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Islam: Culture, Diversity, and Religion

By Skokie Staff Advisory Services

Islam is the second largest world religion. It is also one of the most misunderstood. These books provide a window and a mirror to those who would like to learn more about the religion, its influence on culture, and the tireless work of Muslims who stand up against Islamophobia.

  • The Story of the Qur'an: Its History and Place in Muslim Life

    2013 by Mattson, Ingrid

    A wonderful introduction to the Qur'an, the Holy Scripture in Islam, which was received during the Holy month of Ramadan, by a well-known Islamic scholar. This book offers a balanced portrayal of the Qur'an and its place in historic and contemporary Muslim society. Recommended by Rummanah.

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  • The Islam Book

    2020

    Written by seven experts and three consultants, this accessible and excellent primer covers every aspect of the Muslim faith and its history to the present day in short, concise excerpts. The layout of text boxes with context and quotations, sidebars, timelines, architectural diagrams, and other lively graphics help readers note key points and follow the narrative. Recommended by Rummanah.

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  • 1001 Inventions: The Enduring Legacy of Muslim Civilization

    2012

    A sprawling but approachable overview of Muslim heritage, introducing readers to Muslim contributions in medicine, technology, economics, civilization, and more. A treasure of fascinating information beautifully presented. Recommended by Chris.

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  • Contemporary Muslim Fashions

    2018

    This lavish and gorgeous fashion photography book presented by the de Young Museum explores all facets of contemporary Muslim modest dress, from historic styles to present-day designs to a major exhibition, and reveals the enormous range of self-expression through fashion achieved by Muslim men and women. Along with the breathtaking photographs are illuminating essays and personal narratives by leading voices in the fashion industry that touch on everything from culture to history, politics to race, and self expression to social media. Recommended by Rummanah.

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  • Feast: Food of the Islamic World

    2018 by Helou, Anissa

    This gorgeously photographed and award winning cookbook has over 300 recipes from the Middle East, Africa, and Indonesia, and explores the history and tradition of Islamic cuisine. Recommended by Rummanah.

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  • Muslims of the World: Portraits and Stories of Hope, Survival, Loss, and Love

    2018 by Shah, Sajjad

    Based off the popular Instagram account of the same name, Muslims of the World seeks to tell the stories of Muslims living in the U.S. and around the world. Similar to Humans of New York, this is a colorful, authentic look at over 60 different Muslims from all walks of life. Recommended by Chris.

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  • Muslims and the Making of America

    2016 by Hussain, Amir

    Taking former President Barack Obama's observation that "Islam has always been a part of America's story" as a starting point, this accessible book offers a crash course in the role Muslims have played in US history. While acknowledging that the first Muslims on the North American continent were enslaved Africans, Hussain accentuates the positive, telling the stories of athletes, entertainers, and other cultural figures likely to be familiar to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Recommended by Andrew.

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  • Letters to a Young Muslim

    2017 by Ghobash, Omar Saif

    Omar Saif Ghobash is the current UAE Ambassador to France. Written in the similar vein as James Baldwin's The Fire Next Time and Ta Nehisi Coates' Between the World and Me, Ghobash offers advice to his sons on how to navigate and grow up Muslim without resorting to extremism. A short, highly readable, and though provoking manifesto for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Recommended by Rummanah.

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  • I Am the Night Sky: & Other Reflections by Muslim American Youth / By the Writers And Artists of Next Wave Muslim Initiative; Foreword by Hena Khan

    2019

    The Next Wave Muslim Initiative is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to humanize American Muslims in light of rising Islamophobia. This diverse and inclusive collection of stories, essays, poetry, and art for and written by Muslim teens is captivating, enlightening, and uplifting. Each piece confronts anti-Muslim discrimination and explores what it means to be young and Muslim in America today. Recommended by Rummanah.

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  • Muslim Women Are Everything: Stereotype-Shattering Stories of Courage, Inspiration, and Adventure

    2020 by Yasmin, Seema

    Inspired by the author's growing frustration of the proverbial submissive and oppressed Muslim women stereotype, this collective biography, accompanied by stunning illustrations, features riveting, inspiring, and stereotype-shattering stories that reveal the beauty, diversity, and strength of international Muslim women both past and present and from a wide range of beliefs in Islam and communities. Recommended by Rummanah.

