Believing as Ourselves

J. Lynn Jones, Beltsville, MD: Amana Publications, 2002. 160 pages.

This book represents the “female” side of a new genre in Islamic publishing. Jones, a white American convert, educated, well-read, and passionate about her native tongue and its literature, writes of her experiences as a female convert to Islam and, as the saying goes, “tells it like it is.” Like Jeffrey Lang, who provides the foreword, the author puts into words the confusion, hurt, bewilderment, and anguish that many converts feel after they come down from the giddy heights of “saying their shahadah,” – experiences that may all but extinguish the initial spark of excitement and enthusiasm.

Islam Our Choice: Portraits of Modern American Muslim Women

Debra L. Dirks & Stephanie Parlove, eds., USA: amana publications, 2003. 298 pages.

This book is a delightful read. The somewhat unoriginal title (compilations of conversion accounts under the title Islam Our Choice have been around for several decades, including stories that date back to the mid-twentieth century) belies the original and unique stories told within. However, these words might be rather startling for many non-Muslims, and thus pique their curiosity enough to pick up the book and inquire further. Islam Our Choice, aimed primarily at non-Muslim Americans, tells the stories of fellow Americans who have chosen to follow a different path but who are still Americans. The authors express the hope that “each non-Muslim American reader will probably be able to relate to and identify with the pre-Muslim background of at least one of the authors” (p. 2). The inclusion of family photos and illustrations adds to the book’s visual appeal and shows the contributors as ordinary Americans who are at home with their new identity as Muslims.

Muslim Teens: Today’s Worry, Tomorrow’s Hope

This is the second book on parenting by the husband-and-wife team of Dr. Ekram and Mohamed R. Beshir. Muslim Teens addresses an issue of deep concern to all Muslim parents: how to keep one’s children on the “straight path” when they reach the turbulent years of adolescence. The authors are professionals who have raised four daughters in Canada. Their daughters, now adults, have contributed to the book with insights from a teen’s point of view, based upon their own experiences of growing up Muslim in North America.

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