Being Muslim

A Cultural History of Women of Color in American Islam

288 pages

21 illustrations

June, 2018

ISBN: 9781479823420



Add to Cart Available: 6/8/2018

Also available in


American Studies


Sylvia Chan-Malik is Assistant Professor of American Studies and Women and Gender Studies at Rutgers University.

All books by Sylvia Chan-Malik

An exploration of twentieth and twenty-first century U.S. Muslim womanhood that centers the lived experience of women of color 

For Sylvia Chan-Malik, Muslim womanhood is constructed through everyday and embodied acts of resistance, what she calls affective insurgency. In negotiating the histories of anti-Blackness, U.S. imperialism, and women’s rights of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, Being Muslim explores how U.S. Muslim women’s identities are expressions of Islam as both Black protest religion and universal faith tradition. Through archival images, cultural texts, popular media, and interviews, the author maps how communities of American Islam became sites of safety, support, spirituality, and social activism, and how women of color were central to their formation. By accounting for American Islam’s rich histories of mobilization and community, Being Muslim brings insight to the resistance that all Muslim women must engage in the post-9/11 United States. 

From the stories that she gathers, Chan-Malik demonstrates the diversity and similarities of Black, Arab, South Asian, Latina, and multiracial Muslim women, and how American understandings of Islam have shifted against the evolution of U.S. white nationalism over the past century. In borrowing from the lineages of Black and women-of-color feminism, Chan-Malik offers us a new vocabulary for U.S. Muslim feminism, one that is as conscious of race, gender, sexuality, and nation, as it is region and religion.


  • “Rarely does a work of scholarship so seamless and skillfully interweave methods of theory, history, ethnography, and cultural interpretation to elucidate a topic of overarching importance. With rich insight and pristine originality, Sylvia Chan-Malik establishes a new, lasting standard that will redirect future scholarship on race, gender, and transnational Islam. Readers will learn immensely from the rich fruits of such careful and judicious intellectual labor.”

    —Sylvester Johnson, Virginia Tech

  • "This fascinating cultural history of Islam in the United States will surprise readers with its insights and subtleties of argument. By centering the lives, labor, and perspectives of US American Muslim women, and black Muslim women in particular, Chan-Malik makes a powerful case for conceptualizing Islam in the US in terms of its foundational blackness and the religious opposition to racism and sexism."

    —Zareena Grewal, author of Islam is a Foreign Country