Women’s Emancipation in Mohja Kahf’s ‘Emails from Scheherazad’ (2003)

I am Fatima: Negotiating Identities in Contemporary American-Muslim Women’s Writing Series

Mohja Kahf the poet, novelist and scholar, was born in 1960 in Damascus, Syria and moved with her family to America’s Midwest in 1971. She is a professor of comparative literature at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and the writer of two poetry collections […] Kahf’s collection of poetry, ‘Emails from Scheherazad’ (EFS) explores the struggle of Muslim women to reclaim their own identity and reverse American myths and stereotypes of the Muslim world, especially Muslim women. In doing so, Kahf alludes to Muslim Women’s forebears, such as Asiya, Mary, Balqis, Khadija, Fatima, and Scheherazad. Scheherazad, the Queen and the story teller in ‘One Thousand and One Nights’, is a hero for Muslim women as she successfully revered the King’s physical violence into magnificent stories, which made the King wiser in understanding humanity. Continue reading

America’s First Muslim Convert: Alexander Russell Webb

The Nineteenth Century was a period of unprecedented religious innovation within the United States, writes John L. Crow (Florida State University). It was also at this time that America started looking east and paying attention to the religions of India, China, and Japan. By the end of the century, the first American Buddhist organization was founded by Japanese missionaries in California. It was during this period when so many eyes were looking east that Alexander Russell Webb found Islam. Continue reading

The religious life of Malcolm X

Considering the profound impact Islam had on the life of Malcolm X, particularly in shaping his political views and changing his ideology of racism, Preeti Bath argues, it is an aspect of his life that needs to be further researched in order to truly understand the religious journey of Malcolm X (Malik E Shabazz), from an atheist to a minister for the NOI to a Sunni Muslim. Continue reading

As American as Apple Pie: U.S. Female Converts to Islam

As U.S. citizens who understand American cultural and societal norms, American female converts to Islam are in a good position to serve as advocates and agents for change, not only for themselves, but also on behalf of their fellow Muslim Americans. These American voices are offering a challenge to both the greater non-Muslim American community and the Muslim American community in clearly articulated, individual voices saying: I am a ‘real American’, I am a ‘real Muslim’, I am ready to have the conversation. You bring the vanilla ice cream – I’ll bring the apple pie. Continue reading

Youth Politics and Dispelling the Image of The Terrible Turk with Selma Ekrem’s Autobiography, Unveiled

Within the confines of Ekrem’s autobiography rests not only a riveting exploration of the final hours of the Ottoman Empire, but one is allowed a unique glimpse behind the veils of Istanbul. It has further merits in that, through her use of her childhood and female memories, Ekrem was able to begin to dispel the “vague ideas of daggers, veils, ephemeral silks and heavy incense” that dominated one’s perception of Turkey and to chink at the armor of the Terrible Turk, “[a] huge person with fierce black eyes and bushy eyebrows, carrying daggers covered with blood.” Continue reading

Racializing “Muslims”: Constructing a Muslim Archetype

More recently scholars, including those focusing on European Muslims, have incorporated the racialization framework to complement, rather than replace, Orientalism and Islamophobia to explain how Muslims experience prejudice and discrimination. This paper reinforces the racialization framework by arguing that in the United States Muslims have become victims of race-based violence through the construction of visible archetype of “Muslim” utilizing symbolic markers such as name, dress, phenotype, and language (Naber 2008). How do we explain the experiences of Muslims, who are ethnically, nationally, racially, and phenotypically diverse, in terms of racism? Continue reading

Contemporary Pakistani American Women Writers: Writing their own stories, finding their own voices

Instead of presenting homogeneous views of the Pakistani American experience of immigrant or second-generation women, each of the authors articulates the need to be different in order to define and decide the lives of their women characters in their respective fiction. They present the Pakistani identity as well as the influence of Islam in the lives of their protagonists, not as a central element, but as another trait that adds to the individual characters. They, therefore, voice unique lives and present diverse stories that reflect select stories of the Pakistani American women’s experience in and among the Other in the US. Continue reading

Reading Islamophobia in Azar Nafisi’s “Reading Lolita in Tehran”

One of the more subtle platforms from which RLT promotes its unique Islamophobic agenda is the recurrent rendering of Islam as tantamount to Marxism and Communism in their alleged totalitarianism, strategies, and end results. In her discussion of the political milieu that dominated the immediate post-Revolution sociopolitical landscape in Iran, Nafisi’s memoir is predisposed to equate the predominant Islamic movement of the time with those of the Marxist and Communist parties. Continue reading

“Atomic Ayatollahs”: The ‘Islamic Bomb’ in 1980s American News Media

The ‘Islamic bomb’ is and was shorthand for a perceived pan-Islamic desire for nuclear capability. Eliding nuanced understandings of the significant differences between strands of Islam, the diversity of the ‘Muslim world’, and the many different reasons why a country might (or might not) seek nuclear status, the ‘Islamic bomb’ was a trope that essentialised Islam and implied a monolithic religious bloc. Wilful misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the ‘Islamic world’ and its relationship with nuclear weapons have, however, been a feature of US media reporting since the late 1970s. Continue reading

Islam and Americanness as Antitheses in Contemporary Media Discourses

Tropes created by much of corporate media suggest an incompatibility of ‘Americanness’ and the American-constructed image of ‘Islam.’ Whereas islamophobic tendencies in the US public sphere have been evident for a while, current approaches in the media are reaching new degrees of bigotry by propagating an alleged Islamic threat and evoking an omnipresence of fear. The construction of ‘Islam’ works flexibly enough to perpetually represent an antagonism to ‘Americanness’ which needs to be resisted and fought. Continue reading