American Islam: The Struggle for the Soul of a Religion

03/14/2007 12:00 AM |

In this relatively slim book, Paul M. Barrett sets out on a gargantuan task: to provide an intellectual panorama of the modern Muslim voices in America. He accomplishes this feat swimmingly, almost seamlessly, save some jarring interjections of his own voice and insights that often raise questions about the author’s own objectivity.

From a Muslim newspaper publisher in Michigan who wavers in choosing his political party to a West Virginian feminist who refuses to enter through the back of her local mosque, and on to a radically fundamentalist (or so says the government) webmaster in Idaho, Barrett encompasses almost every viewpoint imaginable. More importantly, he does so in a humanistic manner, making it difficult not to empathize with this growing segment of the population that is often regarded as foreign (and suspect). While Barrett sometimes oversteps his bounds, positing difficult conclusions that would be best left to the reader, this book is a great resource for anyone who wants to know about how Muslims in America view their world.