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.
"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
"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 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
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
"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."
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