100 contemporary books written by muslims that are powerful weapons of mass enlightenment

Fear is rooted in ignorance. What could be more powerful than an understanding that's more than skin deep? And what medium holds more power than the written word? These books are weapons of education in their own right.
Reading Lolita in Tehran
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Reading Lolita in Tehran

by Azar Nafisi

About the book:  We all have dreams—things we fantasize about doing and generally never get around to. This is the story of Azar Nafisi’s dream and of the nightmare that made it come true. For two years before she left Iran in 1997, Nafisi gathered seven young women at her house every Thursday morning to read and discuss forbidden works of Western literature. They were all former students whom she had taught at university. Some came from conservative and religious families, others were progressive and secular; several had spent time in jail. They were shy and uncomfortable at first, unaccustomed to being asked to speak their minds, but soon they began to open up and to speak more freely, not only about the novels they were reading but also about themselves, their dreams and disappointments. Their stories intertwined with those they were reading—Pride and Prejudice, Washington Square, Daisy Miller and Lolita—their Lolita, as they imagined her in Tehran. Nafisi’s account flashes back to the early days of the revolution, when she first started teaching at the University of Tehran amid the swirl of protests and demonstrations. In those frenetic days, the students took control of the university, expelled faculty members and purged the curriculum. When a radical Islamist in Nafisi’s class questioned her decision to teach The Great Gatsby, which he saw as an immoral work that preached falsehoods of “the Great Satan,” she decided to let him put Gatsby on trial and stood as the sole witness for the defense. Azar Nafisi’s luminous tale offers a fascinating portrait of the Iran-Iraq war viewed from Tehran and gives us a rare glimpse, from the inside, of women’s lives in revolutionary Iran. It is a work of great passion and poetic beauty, written with a startlingly original voice. From the Hardcover edition.

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Brick Lane
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Brick Lane

by Monica Ali

About the book:  “A book you won’t be able to put down. A Bangladeshi immigrant in London is torn between the kind, tedious older husband with whom she has an arranged marriage (and children) and the fiery political activist she lusts after. A novel that’s multi-continental, richly detailed and elegantly crafted.” —Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Sisterland After an arranged marriage to Chanu, a man twenty years older, Nazneen is taken to London, leaving her home and heart in the Bangladeshi village where she was born. Her new world is full of mysteries. How can she cross the road without being hit by a car (an operation akin to dodging raindrops in the monsoon)? What is the secret of her bullying neighbor Mrs. Islam? What is a Hell's Angel? And how must she comfort the naïve and disillusioned Chanu? As a good Muslim girl, Nazneen struggles to not question why things happen. She submits, as she must, to Fate and devotes herself to her husband and daughters. Yet to her amazement, she begins an affair with a handsome young radical, and her erotic awakening throws her old certainties into chaos. Monica Ali’s splendid novel is about journeys both external and internal, where the marvelous and the terrifying spiral together.

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An Unnecessary Woman
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An Unnecessary Woman

by Rabih Alameddine

About the book:  An obsessive introvert in Beirut, eschewed by her family and neighbors for her divorced status and lack of religious reverence, quietly translates favorite books into Arabic while struggling with her aging body until an unthinkable disaster threatens what little life remains to her. By the best-selling author of The Hakawati. 20,000 first printing.

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In the Footsteps of the Prophet
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In the Footsteps of the Prophet

