City of Brass

City of Brass


Willow on American Islam

posted by Aziz Poonawalla

My friend (and accomplished writer) G. Willow Wilson spent several years living in Cairo after converting to Islam. In her Journal at Talk Islam she relates her observations about the differences in how Islam is lived in breathed in Cairo versus in the convert community in Seattle where she presently resides. It’s a great piece about identity, which is pretty much the central tension in any muslim-American’s life. Here’s a teaser excerpt:

In Egypt Islam is like a natural extension of the body. It permeates
and is permeated by everyday life. People may be dishonest, angry,
ugly, crude, vicious, but all these things are artificial, like the
industrial waste spewed into the Nile and the sky until it warps babies
in the womb. They are all the result of a society squeezed until it
broke and bled. When God enters a conversation, the ugliness vanishes,
and the disgusting sinner who leers at girls on the subway becomes a
poet. The absurdity of that-the horror of it; the wonder of it; the
capacity of the divine to wheedle Its way into the grotesque-shaped my
relationship with God. For good or ill. I never lost sight of the fact
that when I prayed, it was not only to Al Rahman, but to Al Khafid. The
Debaser. I could look at His terrible Names without flinching or
rationalizing. He created beauty and filth side by side, like a hammer
and an anvil, and it is for us to break or bend.

That was Cairo.

When I came back to my own country, I had a naive idea that I could
go on being an American and a Muslim, and avoid learning to be an
American Muslim. That lasted about six months. What miserable and
laughable months.

You simply have to read the whole thing.

Related – my review of Mullahs on the Mainframe, an ethnography about my own community and how we have adapted the demands of tradition with the realities of modernity. Again, it boils down to identity, and reconciliation.



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment suleiman

    when I clicked on the “read the whole thing” link, it said the account was deleted.

    Could you please repost the entire essay here?

Previous Posts

je ne suis pas Charlie #IamNotCharlie
I fully support the right, and I also deeply appreciate the sentiment, of the cartoonist Luz, who is one of the survivors of the despicable attack on the office of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo that was attacked by Al Qaeda last week. Here is Luz's (translated) statement in full: I invoked all

posted 8:56:46am Jan. 14, 2015 | read full post »

Merry Milad and Happy New Year
This year, Milad al Nabi is closer to the New

posted 12:25:41am Jan. 04, 2015 | read full post »

Have a very Muslim Merry Christmas
And We sent, following in their footsteps, Jesus, the son of Mary, confirming that which came before him in the Torah; and We gave him the Gospel, in which was guidance and light and confirming that which preceded it of the Torah as guidance and instruction for the righteous. -- Qur'an 5:46 And t

posted 11:46:49am Dec. 24, 2014 | read full post »

Vote now in the (delayed slightly) Brass Crescent Awards!
Voting in this year's Brass Crescent Awards is now underway, after a few months' delay. Here's the explanation from the official site: We would like to sincerely apologize for the delay in this year's voting. The reason for the delay was that we did not have sufficient blogsphere nominations as w

posted 10:30:42pm Dec. 18, 2014 | read full post »

Midamar halal beef - charged with fraud
This is disturbing news - the company Midamar, well known for its halal meat products, has been charged with fraud for falsely advertising its beef as halal to Muslims: The indictment said the companies told customers its cattle were slaughtered by hand by specially trained Muslim slaughtermen w

posted 10:45:40pm Dec. 15, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.