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The Muslim Next Door 1st (first) edition Text Only Paperback – 2008

4.4 out of 5 stars 95 customer reviews

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Paperback, 2008
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Product Details

  • Paperback
  • ASIN: B004S966FC
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (95 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,161,932 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback
Sumbul Ali-Karamali has written a prayer, and modestly called it a book. It is "The Muslim Next Door: The Qur'an, the Media, and that Veil Thing."

I don't care who you are or what faith tradition you follow, this book is necessary. I use the word necessary because it's the only one that fits. Really. This book should be required reading in America. Ms. Ali-Karamali has written gently, and repectfully, with humor, and also with an authoritative scholarly voice. I can't remember the last time I carried a book around with me the way I have carried this book. Part of the power of this book for me has been in the experience of carrying it with me and encountering the interest and puzzlement of other people simply in reaction to the title. Always with the "Why are you reading that?" as a kind of subtext. I have enjoyed carrying the book with me as a social experiment, and as a way to enter into the suggested topics for discussion in the back of the book. This book will stay with me a long time.

I read a previous review of the book that said something like it was a quick read. I would say, instead, that this book is very approachable while maintaining its scholarly integrity. It provides citations, easily notated by chapter, an historical chronology, and recommendations for further reading. It should be taught. How lucky would be the students of the author herself. She should tour. Seriously. At the least, this book should be required reading in curricula around the country.

I have gone over my copy carefully and have dog earred and post-it marked and highlighted and underscored. I have read the chapters in order and returned to them again. I have sat thinking deeply about the questions for discussion at the end of the book.
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Format: Paperback
As a public middle school teacher I had searched for accessible information on Islam for my students since 1993. In light of American media bias and the ongoing turmoil in the Middle East, my intent as a teacher of ancient cultures has been to illustrate the shared history, cultures, personalities, and beliefs of the three great monotheistic religions. Prior to 9/11, there were no books written for general public consumption or as student resources. There were erudite PhD treatises available online, but nothing that could be used in a secondary classroom. Following 9/11, many books were written in an attempt to explain Islam and Muslims to the Western world. Again, I found many of the texts to be either dry historical overviews or agenda-ridden commentaries on faith.

Finally, a book appeared that was, literally, the answer to my search. Sumbul Ali-Karamali's book, "The Muslim Next Door:the Qur'an, the Media, and that Veil Thing", provides a clear, comprehensive and often entertaining explanation of the religion of Islam and the life of a practicing Muslim. I give full credit to her for adding critical depth and breadth to my, and my students', understanding of Islam and what it shares with Judaism and Christianity.The longest chapter in the book is dedicated to women's status in Islam, providing a powerful counterbalance to media coverage of Saudi Arabia and the Taliban's treatment of women. Ms Ali-Karamali's impeccable academic and professional credentials, as well as her knowledge of Arabic, allows her to identify and correct many misconceptions and misinterpretations of the Qur'an. Her informal writing style, with personal anecdotes to which young people and adults can equally relate, illuminates complex aspects in a clear, understandable way. Not only is this book an invaluable educational tool and a primer for building understanding among different cultures and religions, it will have a profound personal impact on anyone who reads it.
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Format: Paperback
Since I live in a very diverse community and work with a number of Muslim professionals, I was quite intrigued By Ms. Ali-Karamali's book. She provides some illuminating documentation about the history of Islam and places it in a proper historical context. Her most compelling argument is her eloquent plea for us to recognize that the overwhelming majority of Muslims are not representative of the small minority within their faith who are violent. In my opinion she is entirely right in her contention. No individual is responsible for the actions of others whom they most likely do not even know.

However she tends to gloss over historically relevant points that can undermine her premise. She describes jizya taxes in almost positive terms and never once discusses the dhimmi laws intended to subjugate monotheists of other faiths. While I can understand her reluctance to delve into these issues in great detail, had she done so her book would have earned greater credibility in my eyes. Every faith has strengths and flaws. She appears to fall into the "No True Scotsman" fallacy on a number of occasions. A faith can be arguably defined by the practices of its contemporary majority, regardless of what an ideal interpretation would represent. Islam as well as other faiths (Orthodox Judaism and Amish Mennonite, for example) can be very legalistic. Legalism tends to trend towards some dehumanization.

Additionally, she neglected to discuss some extraordinary facts regarding the history if Islam. There's no question that Muslim societies have made incredible and irreplaceable contributions to world culture, science and art. But for the scholars in medieval Muslim societies, Egyptian and Greek science and mathematics might very well have been lost.
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