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Taking Back Islam: American Muslims Reclaim Their Faith Paperback – August 16, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-1579549886 ISBN-10: 1579549888 Edition: Reprint

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Taking Back Islam: American Muslims Reclaim Their Faith + The Great Theft: Wrestling Islam from the Extremists + Islam Unveiled: Disturbing Questions about the World’s Fastest-Growing Faith
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Rodale Books; Reprint edition (August 16, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1579549888
  • ISBN-13: 978-1579549886
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #79,251 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This intelligent, thoughtful collection of writings from dozens of contributors is the thinking person's guide to Islam in a post-9/11 America. It is only fitting that a major world religion be represented by multiple voices. Wolfe (One Thousand Roads to Mecca) gathers excerpts from postings to the Beliefnet Web site, as well as brief essays from established authorities such as Karen Armstrong, practitioners like Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens) and new voices such as Asma Hasan and Aasma Khan. Some writers describe specific organizations they have founded to foster interfaith communication and human rights. With only a few exceptions, they do not write as apologists, but willingly grapple with the complexities and paradoxes of Islam. The book works well for both Muslim and non-Muslim readers. It is both an exploration of contemporary Islam (Has it been hijacked by extremists? Is it violent? Can Islamic states be democratic?) and a call for Muslims to reclaim their faith by mobilizing the moderate, seemingly silent, majority. There are also short personal essays about various aspects of Muslim life (art, humor, conversion, pilgrimage and more) that stand as small windows into daily practice. These American Muslims and Islamic scholars are devoted to the faith, but passionate about finding ways for Islam to divest itself of its associations with violent terrorism and sexism. It is an eye-opening survey of the minds and passions of progressive Muslims in the United States and offers hope for greater interfaith understanding.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


"September 11 forced a reckoning of sorts, and it has led us to be more self-reliant. When any religion is new to a place, as Islam is new to America, the tendency to take one's cues from the Motherland is strong, wherever that Motherland is perceived to be. And then there comes a moment to grow up. For many American Muslims, that moment arrived in the weeks following September 11.

"This is a book by forward-looking Muslims-- in love with Islam, proud of Islam, and confident enough in its strength to believe that it can stand up to honest introspection. 'Speak the truth,' Muhammad said, 'even if it hurts you.' A sometimes painful struggle, nothing less than a faith in search of its soul, informs this book."--Michael Wolfe
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Michael Wolfe was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, educated at Wesleyan University (Classics, 1968), and lives in Northern California. He is the author of eleven books of poetry, fiction, and travel. He has been a fellow at Bread Loaf Writers Conference and a guest at the MacDowell Colony. He held the Amy Lowell Traveling Poets Scholarship for three years while living in North and West Africa. In the 1970s and 1980s he owned and ran a bookstore and a book bindery and edited and published Tombouctou Books, Bolinas, CA, including titles by Paul Bowles, Mohammed Mrabet, Larbi Layachi, Jim Carroll, Dale Herd, Steve Emerson, Bobbie Louise Hawkins, Lucia Berlin, Bill Berkson, Duncan McNaughton, Clark Coolidge, and many others.

In 1990, he made the pilgrimage to Mecca and subsequently wrote two books on the subject.

He is currently Co-Executive Producer and President of Unity Productions Foundation, a nonprofit media company that produces documentary films for television.

For more information see Wikipedia and Who's Who in America, 60th Education.
Authors Guild website: www.michaelwolfe.net

Publication History

Cut These Words into My Stone: Ancient Greek Epitaphs in Translations. 160 pages, Johns Hopkins U. Press, 2013.
Greek to Me. Verse. Blue Press. 2012
Paradise: Reading Notes. Verse. Blue Press, 2010.
Taking Back Islam: American Muslims Reclaim their Faith. Essays. 120 pages, Rodale Press, 2003.
One Thousand Roads to Mecca: Ten Centuries of Travelers Writing about the Muslim Pilgrimage. Travel. 620 pages, Grove Press, 1997.
The Hadj: An American's Pilgrimage to Mecca. Travel. 331 pages, Atlantic Monthly Press, New York, 1993.
Invisible Weapons. Stories. 177 pages, Creative Arts, 1986.
In Morocco. Travel writing, Sombre Reptiles, Berkeley Ca, 1980
No, You Wore Red. Verse, Tombouctou, Bolinas CA, 1980
How Love Gets Around. Verse, Soft Press, Vancouver, B.C., 1976
World Your Own. Verse, Calliope Press, Vermont, 1974

