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Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam Hardcover – June 11, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Ahmed, a professor of Islamic Studies at American University and a well-respected scholar of Islam, endeavors in this exhaustively-researched text to examine what it means to be Muslim in modern America, post-9/11. In an effort to reach a meaningful analysis, Ahmed interviews a wide variety of people about what it means to be American. Questions such as "What is the sum of American identity?" and "What do the Founding Fathers mean to you?" would themselves constitute a lengthy book independent of Islam's role in the nation, but taken through this lens, they provide some eye-opening answers. Ahmed contends that America needs to rediscover the intentions of the Founding Fathers, but his many interviews illustrate a problem: no one is entirely certain of the right interpretation of their intentions. Ahmed's research is superb, but his questions are often leading and can create a sense of meandering confusion. However, readers unfamiliar with Islam will walk away with a much firmer grasp of its nuances, and everyone will likely learn a great deal about American self-perception.
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"Ahmed is an engaging and perceptive tour guide who interviews Muslims from all walks of life: imams, rappers, businessmen and women, doctors, engineers, and refugees...[He] has written an important account that could help non-Muslims and Muslims create a more tolerant and welcoming nation."—Karl Helicher,, ForeWord Magazine

"A brilliant follow-up to Journey into Islam. Ahmed's insights should be required reading for anyone grappling with national security, national identity, and national cohesion in today's complex era."—Colonel David Kilcullen, author of The Accidental Guerrilla

"An absolutely riveting journey into an America most Americans have no idea about. As the U.S. faces up to the tensions within its own Muslim communities, it could not be more timely."—Christina Lamb, Washington Bureau Chief, Sunday Times

"My friend Professor Ahmed came to America in the great tradition of Alexis de Tocqueville: a perceptive foreigner affectionately looking at America and American identity. This important new book advances his heroic, even dangerous, 'five minutes to midnight' effort to save us from our foolish mutual animosities. Pray his efforts are not too late."—Tony Blankley, Washington Times and Heritage Foundation

"A timely and stimulating contribution to a critically important issue: the West's (and especially America's) relationship to Islam."—Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Adviser

"What a wonderful, wonderful work! This book presents great insight into the diversity and vibrancy of American Islam and its potential to help achieve the American promise."—Eboo Patel, Founder and Executive Director of Interfaith Youth Core

"In the tradition of Alexis de Tocqueville, Akbar Ahmed has had a conversation with and about America which illuminates an important part of our national identity."—Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun, former United States Senator and presidential candidate

" Journey into America is an essential pillar in the effort to build the interfaith bridge of understanding. It will inform, provoke, and inspire Americans of all colors, cultures, and faiths."—U.S. Representative Keith Ellison (D-Minn.)

"In his latest book and documentary, Journey Into America: The Challenge of Islam, Ahmed clearly shows how American ignorance of Islam causes us to unjustly malign a faith that more than a billion people hold dear....Ahmed's Journey Into America is well worth reading."—Joyce Davis, Harrisburg Patriot-News

"He's a very wonderful man…it's such an interesting study…it's a great study and it completely drives home the incredible diversity of something that I think, in our eyes, we view as a monolith and anything that lends that, obviously, is very helpful."—Jon Stewart, The Daily Show

"He is the author of Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam. It's a great book. Details so much--the struggles we are in right now in dealing with all these things around the world. Terrific read."—John Roberts, CNN "American Morning"

"A wonderful book...its so comprehensive, it's great."—Alisyn Camerota, Fox News

"Believe me, its a monumental, fascinating, wonderfully readable and engaging book."—Maureen Fiedler, Interfaith Voices/NPR

"Dr. Akbar Ahmed has written a landmark work that must be read by every American if our nation is to re-affirm its commitment to the principles of American Democracy and its gift of sustaining religious plurality. Muslims in America are once again under the cultural microscope of a nation that has yet to recover emotionally from the horrors of 9/11. Driven by fear of the "other" and a lack of understanding about Islam and Muslims, America is at a crossroads. Can we live into the high ideals of America's founding fathers who cherished religious diversity? Or are we as a nation going to be influenced by another America, an America fueled by ignorance and religious xenophobia?"—The Rt. Rev. John Bryson Chane, D.D., Episcopal Bishop of Washington

"Dr Akbar Ahmed's latest book Journey into America: the Challenge of Islam is timely, important and audacious. It is a remarkably perceptive account of the Muslim experience in post-9/11 America."—Maleeha Lodi, International News

"Rarely have I read a book that is as timely, informative and engaging as Journey into America: the Challenge of Islam by Dr. Akbar Ahmed, considered one of the foremost Islamic scholars in the world."—Maureen Fiedler,, National Catholic Reporter

"Ahmed's research is superb...readers unfamiliar with Islam will walk away with a much firmer grasp of its nuances, and everyone will likely learn a great deal about American self-perception."— Publishers Weekly

"Akbar Ahmed's Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam is a timely, important, and profoundly engaging study of the tensions that exist within the American identity."—Ilhan Niaz,, South Asia

"A truly remarkable book."—Byron Borger,, Hearts and Minds Bookstore

"Dr. Akbar Ahmed, a renowned Islamic Scholar, in his latest book Journey into America clearly outlines that it's not the heart and minds of the global Muslim world Obama needs to win, but the hearts and minds of American Muslims."—Amra Tareen, Allvoices

