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Muslims and the Making of America
By Amir Hussain
“There has never been an America without Muslims”—so begins Amir Hussain, one of the most important scholars and teachers of Islam in America. Hussain, who is himself an American Muslim, contends that Muslims played an essential role in the creation and cultivation of the United States.
Memories of 9/11 and the rise of global terrorism fuel concerns about American Muslims. The fear of American Muslims in part stems from the stereotype that all followers of Islam are violent extremists who want to overturn the American way of life. Inherent to this stereotype is the popular misconception that Islam is a new religion to America.
In Muslims and the Making of America Hussain directly addresses both of these stereotypes. Far from undermining America, Islam and American Muslims have been, and continue to be, important threads in the fabric of American life. Hussain chronicles the history of Islam in America to underscore the valuable cultural influence of Muslims on American life. He then rivets attention on music, sports, and culture as key areas in which Muslims have shaped and transformed American identity. America, Hussain concludes, would not exist as it does today without the essential contributions made by its Muslim citizens.
Introduction: The American Ideal and Islam
1. Islam in America: A Short History
2. Blues for Allah: Music
3. The Greatest: Sports
4. American Mosques: Culture
Conclusion: The Poetry of Ordinary American Muslim Lives
“…Hussain has set out to prove that, far from being merely compatible with American values, Muslims have been at the center of the creation of American popular culture.”
—James L. Fredericks, Commonweal
"Muslims and the Making of America is an accessible and engaging book that tells the story of Muslim contributions to American history and creativity. From early medieval intimations of an ‘unknown land’ across the Atlantic, through west African plantation slaves, to the contemporary accomplishments of athletes, musicians, and artists, Islam has been a force in the United States and Muslims have played a vital role in making America great."
—Jane McAuliffe, Director of National and International Outreach, United States Library of Congress
"Informing the world about Islam’s place in America, this book could not come at a more opportune moment. Lucid, erudite and provocative, only Amir Hussain can make us see the multiple dimensions of the world’s second largest faith in America’s cultural icons, musical stars, political history, cultural values, and public life at large in his unique masterful style. A must-read for anyone wishing to observe Islam beyond sensational headlines in order to grasp the complex lives of Muslim Americans."
—Ebrahim Moosa, Professor of Islamic Studies and Religion, University of Notre Dame
"A sparkling text. Amir Hussain arrives early to tell a story that has long needed telling."
—Jack Miles, Distinguished Professor of English and Religious Studies, University of California at Irvine
"In recent times of rising Islamophobia, rampant misinformation about Islam, and political rhetoric against Muslims, books showcasing the positive aspects of Muslims in America are very welcome. Hussain’s book Muslims and the Making of America may be a very short read but it is a much needed one, packed with facts that destroy myths and remove stereotypes."
—Saadia Faruqi, New York Journal of Books
“Muslims and the Making of America is an extremely accessible book and one that should be required reading for Christian communities across the country. It’s a well-researched work with a bibliography that points to sources for further reading."
—J. Ryan Parker, Patheos
“The writing is conversational, blending personal narrative and historical details, and the examples given are relatable ones. This is a useful and good choice for those who want to show that Muslims (and Islam) are part-and-parcel of American life."
—Muhammed Hassanali, Booklist
“An extraordinary and much needed historical study and an impressive example of impeccable scholarship…”
—Midwest Library Review
“It makes sense that a veteran academic in Islamic studies would engage in this genial and warm conversation. Hussain’s prose is personable, gentle, and melodious yet passionately dedicated to a dream of a complexly inclusive United States…It is a timely, contemporary exercise in bridge building."
—Shabana Mir, Los Angeles Review of Books
Amir Hussain is Professor of Theological Studies at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.