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on November 15, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"Taking Back Islam: American Muslims Reclaim Their Faith" is an anthology edited by Michael Wolfe and the producers of the Internet site "beliefnet." Altogether there are more than 40 short essays contained in this 240-plus-xiv page book. The introduction by Wolfe notes that the contributors are "progressive, mostly American, Muslims."
The essays are thematically grouped into a number of larger sections: "Violence," "Democracy," "Women and Islam," "The African-American Experience," and more. As a whole this is an absolutely fascinating and illuminating collection of voices. Among the many topics covered are Quranic interpretation, Muslim humor, the roles played by mosques in America, fasting, Sufism, the impact of the 9/11 attacks, and sectarianism within Islam. It's not a sanitized book--the essays cover some difficult and controversial material.
There are some real standout pieces in this anthology. Mas'ood Cajee's "'Mom Raised Me as a Zionist'" is a funny and touching account of growing up in both South Africa and the U.S. and of his encounters with the Jewish community. Arsalan Tariq Iftikhar's "I Believe in Allah and America" is a genuinely stirring piece in which the author declares, "I am a Muslim and I am an American. I am proud of both and will compromise neither."
This is a thought provoking and valuable book which I especially recommend to Americans regardless of their religious beliefs. It's a book suitable for both classroom use and individual reading.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By M M on May 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book will go nicely on your coffee table to fill those waiting moments or spark conversation with your guests. Composed of over 40 brief entries written by or about Muslims on a variety of subjects pertaining to the Islamic experience in America, it offers views and insights that will challenge the prevailing notions of both Muslim and non-Muslim readers. While I wrestled with some essays that seemed to throw caution to the wind on controversial issues, I could still see the overall benefit in essays that provoke the re-examination of common assumptions. I especially enjoyed the sections on culture, "Vibrant" Islam, and "Why I Love Being Muslim".

The premise of the book is that the silent majority of "moderate" Muslims need to speak up and define themselves, in contrast to the distorted characterization Islam has suffered in the American media since 9/11. One very significant point this book illustrates is that Islam is not a monolith, and while Muslims are able to unite (for the most part) side-by-side in the same mosques for prayer, there are many issues that Muslims hold a variety of opinions on. In fact, in some ways I am afraid this book fails to fully capture the breadth of Muslim opinion. But if it is widely read, it will certainly provoke discussion and important questions for Muslims to consider. For example, I am sure many Muslims will take issue with the new "Progressive Muslim" movement's undertones in a few chapters, though I must reiterate, the questions provoked by Progressives need to be taken seriously. American Muslim youth will certainly ask them and will probably not be satisfied with the "this is what we found our father's doing" type of answers. Instead we need answers that balance our traditions against the continuous need for renewal.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful By "yeayea" on December 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The seperate essays make this an easy book to put down and pick back up...but you prolly won't want to. If you are a new covert then this will have you goin' "yeah....yeah...yeah". If you ARE a new convert...hey? have u learned how to pray yet? If your not muslim this book gives you alotta info about how most moderate (as opposed to extremists) muslims feel about the state of Islam as it exists in the States. Peace be with ALL of you!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mariyah R on October 18, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Taking back Islam is a compilation of different essays on topics about Islam in the Western post 9/11 world and covers different topics in Islam from the western Muslim's perspective. Muslims and non-Muslims alike would benefit from reading some of the writings presented here. From the essay on the American Muslim by the now president of the ISNA Ingrid Mattson to the interesting article by the former Cat Stevens, Yusuf Islam, on "Islam Sings" Most readers can find something in this collection that could draw some insight into the lives of Muslims in a world dominated by other cultures and religions. True, I did not agree with all the positions presents in some of the individual works but this book is like the American Culture, a melting pot of different ideas and attitudes quilted into a harmonious and stimulating stew. A must read!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By AWAIR Reviews on April 22, 2011
Format: Paperback
Michael Wolfe, author of "The Hadj: A First-Person Account" and "One Thousand Roads to Mecca" as well as our narrator of the Nightline Video on Hajj, moderates 35 expert leaders, writers, and speakers. They discuss the future of Islam, tear down stereotypes, review the historical realities that have shaped the religion, and examine paradoxes and schisms within the faith.

Teachers/Librarians: 9th grade to Adult - Social Studies/Humanities.
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