There is a new book out by an Atlanta-area Muslim attorney by the name of Melody Moezzi titled “War on Error: Real Stories of American-Muslims”.The book is an attempt by Moezzi to give another vision of the lives of young American-Muslims to the public in order to say “look, we are not evil, and we have all the complexities and diversities everyone else has” in order to combat the stereotype that all Muslims are terrorists or extreme in nature.The effort to give non-Muslims a more accurate portrayal of who Muslims are is noble and to a certain extent Moezzi does this in some of her profiles; but at the end of the day as an American-Muslim I am offended by the manner in which Muslims are portrayed in this work ( aside from the good intent I am sure Moezzi had, I am sure).
With her tales of Muslim lesbians, people with Muslim names who do not believe or practice, rootless and shifty Muslim yuppies, Muslim body builders, she is not lying because it is true that all of these elements exist in significant numbers in the Muslim community and there story is valid. What I am offended by is her implying that these groups represent either a majority of young Muslims in America or that these are the good Muslims who are acceptable as opposed to the bad Muslims who do things such as pray, fast and observe the basic tenets of Islam and generally have a Third World mentality.
That is why this book is pointless in my mind. Muslims already know that if you completely assimilate into non-Muslim society and take the values of secular humanism as your own you will be accepted, that is no big surprise. If you are a Muslim male who is an effete latte sipper carrying a man bag in Manhattan on the way to the art gallery you will be accepted by that crowd because you have accepted their values as your own and given them supremacy over the values of Islam. The same can be said to any other number of Muslims who assimilate into different segments of American society. It is a given, it is a known, that if you leave your deen, or at least have a very loose commitment to it, you can gain acceptance into mainstream American society by most people ( outside of the Ann Coulter, Robert Spencer, Joe Kauffman crowd).
What I am more interested in knowing is if America is ready to accept Muslims who are observing the sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) in their lives? If this society is as diverse and open as it proclaims to be then one should not have to act and believe like everyone else in order to be accepted. Therefore, it is of a greater interest to me to find out how an average hijabi gets along in her daily life then how a Muslim raver gets along with her fellow druggies.
There is also the issue of class. This book paints profiles of Muslims who have grown up in affluence and have been detached from traditional Islam and traditional American culture and our surrounding themselves with secular globos for the most part. There are a lot of other tales out there that are just as prevalent such as the children of Arab store owners in black ghettos in America, refugee Muslims in urban environments coming of age, second and third generation African-American Muslims ( after all Moezzi lives in the “Black Mecca”), and Muslim converts from any kind of a background you can imagine.
In short, this sister did the book she can do, because those are the circles she moves in, and she gives an accurate portrayal of that element of the community; but in the long run she leaves many questions unanswered and many tales untold.