Lone Star Muslims

Transnational Lives and the South Asian Experience in Texas

288 pages

5 tables

December, 2014

ISBN: 9781479844807


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Ahmed Afzal is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Purchase College, State University of New York.

All books by Ahmed Afzal

Lone Star Muslims offers an engaging and insightful look at contemporary Muslim American life in Texas. It illuminates the dynamics of the Pakistani Muslim community in Houston, a city with one of the largest Muslim populations in the south and southwestern United States. 
Drawing on interviews and participant observation at radio stations, festivals, and ethnic businesses, the volume explores everyday Muslim lives at the intersection of race, class, profession, gender, sexuality, and religious sectarian affiliation to demonstrate the complexity of the South Asian experience. 
Importantly, the volume incorporates narratives of gay Muslim American men of Pakistani descent, countering the presumed heteronormativity evident in most of the social science scholarship on Muslim Americans and revealing deeply felt affiliations to Islam through ritual and practice. It also includes narratives of members of the highly skilled Shia Ismaili Muslim labor force employed in corporate America, of Pakistani ethnic entrepreneurs, the working class and the working poor employed in Pakistani ethnic businesses, of community activists, and of radio program hosts.   
Decentering dominant framings that flatten understandings of transnational Islam and Muslim Americans, such as “terrorist” on the one hand, and “model minority” on the other, Lone Star Muslims offers a glimpse into a variety of lived experiences. It shows how specificities of class, Islamic sectarian affiliation, citizenship status, gender, and sexuality shape transnational identities and mediate racism, marginalities, and abjection.


  • “In this thought-provoking dual treatment of the historical legacy of Texas and the diasporic experience of Ismaili Shi’a and homosexual Muslims living in Houston and its suburbs, Afzal argues against the works of scholars presenting the various facets of the South Asian community as a monolith of Islamic practices and heterosexuality…..This is new at the forefront of religion.”


  • “An important addition to the ethnographic study of Muslim and Pakistani Americans as well as the broader anthropological study of immigrant lives and transnational identities, Lone Star Muslims trains a remarkably wide lens on Pakistanis and Pakistani Americans in Houston.  To his considerable credit and using multisited methods, Ahmed Afzal ensures diverse coverage of various sectors of Houston Pakistani communities.”

    American Anthropologist

  • Lone Star Muslim contributes in significant ways to the study of Muslim communities… there is much to recommend Afzal’s work.”

    Reading Religion

  • “Methodologically and theoretically, Lone Star Muslims opens up new possibilities for research of transnational communities in the US… Afzal’s multi-sited approach not only serves to highlight that Pakistani American experience along lines of race, class, gender, religion, and sexuality.”

    Anthropological Quarterly

  • "Lone Star Muslims portrays the 'heterogeneity of the Muslim American experience in the early twenty-first century,' which is sorely needed when Muslims are easily stereotyped and vilified; it also teaches us that there are 'space for building alliances and solidarity' within ethnic Muslim communities and between them and the wider society.  The book is a valuable contribution to the anthropology of American Islam."

    Anthropology Review Database

  • "Afzal deftly puts ethnography to work in describing the complexities facing Pakistanis in the Lone Star State. This significant book demonstrates how Muslims confront a wide range of issues such as racism, sexuality, and class and gender roles, while offering nuanced lessons from everyday life."

    —Junaid Rana, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • "This engaging work on Pakistani American and Pakistani immigrant experiences in Texas offers both in-depth ethnography and insightful theoretical discussions. Afzal makes major contributions to the wide array of interdisciplinary issues he covers: the case studies are innovative, the research sensitively conducted, and the conclusions compellingly presented.

    —Karen Leonard, University of California, Irvine