American Muslim Women: Divisions Within Unity

Paul Harvey

From the new edition of Choice, a short review of a book that should be of interest to some here, fyi.

Karim, Jamillah
. American Muslim women: negotiating race, class, and gender within the Ummah. New York University, 2009. 292p bibl index afp; ISBN 9780814748091, $75.00; ISBN 9780814748107 pbk, $23.00. Reviewed in 2009dec CHOICE.
Karim (religious studies, Spelman College), a second generation African American Muslim scholar, explores the complex relationship between African American Muslims and South Asian Muslim immigrants in the context of the larger US Muslim community, which is estimated to number three to six million people. Karim's focus is on women members of the African American and South Asian immigrant Muslim communities of Chicago and Atlanta and the way they experience and interpret their interactions as they come together in private homes, Arabic classes, and mosques. The author's interest is on how "religious identity influences race relations and how race affects religious identity" (p.6) and on what a shared religious identity as Muslims means in a racially divided society. In other words, does the notion of a universal Muslim community, the ummah, with its ideals of sisterhood and brotherhood and social justice, transcend racial and cultural differences? Drawing on her own life and the lives of the many women she interviewed, Karim reveals the subtle and uneasy ways in which racial, ethnic, class, and gender divisions in the US interact to challenge the idealized notion of a united Muslim community. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. -- A. Rassam, emerita, CUNY Queens College