cover image Journey Into America: The Challenge of Islam

Journey Into America: The Challenge of Islam

Akbar Ahmed, Brookings Institution, $29.95 (520p) ISBN 9780815703877

Ahmed, a professor of Islamic Studies at American University and a well-respected scholar of Islam, endeavors in this exhaustively-researched text to examine what it means to be Muslim in modern America, post-9/11. In an effort to reach a meaningful analysis, Ahmed interviews a wide variety of people about what it means to be American. Questions such as "What is the sum of American identity?" and "What do the Founding Fathers mean to you?" would themselves constitute a lengthy book independent of Islam's role in the nation, but taken through this lens, they provide some eye-opening answers. Ahmed contends that America needs to rediscover the intentions of the Founding Fathers, but his many interviews illustrate a problem: no one is entirely certain of the right interpretation of their intentions. Ahmed's research is superb, but his questions are often leading and can create a sense of meandering confusion. However, readers unfamiliar with Islam will walk away with a much firmer grasp of its nuances, and everyone will likely learn a great deal about American self-perception. (July)