- Series: Columbia Contemporary American Religion Series
- Paperback: 355 pages
- Publisher: Columbia University Press; New Ed edition (May 15, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0231109679
- ISBN-13: 978-0231109673
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,424,663 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Islam in America New Ed Edition
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From Library Journal
This new series, written by leading scholars for students and general readers, portrays the diversity and complexity of religious life in America, focusing on the influence of Western society as a major challenge that religious groups will face in the 21st century. Both works contain profiles of noteworthy individuals, suggestions for further reading, glossaries, chronologies, and a list of web sites. Gillis (theology and Catholic studies, Georgetown Univ.) provides an excellent survey. In the chapter "Who Are the American Catholics?" for example, he breaks down types of Catholics by geography, ethnic background, and income; charts and informative statistics supplement the text without becoming tedious. This title includes a detailed synopsis of the history of Catholicism, with special emphasis on Vatican II and the tensions between Rome and AmericaApartially due to issues such as women's ordination, birth control, and abortion rights. Smith (Islamic studies, Hartford Seminary) writes a general introduction to Islam as practiced by American Muslims. Islam in America outlines the influences of a secular and materialistic Western culture, the keenly felt prejudices on the part of non-Muslims, and the misunderstandings between Muslims that often arise when they try to balance cultural expectations with the value system of the conservative Middle East. Of special interest is the chapter on African American Muslims and other smaller groups. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries. [For more on Islam, see "Bridging the Gap: Islam in America," LJ 10/1/98, p. 59-63.AEd.]AMichael W. Ellis, Ellenville P.L., N.
-AMichael W. Ellis, Ellenville P.L., NY
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"Straightforward, well-written, detailed account of Islam's emergence in the United States." -- Library Journal (starred review)
"Introductions to Islam are abundant. But one with a focus on the American experience, written in clear, readable English, with a balanced approach, solid documentation, and a list of resources with helpful annotations, is rare. Jane I. Smith's Islam in America has all these characteristics." -- Middle East Journal
"Fair, accessible, and detailed.... A straightforward account of the emergence in the United States of a major religious tradition." -- Gustav Niebuhr, The New York Times Book Review
"A much needed corrective to the negative stereotypes of Islam and Muslims that prevail in the United States... The importance of this work is that it demonstrates that there is no monolithic Islam, steadfastly attempting to undermine American values and interests." -- Anna Bigelow, The Journal of Religious Studies
"'Where is Islam?' one American woman asked Jane Smith, supposing it to be a country. Professor Smith... wrote this short and valuable book with just such people in mind." -- Roger Hardy, International Affairs
"For those who wish to understand the changing American religious landscape, understanding Islam and American Muslims is essential. Jane I. Smith is the perfect guide to start one on that path." -- John Esposito, author of The Oxford History of Islam, Christian Century
Top customer reviews
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Smith (Islamic studies, Hartford Seminary, Connecticut) covers beliefs, history, Muslim family life and the challenges believers face in a culture that esteems individualism and consumerism.
While Smith acknowledges anti-Muslim prejudice in this pluralistic society, she focuses mainly on the diversity of and trends in the US Muslim community. The book includes profiles of notable American Muslims; a chronology; a glossary of terms from "abd" to "zakat"; Internet as well as print, radio, and TV resources; and excellent photographs.
I would recommend this book for anybody interested in the Muslim diaspora in the States.
Here's the chapter breakdown:
Muslim Faith and Practice
Contributors to the Development of Islam
Islam Comes to America
Islam in the African American Community
Women and the Muslim American Family
Living a Muslim Life in American Society
The Public Practice of
Looking to the Future
American Muslims of Note
Resources for the Study of American Islam
I have read other books by other scholars and have found their perspectives sometimes colored by their political or spiritual beliefs. Too often is there an association of the religion with extremist groups, a subtle attempt to link the faith of the majority with the extremist fervor of a few. To the author's credit, she draws the line that distinguishes one from the other, pointing out that Islam - and those who sincerely practice it - rejects all forms of racism.
With Smith, there is a complete honesty in her analysis. She espouses no cause, but she certainly has revealed a remarkable knowledge of the history of Islam in the United States as well as of Islamic practices. I have no idea of her religion, but from the way she has written she could even be a liberal, analytical and very observant Muslim.
Smith's understanding of Islam and the Muslim community in America is so intimate and impressive that I have been corralling my wife and reading paragraphs and pages out aloud to her! My children are still too young to read the book by themselves, but it is already adding to our dinner-time discussions of what it means to be Muslim in America.
I borrowed the hardcover book from our local library - it was a surprising find in small-town America - and obviously intend to buy one to keep and re-read.
This is not to say that Smith's work is without merit. For readers with no background in Islam, she gives a fairly readable overview of the basic tenets of Islam and some of the tensions within the Muslim community in the United States. She is particularly good in her coverage of the development of Islam amongst African Americans and the relationship between Islamic practice and American identity politics.
For anyone with more than a passing knowledge of these issues, however, Smith's treatment will seem overly simple and far too defensive. Her work is remarkably uninformed by the study of Islam in other societies and makes no reference to scholarly debates regarding Islam in the United States. Her work shows a strong bias towards what she understands to be Orthodox practice and a corresponding disdain for synchretist movements. She mentions tensions within the Islamic community, but fails to give the reader enough details to understand the relative importance of the positions she mentions. In the end, Smith's work is readable, but not particularly enlightening. It could only be recommended to the reader with the absolute minimum of background on the subject.