Muslim life in the USA
September 1, 2008 9:08 PM   Subscribe

What are the best films and books on the Muslim experience in America?

My girlfriend is taking a class in which she is supposed to pair off with a culture other than her own for a couple of months - get to know the culture, get to know members of said culture, etc. She's chosen Muslims - specifically, Muslims living in America.

Phase One is just watching a couple of films about that culture. What are some of the best films and books (and frankly, any other media I'm not thinking of here) about the experiences of Muslims living in America? Could be Arab, Iranian, Bosnian, Asian, plain old American gringos - the only critical part is that they need to be Muslim. Come to think of it, a work that explores the differences between the different ethnicities of Muslims would be ideal.

I bow to your wisdom. Thanks in advance.
posted by McBearclaw to Media & Arts (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
No god but God was a great book. Not exactly a book about the "Muslim experience in America" so much as wide-ranging history piece. But a good layman's resource, nonetheless, and written very, very well.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:34 PM on September 1, 2008

Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking Toward the Third Resurrection, by Sherman Jackson: Simply brilliant. A comprehensive history of Islam among African-Americans written by a professor of theology and law at the University of Michigan, and a practicing muslim.

American Islam: The Struggle for the Soul of a Religion by Paul Barrett is good too. It is a series of vignettes about muslims in the US, with a good range of ethnicities and religious persuasions. (Full disclosure: a friend is among those interviewed.) Black muslims get short shrift though, so you should read Sherman Jackson's book too.
posted by BinGregory at 10:32 PM on September 1, 2008

Also, of course: The Autobiography of Malcolm X, book or movie.

(and frankly, any other media I'm not thinking of here)

Other Media:
- The community news site has a strong US focus.
- The videos of Baba Ali from Ummah Films are great looks into the issues important to muslim American young people.
- Blogs? Do you want blogs? A good start on English-language muslim blogs, which are mostly US-based, can be found through the Brass Crescent Awards. I'd recommend starting with Tariq Nelson and Umm Zaid.
posted by BinGregory at 11:01 PM on September 1, 2008

More Other Media:

There are a number of good magazines producing top-quality by-western-muslims, for-western-muslims media. If your girlfriend can't find them in her college library, she should request for them to be carried. They are:

Islamica Magazine
Q-News (UK)
Illume Media
posted by BinGregory at 11:25 PM on September 1, 2008

Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me) had an episode in the first season of 30 Days called Muslims in America. A Christian man from West Virginia spends a month with a Muslim couple living in the Muslim community of Dearborn, MI. You should be able to find it at your local video rental store or Netflix.
posted by plokent at 3:35 AM on September 2, 2008

Too slow. I was just about to suggest the 30 Days episode. It was great and very informative.

Obviously any of these must be taken with a small grain of salt because there are cameramen and the like...
posted by PixelatorOfTime at 4:57 AM on September 2, 2008

You can watch that episode of 30 Days over on Hulu.
posted by Teh Bean at 5:26 AM on September 2, 2008

She can see if she can get a hold of Stand Up: Muslim American Comics Come Of Age
posted by girlmightlive at 5:36 AM on September 2, 2008

I would recommend the book Islam in America.
posted by mattbucher at 7:25 AM on September 2, 2008

Little Mosque on the Prairie is a cheeky suggestion (you didn't specify USA) but worth a look.
posted by goo at 10:16 AM on September 2, 2008

And now I see your title. Duh. Still might be of interest, if your gf can stomach corny sitcoms.
posted by goo at 10:24 AM on September 2, 2008

Aliens in America on CW is a sitcom featuring a Pakistani exchange student in small town America.
posted by oceanmorning at 8:58 PM on September 2, 2008

Thanks, all! (This is the girlfriend.) These are fantastic suggestions, and have helped quite a bit. No God But God was already on my short list, but it's been moved to a must-read. I also expect the 30 Days episode to be useful--it's exactly the kind of thing I'm looking for, since it directly addresses the conflicts between Muslim and the dominant American cultures. I may or may not have time to delve into the blogs, but I'm grateful to know of them, and if I'm able to spend some time with them I expect that they will be excellent resources.

Y'all are brilliant!
posted by McBearclaw at 8:17 PM on September 3, 2008

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