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The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman's Journey to Love and Islam Paperback – June 7, 2011
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From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
From a student's philosophic interest in Islam to a religious awakening in the hospital while suffering from what she calls adrenal distress, to Egypt, where she accepted a teaching position for a year, to meeting Omar, her adored and adoring soon-to-be Sufi husband and his extended family--all against the backdrop of the Middle Eastern way of life in Cairo, that overcrowded, overhot, overdusty great city of the Nile.
Willow's descriptive and analytical powers are at once affectionate and insightful. The Middle Eastern way of life, with its emphasis on family and community interdependence instead of independence, its Islamic tradition of courtesy and hospitality, and its foundation of religion woven into every aspect of daily living, is something few in the secular West seem to appreciate.
Indeed, the Middle East division of the State Department as well as Western Think Tanks and Islamic Studies seminars would benefit greatly if The Butterfly Mosque were required reading.
Her candor is both refreshing and thoughtfully intelligent, and her bravery in forging a common ground, a space in which to live with her husband and within Islam the way her heart beckoned, is to glimpse what is left unsaid, but there between the lines--those that accept their calling and follow their heart are on the Divine path, no matter their religion.
If you have not yet read this wise and intimate memoir, buy a copy now, or order it online here, or check it out of your local library. Willow's is a life worth knowing.
Her observations of American and Egyptian cultures are astute, however there are moments when she risks overgeneralizing, and is particularly harsh towards other Westerners. While perhaps deserved in some instances, she seems to fall into the phenomenon of those who have joined a new group and, having recently become aware of their past insensitivities and gaffs, are eager to distance themselves from others.
I agree with other reviews that note the limited information about her 'journey to Islam'. The reasons she gives for her conversion seem somewhat superficial and leave the reader wanting more. Given its classification as a memoir, one also longs for more information about her American and Egyptian family and her relationship to them. Her sketches of family members are tender yet minimal. As written everyone seems generally happy and supportive about her conversion, marriage, and decision to live in Egypt. While this may be so, one can't help but wonder about tensions behind the scenes. Of course in a memoir it's always a delicate balance between what to keep private and what to expose.Read more ›
Her story, however, does not focus upon this process, nor upon how she fell in love with an Egyptian and got married. Hers is a story that pulls the disparate elements of her life into a whole that makes sense. It's a multi-layered story that not only reveals who she is as an American, but who the Egyptians are, and how the enormous, but sometimes subtle differences between American and Egyptian culture really do clash in ways we cannot predict.
She writes authentically, honestly. I know this because I, too, married an Egyptian, and spent some time in Egypt. No American can write about living in Egypt without addressing the difficulties of daily life there, or the discomfort of trying to stay healthy in a polluted environment. At the same time, no one can deny the spirit of generosity and optimism that percolates through the national character of Egyptians. Egyptians themselves are what make Egypt livable and actually lovable.
This book is a gift to those who would venture into the waters of an intercultural life. It is especially good reading for those who have an interest in Egypt. It is not an apology, nor is it a explanation of, or justification for, the more controversial aspects of Islam. It is a memoir, not a textbook.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book will was beautifully written, incredibly informative, and more than I expected in every way. I cried twice. Read morePublished 1 month ago by kittytoes
Too many subjects all jumble up. More of a travelogue and her life in Egypt rather than her problems of being a convert.Published 1 month ago by Pakhri
An honest look at Cairo and the complications of merging cultures. Also a refreshing look at Islam. It brought back memories of my years in an Arabic country.... Read morePublished 2 months ago by mary Leighton
Ms. Wilson traveled to Egypt as a "secret" Muslim, ostensibly to put her Arabic studies degree to use. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Martha
The Butterfly Mosque is the memoir of an American woman raised in a secular family who discovers the value of religion during her travel to Egypt. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Joann R. Greene
Another silly lemming White woman thinks it's Kuuel to willingly join a community of misogynists.Published 9 months ago by Nick