by Tariq Ramadan

About the book:  Named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most important innovators of the century, Tariq Ramadan is a leading Muslim scholar, with a large following especially among young European and American Muslims. Now, in his first book written for a wide audience, he offers a marvelous biography of the Prophet Muhammad, one that highlights the spiritual and ethical teachings of one of the most influential figures in human history. In the Footsteps of the Prophet is a fresh and perceptive look at Muhammad, capturing a life that was often eventful, gripping, and highly charged. Ramadan provides both an intimate portrait of a man who was shy, kind, but determined, as well as a dramatic chronicle of a leader who launched a great religion and inspired a vast empire. More important, Ramadan presents the main events of the Prophet's life in a way that highlights his spiritual and ethical teachings. The book underscores the significance of the Prophet's example for some of today's most controversial issues, such as the treatment of the poor, the role of women, Islamic criminal punishments, war, racism, and relations with other religions. Selecting those facts and stories from which we can draw a profound and vivid spiritual picture, the author asks how can the Prophet's life remain -- or become again -- an example, a model, and an inspiration? And how can Muslims move from formalism -- a fixation on ritual -- toward a committed spiritual and social presence? In this thoughtful and engaging biography, Ramadan offers Muslims a new understanding of Muhammad's life and he introduces non-Muslims not just to the story of the Prophet, but to the spiritual and ethical riches of Islam.

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The Muslim Next Door
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The Muslim Next Door

by Sumbul Ali-Karamali

About the book:  An accessible introduction to Islam by an American Muslim shares comprehensive and academically sound answers to key questions about such topics as jihad, Islamic fundamentalism, and women's rights. Original.

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The Domestic Crusaders
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The Domestic Crusaders

by Wajahat Ali

About the book:  The Domestic Crusaders focuses on a day in the life of a modern Muslim Pakistani-American family of six eclectic, unique members, who convene at the family house to celebrate the twenty-first birthday of the youngest child. With a background of 9-11 and the scapegoating of Muslim Americans, the tensions and sparks fly among the three generations, culminating in an intense family battle as each "crusader" struggles to assert and impose their respective voices and opinions, while still attempting to maintain and understand that unifying thread that makes them part of the same family.

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The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf
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The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf

by Mohja Kahf

About the book:  Growing up devoutly Muslim in her 1970s Indiana community, Syrian immigrant Najla Shamy and her siblings struggle to balance the cultures of America and their family, a coming-of-age challenge that the adult Najla remembers years later when she reconnects with friends from other mixed heritages. Original.

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How Does it Feel to be a Problem?
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How Does it Feel to be a Problem?

by Moustafa Bayoumi

About the book:  A study of the Arab- and Muslim-American experience as reflected in the lives of seven young men and women in Brooklyn evaluates their encounters with prejudice and their relationships with friends and family members in the Middle East.

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This Muslim American Life
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This Muslim American Life

by Moustafa Bayoumi

About the book:  Over the last few years, Moustafa Bayoumi has been an extra in Sex and the City 2 playing a generic Arab, a terrorist suspect (or at least his namesake “Mustafa Bayoumi” was) in a detective novel, the subject of a trumped-up controversy because a book he had written was seen by right-wing media as pushing an “anti-American, pro-Islam” agenda, and was asked by a U.S. citizenship officer to drop his middle name of Mohamed. Others have endured far worse fates. Sweeping arrests following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 led to the incarceration and deportation of thousands of Arabs and Muslims, based almost solely on their national origin and immigration status. The NYPD, with help from the CIA, has aggressively spied on Muslims in the New York area as they go about their ordinary lives, from noting where they get their hair cut to eavesdropping on conversations in cafés. In This Muslim American Life, Moustafa Bayoumi reveals what the War on Terror looks like from the vantage point of Muslim Americans, highlighting the profound effect this surveillance has had on how they live their lives. To be a Muslim American today often means to exist in an absurd space between exotic and dangerous, victim and villain, simply because of the assumptions people carry about you. In gripping essays, Bayoumi exposes how contemporary politics, movies, novels, media experts and more have together produced a culture of fear and suspicion that not only willfully forgets the Muslim-American past, but also threatens all of our civil liberties in the present.

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Veils
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Veils

by Nahid Rachlin

About the book:  The ten stories in Veils take place in present-day Iran or in the United States where Iranian immigrants face alien ways. Teheran's ancient Ghanat Abad Avenue, with its labyrinth of narrow streets and alleys, loosely links the stories into a single narrative: some residents leave as soon as they can, others can live nowhere else. The men and women in these spare and sensuous narratives who are caught in the confusing whirl of changing cultures sometimes meet with failure but more often transcend difficult circumstances to gain deeper self-knowledge.

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