One of the reasons I am a muslim is because I love the Prophet Muhammad (saws). When I picked up my first biography of the Prophet (saws), I felt an instant attachment to this man. His life is full of poweful examples of how a good person should live, full of compassion, mercy and justice. Tariq Ramadan's new book In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad highlights these moments in the Prophet's life. inshaAllah non muslims will pick up this book, as opposed to say, ones by islamophobes, and will be introduced to this fantastic man and to Islam.
Freelance monotheist and scholar Karen Armstrong is out with another book about the Prophet (saws), that I think I blogged about earlier.
In addition to these books about the Prophet (saws), American Muslims are getting some literary attention as well.
Dr. Umar Abd-Allah of the Nawawi foundation has written a book about the Life of Alexander Webb, an convert to Islam in Victorian America. From the description, it seems that Webb's life can provide insight into the formation of an American Muslim identity:
In every aspect of his life except his adopted faith, Abd-Allah shows, Webb was quintessentially a man of his place and time. It was because he was so typically American that he was able to serve as Islams ambassador to America (and vice versa). As Americas Muslim community grows and becomes more visible, Webbs lifeand the virtues he championed pluralism, liberalism, universal humanity, and a sense of civic and political responsibility exemplify what it means to be an American Muslim.
The Amazon reviews of Mecca and Mainstreet: Muslim Life in America after 9/11 are mixed, but I'd still like to look through it.
NPR did a book review that I'll be listening to soon inshaAllah.
American Islam: The Struggle for the Soul of a Religion was on display in the new book section of Barnes and Noble. It has chapters on the Imam (Siraj Wahhaj,), the Publisher (Osama Siblani), the Scholar (Khaled Abou El Fadl) and the Femenist (urg) among others. Since I haven't read the book yet, I wonder how much it goes into the diversity within each of these categories. Khaled Abou El Fadl is vastly different from Sheikh Hamza Yusuf, and yet both are American Muslims scholars. There are hundreds of muslim femenists out there, as demonstrated by the WISE conference held last year. Why did Mr. Barrnet chose Asra Nomani? Hmmm...
Which leads me on another tangent. My husband and I were talking the other day about what we would do if we had an unending source of income. One of the things that I'd like to do is go back to school, either to study law or to get a masters. If I get a masters, I'm thinking I'd like to study Muslims in America. I wrote a paper on the development of Muslim participation in American politics for an undergrad course. I really enjoyed the research, and I spend plenty of time ruminating on the development of a distinct american muslim culture and identity. Now, if only I didn't hate actually writing papers so much. Bah.