The Muslim Next Door: The Qur'an, the Media, and that Veil Thing
Growing up in Southern California, I was usually the only Muslim my friends and teachers had ever encountered. My parents had come to the United States a year before the immigration quotas had been relaxed, allowing larger numbers of immigrants from non-European countries, so I was a few years older than most of the Muslim Americans of my generation. That means I got all the questions!
All my life, I've answered questions about Islam and Muslims. I learned which answers made sense to my peers and teachers and which were more of a struggle. When, after I began working as a corporate lawyer, I received request for book recommendations on Islam, I realized there weren't any user-friendly ones. I decided to write one myself.
The Muslim Next Door is the result of that decision. It wasn't easy to decide upon an approach, because I wanted to answer the questions that readers in the Western world were most curious about, but I also wanted the book to be fun to read. I opted to write an academically reliable introduction to Islam, but use frequent stories and anecdotes to illustrate the scholarship. In other words, I contextualized the scholarship in stories about growing up Muslim and female in the West. The result is a first-person narrative that reads like a memoir but which contains information grounded solidly in scholarship.
The Muslim Next Door covers women (marriage, divorce, polygamy, and the veil, or hijab), jihad and what it means, theft and adultery in Islam (because the mention of Islamic law inevitably invokes images of stoning to death for adultery or amputating hands for theft). It also explains the foundations for those topics, such as: what all that terminology means (shari’a, fatwa, jihad, etc.); how Islam fits into the Judeo-Christian tradition; who’s who in Islam (Sunni, Shi’a, Sufi, Wahabi, Taliban, Nation of Islam); and who makes the rules (do we have a pope?).
The book was written shortly after 9/11 and was response to much of the public discourse swirling around Muslims at the time. But the information and scholarship in it is evergreen. I hope you enjoy it.
Experts review The Muslim Next Door:
Bronze Medal Winner of the Independent Publishers Award 2009
The Huffington Post's "Eleven Must-Read Books on Islam"
Silicon Valley Reads, 2012.
"For many, the question is who do I read if I only have a limited amount of time and want to know what and why Muslims believe what they believe? The Muslim Next Door is an excellent place to start."
-- John L. Esposito, Ph.D., University Professor and Professor of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University
"The Muslim Next Door is solid intellectual gold! This book easily ranks as one of the best three books published on the Islamic faith in the English language since the tragedy of 9/11. It is a profoundly eloquent, consistently reliable, comprehensive, insightful, and often brilliant testament of what it means to be a Muslim and what the religion of Islam is all about. Refreshing in its honesty, accessibility, and humility, and truly impressive in scope and depth, this is an indispensable book. Indeed this book is a necessary read not just for those who are interested in learning about Islam, but even more so for those who believe that they have learned all there is to know about Islam."
— Khaled Abou El Fadl, J.D., Ph.D., Professor of Immigration, Middle Eastern, and Islamic Law at UCLA, Author of The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists
"A beautiful book. At a time when most Americans are bombarded with misinformation about Islam and, in particular, American Muslims, Ali-Karamali has written an elegant corrective – a paean to the faith, practice, values, and beliefs of the world's second largest religious community. For anyone who truly wants to know what Muslims believe, this is the perfect book.”
— Reza Aslan, Ph.D., author of "No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam"
Photo credits for portraits and Muslim Next Door cover: Evan Winslow Smith, www.evanwinslowsmith.com