Beberapa hari ini, perhatian saya benar-benar terkuras membaca buku yang sangat menarik ini. Berikut resensi saya untuk Goodreads:

Written as an account of an anthropological excursion into Muslim communities in the United States, this book makes a clear and useful connection between the study of Islam in America and the reality of American identity (actually identities). The book opens with the author’s identification of the three American identities, which, according to the author’s interpretation, started with the Plymouth Rock: primordial identity, pluralist identity, and predator identity. Throughout the book, the author presents the results of his cross-country excursion into Muslim and non-Muslim communities in the United States with the help of a couple of research assistants.

Guided by the three American identities mentioned earlier, the author narrates and analyzes the views of Americans both Muslims and non-Muslims as well with regards to identity, the role of Plymouth Rock, and the position of Muslims in the United States. With rigorous anthropological research methodology, which include in-depth interviews and questionnaires, involving over 1000 subjects, the author claims that the study that he and his team have conducted is bigger and promises to give a better picture of the subject at hands compared to surveys conducted by the likes of Gallup Poll and Pew Research Center.

In my opinion, this book is a must-read text for those interested in studying contemporary America and especially those interested in studying Islam in America. This book covers areas that have not been studied extensively, such as the relations between immigrant Muslims and the indigenous Muslims in the United States, i.e. the African American Muslims. Also, as it does an in-depth study on the Muslim identity in the United States, it keeps returning to the three models of American identities, giving the study a constant connection to the larger picture of American identity.

What might make this book different than others on the same shelf in bookstores is that this book is written by a Pakistani anthropologist who is not even an immigrant in the United States. However, as a frequent visiting scholar in the United States and a scholar who has spent over a decade in the United Kingdom, Akbar Ahmed is not unfamiliar with the issue of Islam in the West. His earlier work was a book called A Journey into Islam, written after an excursion into the Muslim world conducted with the same team.

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