Schmidt, Garbi. Islam in Urban America: Sunni Muslims in Chicago.

PositionBook Review

Schmidt, Garbi. Islam in Urban America: Sunni Muslims in Chicago. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 2004. Paper $22.95.

The book poses two questions: Can Islam in America be considered an "American" religion? Is the Muslim community monolithic? In an attempt to answer them, Schmidt focuses on the study of Sunni Muslim institutions in Chicago. Muslim weekend schools, Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), Muslim full-time schools, the Muslim Student Association, mosques, and para-mosques (grassroots organizations that supplement mosques and other Muslim organizations) are the main institutions that Schmidt observed in her study. The author treats these institutions as sites where individual Muslims construct their own identity.

The picture that emerges is one that clearly demonstrates the diversity in the American Muslim community. There are African American Muslims as well as Muslims who immigrated to the U.S. and who constitute different ethnic groups. It is not easy, if at all possible, to transcend ethnicity, nationality or even race all the time in the quest for Muslim unification. Within Sunni Islam there are divisions as well. Sufis think of themselves as Sunni Muslims; yet other Sunnis think of them as heretics. There are also divisions between those who interpret the Qur'an literally and those who are more liberal in its interpretation. South Asians, Arabs, Bosnians and other national or ethnic groups dominate different...

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