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  • Muslim Girl: A Coming of Age

    2016 by Al-Khatahtbeh, Amani

    Amani Al-Khatahbeh is the CEO and founder of the popular MuslimGirl.com, a collaborative blog and media outlet dedicated to changing the narrative of Muslims in the media. In her thought provoking coming-of-age memoir, she shares her harrowing and candid account of what it’s like to be a young Muslim woman in the wake of 9/11 and the era of Islamophobia. Recommended by Rummanah.

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  • Love Thy Neighbor: A Muslim Doctor's Struggle for Home in Rural America

    2019 by Virji, Ayaz

    This clear-eyed and courageous memoir follows the life of Ayaz Virji, a Muslim doctor, as he and his family maneuver through rural Minnesota. Through a series of lectures and vignettes, Virji shows the misconceptions that many hold of Muslims, the hatred that many Muslims face, and the work that is being done by the likes of Virji and others to combat these atrocities. This is an absolute must-read as Kirkus calls the book "strong medicine for an age plagued by the ills of xenophobia, misinformation, and distrust." Recommended by Paul.

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  • The Autobiography of Malcolm X

    1999 by X, Malcolm

    Malcolm X chronicles his life from early childhood and poverty to his great awakening. While incarcerated, Malcom X joined the Nation of Islam, an American separatist sect, and embraced the religion and the brotherhood. As Malcolm begins to meet more traditional Muslims, he decides to make hajj. It is on this journey that he finds enlightenment and converts to traditional Islam. Recommended by Michelle.

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  • Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation

    2007 by Patel, Eboo

    Eboo Patel is the founder of Interfaith Youth Core, a non-profit organization dedicated to bringing people of different faiths together and finding common values to build a shared life. His memoir traces his own struggle as an angry youth, and how he was transformed by faith and community, becoming a leading activist for interfaith dialogue and for the cause of peace. Recommended by Rummanah.

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  • This Is What America Looks Like: My Journey From Refugee to Congresswoman

    2020 by Omar, Ilhan

    Following Ilhan Omar's life from Somalia to her first year in Congress, this memoir is both inspirational and poignant. Kirkus says "Page after page, Omar is by turns fierce, self-deprecating, and confident, and, with the assistance of Paley, she has produced a smoothly readable narrative. No matter a reader's personal politics, Omar's life should serve as an inspiration". Recommended by Paul.

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  • Life as a Unicorn: A Journey From Shame to Pride and Everything in Between

    2020 by Al-Kadhi, Amrou

    Amrou realized that they were gay when they were 10. Their family, however, worked hard to deny everything Amrou knew to be true. Al-Kadhi doesn't only share their life but also finds understanding in their actions. They thoughtfully criticize society and their family and don't shy away from the internalized Islamophobia and homophobia throughout their journey. This is the type of book that will have you laughing one moment and crying the next. Recommended by Becca.

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  • First Comes Marriage: My Not-So-Typical American Love Story

    2018 by Al-Marashi, Huda

    There is always discussion within the Muslim community about "love marriages" vs traditional arranged marriages. This heartfelt, engaging memoir sits within that discussion. Al-Marashi grew up and learned about love from television and movies, but sometimes that "romantic" notion collides with the complexity of love in real life. Recommended by Rummanah.

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  • That Can Be Arranged: A Muslim Love Story

    2020 by Fahmy, Huda

    This graphic memoir is based on Huda's experience in her early 20s looking for love. Fahmy has an amazing ability to poke fun at her experience while still conveying the charm of finding her husband and falling in love. It's a quick read (you can finish it in one sitting!) and you'll be running to the shelves to learn more about her life. Recommended by Becca.

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  • Open Skies: My Life as Afghanistan's First Female Pilot

    2021 by Rahmani, Niloofar

    Niloofur Rahmani became the first Afghani female fixed-wing pilot for the Afghan Air Force in 2013. She received the International women of Courage Award in 2015. In her moving and inspiring memoir, she shares not only how she had to break through social barriers to achieve her dream but also the price she and her family had to pay for pursuing her passion to fly. Recommended by Rummanah.

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