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Blue-Eyed Devil: A Road Odyssey Through Islamic America Paperback – May 1, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michael Muhammad Knight converted to Islam at sixteen after reading Malcolm X's biography, and spent two months at Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, Pakistan. He later left orthodox Islam. His writing regularly appears in progressive Islamic venues. He lives in Western New York State.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press (May 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593762402
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593762407
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.1 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #527,278 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By K. Frankel on December 6, 2009
Format: Paperback
Blue-Eyed Devil is a memoir that describes a series of road trips around the United States to places related to both the history and current practice of Islam in America. The traveler, Michael Muhammad Knight, is a white American punk rocker and professional wrestling fan, who converted to Islam as a teenager after listening to a lot of hip hop and watching Spike Lee's Malcolm X. Following his conversion he went to study in mosques in Pakistan. Several of the Asian American Muslims he encounters refer to him as Johnny Walker, after John Walker Lindh. However, Knight is far from a fundamentalist, and poignantly describes various challenges he faces regarding his faith, relationships, and life in general. The journeys in this book take place more than ten years after his conversion.

Knight's journeys take him to places ranging from the giant national ISNA conference in the Chicago convention center, to "building" with members of the Five Percent Nation (an off-shoot of the Nation of Islam that is very influential in hip hop) in Harlem and Brooklyn, and hanging out with Muslim hardcore bands in San Francisco that are into veganism and kung fu. I enjoy books that take me into worlds that I know little about, and this one certainly did. As a non-Muslim, I appreciated the glossary of Arabic terms at the back of the book, which I had to flip back to frequently. Plenty of background information is provided on historical figures he mentions, or whose graves he attempts to visit: The Honorable Elijah Mohammed, Noble Drew Ali, etc. In particular, he spends a lot of time on trying to track down the interesting and mysterious story of W.D. Fard, who is regarded as an avatar of Allah by the Nation of Islam.
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Format: Paperback
Michael Muhammad Knight opens the book with an epigram: "The pure products of America go crazy." Knight has lived an interesting enough life that "Blue-Eyed Devil" defies easy categorization. The book alternates between honest, personal vignettes; ethnographies; road-trip memoir and offbeat history lessons effortlessly. Knight is a man trying to find what place a blue-eyed devil has in Islam, and how Islam fits in the American experience. To try to find some kind of answer, embarks on a road trip--an what could be more American than that? He travels 20,000 miles on a Greyhound bus, makes mischief at stuffy conventions, searches for the identity behind the Nation of Islam's mysterious WD Fard, and gets sued for his trouble.

The book is also hilarious, since Knight's anarchistic style undergirds his genuinely moving quest to understand his place in the world. "Blue-Eyed Devil" is totally unlike any other book you'll read, and quintessentially American.
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Format: Paperback
Honest and insightful, M.M. Knight's "Blue eyed Devil" provides its non-Muslim readers with an outside looking in perspective they may be able to relate to and its Muslim readers with the inside looking out view that they are able to relate to. As such, the book lends itself to bringing these two distinct groups to a position of understanding and empathy for the other's angle. Knight confronts the plague of extremism crippling all religions and faiths but in this case most specifically Islam through a captivating narrative which is all the more attractive by the reality that it is coming from a man of Islam who does not fit the aesthetic typecast held in the mind of the west. Yet the very fact that this Blue Eyed Devil exists within Islam is symbolic of the fact that Islam has not one face but many and while extremism seems to be the one dominating the public conscience at this point in time we learn from Knight's book that there are myriad colors, nationalities, ethnicity, languages and regions that make up Islam. However, the book is most successful for its revelation of Islam in its different aspects within America itself. From the Nation of Islam to the 5 percenters, to a Muslim girl and family in Arkansas to a rock band consisting of Muslims, readers are awakened to the reality that Islam stretches from every boundary of America. Yet the events take place within the more narrowed narrative of Knight's search for understanding of himself, leading him to his ill father, and people who practice their faith in starkly different ways; it is through him that the reader is best able to empathize with the plight of not just a Muslim-American man but of a human being like any other seeking to find meaning for himself through discovery of himself via the exploration of others of whom he belongs to.
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Format: Paperback
This book is amazing, something you should already be able to tell by my title in all caps. This was the first book that I read by Mike Knight and it just blew me away. This book deals with a man coming to terms with his religion and not knowing whether to leave it or stay with it. After reading this book I bought 3 more books by the same author. Michael Muhammad Knight is an entertaining writer and also writes explanations about some things in Islam in his books. I, myself, was able to relate to some of the things he wrote and that's not an easy thing to do. This book is worth all of your money and you won't regret reading it. If you're a conservative Muslim then you might find some of the things written offensive, but if you're a Muslim who practices their faith and isn't an extremist, you'll love this book. Honest and insightful, this book and author are things to look forward to in the future.
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