreaking research and carefully crafted narrative and argumentation, we discover the journeys of young Muslims who find, through Hip Hop, a way of being Muslim that helps them challenge anti-Black racism in their everyday lives and interactions with systemic inequalities. Muslim Cool is, as dead prez once rapped, bigger than Hip Hop—it is a must-read for anyone interested in race, religion and culture in contemporary America."-H. Samy Alim,author of Roc the Mic Right: The Language of Hip Hop Culture
"An intense and novel anthropological approach to the development of the relationship between African American Muslims—the original American face of Islam—and immigrant Muslims and their children. An absolute must-read."-Aminah Beverly McCloud,DePaul University
“Because the text stays so close to her teachers’ words and theorizations while working through complex questions regarding power and religious and racial identity, it is accessible to both everyday readers and scholarly circles alike.”-Religious Studies Review
"Where Chance injects spirituality into hip-hop, Muslim Cool injects hip-hop into spirituality. And in doing so, as Abdul-Khabeer’s Muslim Cool-hunting presents, it’s expanding the ways in which black history, culture, and politics get expressed, re-defined, and redeployed into new contexts."-Popmatters
"Abdul Khabeer explores the rich relationship of hip-hop to Islam in her fascinating new work, Muslim Cool."-Foreword Reviews
"Khabeer’s study explores how young African American Muslim women and men who embrace Muslim cool use hip-hop styles of dress, music, dance, and spoken-word performance to assert their Muslim bona fides. In so doing, they are arguing against the anti-black biases of the dominant Middle Eastern and South Asian immigrant Muslim community in the United States. But they’re also arguing for their sense of belonging in the American national community that is normed as white even as it claims to be post-racial and multicultural.”-Christian Century Review
"Muslim Cool discusses much-neglected topics in the field of Islam in America; Khabeer's discussion of Muslim masculinity in the United States, for instance, is a contribution to a shockingly small bibliography on the topic."-Mashriq Mahjar Journal