Amir Hussain, "Muslims and the Making of America" (Baylor UP, 2016)


Muslims and the Making of America (Baylor University Press, 2016) offers a succinct and gripping account of Muslim presence in the United States. The book gives attention to the contemporary moment and also reaches as far back as the days of Columbus, who commissioned an Arabic translator for his potential encounters with Muslims in the New World. The book is meticulously researched and rife with concrete examples, but at just over 130 pages, Amir Hussain's emphasis on brevity is clear, and this operates as a key strength of the text. Hussain looks not to present a comprehensive overview of Islam and Muslims in the US but instead guides the reader on a rich journey through some of the most significant ways that Muslims have contributed to the fabric of the United States. He focuses on political history, music, and sports, in order to convey that although Muslims have never made up more than a few percent of the US population, their presence has proven foundational and visible at every step of the nations development. From enslaved Africans, to convert Alexander Webb, to Muhammad Ali and beyond, Hussain demonstrates that despite popular perceptions, Islam was never foreign to the United States. As the mature work of a senior scholar, this monograph shares a personal tone, through a variety of on-point anecdotes and reflections on belonging, from an American Muslim born in Canada, with South Asian roots. Given the user-friendly and timely nature of the publication, Hussain's book should interest students in a variety of college courses, academics looking for an accessible portrait of Islam and Muslims in the US, and also lay readers seeking to equip themselves against the barrage of misinformation perpetuated by influential politicians and main stream media outlets.
Elliott Bazzano is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Le Moyne College. His research and teaching interests include theory and methodology in the study of religion, Islamic studies, Quranic studies, mysticism, religion and media, and religion and drugs. His academic publications are available here. He can be reached at ( Listener feedback is most welcome.

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