"[A] unique and ground breaking book."—Nicole Queen, Queen of Islam blog

"Rarely have I read a book that is as timely, informative and engaging as Journey into America: the Challenge of Islam by Dr. Akbar Ahmed, considered one of the foremost Islamic scholars in the world."—Maureen Fiedler, National Catholic Reporter, Maureen Fiedler's blog

"[A] much-needed exercise in bridge-building... a remarkable academic exercise."—Karamatullah K. Ghori, DAWN (Pakistan

"Ultimately, we end up as either part of the solution or part of the problem...We can't bridge the understanding gap without knowledge. Journey into America is a major contribution in that regard."—John Milewski, Huffington Post


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 530 pages
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press; 1st edition, edition (June 11, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815703872
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815703877
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #747,508 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

38 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Todd Bartholomew VINE VOICE on August 2, 2010
Format: Hardcover
A number of Western authors have recently speculated on the nature of those Muslim citizens living within pluralistic Western democracies and their potential impact on those societies, yet most have been polemics with little in the way of reasoned thinking or research to back up their assertions. That is clearly not the case with "Journey into America", which picks up where Journey into Islam: the Crisis of Globalization left off. In that book Akbar Ahmed explored how globalization is affecting and changing Islam, whereas "Journey into America" looks more specifically at the opinions and beliefs of Muslims living in post 9/11 America. Ahmed and his researchers don't shy away from asking hard questions of their subjects, delving into subjects such as the increased likelihood of homegrown terrorism, the issue of women wearing the hijab or burkas, can you be a Muslim and an American, and relations with people of other faiths or who profess no faith. The result is not so much about the clash of religions or cultures, but profound insight into questions of identity, of self, and of community. Most Americans have little idea of what Islam is about, what Muslims believe and do not believe, and "Journey into America" goes a great distance towards addressing those questions. By the end of the book I found that I learned as much about America and Americans as I did about Muslims and Islam, and that's not necessarily a bad thing, and likely a point Ahmed is attempting to make. And rather than being aimed at intellectuals, Ahmed's writing style is clearly aimed at a broader market and should be quite interesting reading for most lay readers. Not only will "Journey into America" answer many questions you had, it will likely also provoke readers to ponder their own questions about themselves and our society. The hallmark of a great book!
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By ChristaB on August 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover
This has got to be one of the meatiest research books I have ever read! I'm not a big American history buff, but I learned way more about American identity than I expected. Yes, this book is about Muslims but it is also about other faith traditions and identity constructions in American society. You will not be disappointed!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Don R. Riggs on September 17, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Akbar Ahmen's Journey Into America is an excellent resource for understanding individual Muslim perspectives on living in America. Beginning with a questionnaire developed with his students at American University, a team (including Muslim and non-Muslims) visited many different Muslim communities and spoke with a large number of individual Muslims in the US. Beginning with the question: "What does the Mayflower event mean for you?", the team explored three responses to the American experience: the primordial, the pluralist, and the predator. An interesting analysis of those follows. The team also explored three attitudes of Muslims and their responses as Modernists, Literalists, and Mystics and Others, and these labels are explored related to the respondent's integration into American society.
The variety of Muslim communities is both very interesting and disturbing. While most communities and individuals do seek integration into American society, there is a sizeable group that feels alienated by American culture and likely will never fully integrate. Clearly Muslims know they are a minority in this culture--as do Jewish Americans--and that poses a challenge for any minority, beginning with America's earliest history. The discussion of African American Muslimes, and how they date back to our earliest history, including Muslims among slaves brought from Africa, and how today most African American Muslims would identify as Sunnis, is revealing.
The discussion of interaction among native born Muslims (mostly African Americans) and immigrants is also significant in its implications.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Andrea Garrison on September 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Journey Into America The Challenge Of Islam by Ambassador Akbar Ahmed is a detailed study on how Muslims fit into American communities. Ambassador Ahmed is the Ibn Khaldun Chair of Islamic Studies at American University in Washington, DC. According to The Religious Tolerance Organization and the Pew Forum, "in 2010 it was estimated that there were approximately 1.57 billion Muslims in the world. Muslims in the world represent about 22% of the world's population and they are the second largest religion in the world and Islam is growing about 2.9% per year which is faster than the world population which is increasing approximately 2.3% annually." According to Ambassador Ahmed there are nearly 7 million Muslims who live in the United States today and the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims has been strained since 9/11. What is great about Ambassador Ahmed's study is that it is comprehensive and it helps to dispel many of the myths while hopefully being a catalyst to stimulate dialogue which will possibly and eventually lead to a greater understanding of what it is like to be Muslim in America. I am sure that Ambassador Ahmed hopes that his work will inspire the reader to go beyond the stereotype and to truly connect person to person heart to heart rather than just viewing every Muslim as a potential terrorist. This impressive project by Ambassador Ahmed and his team also provides a glimpse of the interfaith work that is being done to heal the tension between Muslims and non-Muslims. Ambassador Ahmed makes it clear that it is important that we all work together as a team to create more harmony. Journey Into America is available as a book and a DVD. I also suggest that you also read Ambassador Ahmed's book Journey Into Islam The Crisis Of Globalization.Read more ›
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