American Jihad is the only popular book available about the religious experience of Muslims, both black and white, in America. With over one billion faithful worldwide, and over six rnillion in the United States alone, Islam is the world's fastest-growing religion. In fact, the population of American Muslims surpasses the membership of many mainline Protestant denominations. However, the media's depiction of Muslims in America often stops short of any real examination and opts instead to cover only the sensational, puzzling charisma of Louis Farrakhan, who leads the Nation of Islam, or the violence of some of the more extremist Muslims. American Jihad dispels these prominent but dangerously deceptive stereotypes and is the first book to take a serious and inclusive approach to exploring how the Muslim faith is embraced and practiced in America. Like many African-Americans of his generation, author Steven Barboza was affected profoundly by Malcolm X and converted from Catholicism after reading the Autobiography. In American Jihad, he features a myriad of faithful Muslims who come from many different walks of life from a foreign policy advisor of Richard M. Nixon's, to a blond Sufi, to an AIDS activist, and so on. In American Jihad, you'll hear from some of the most famous American Muslims after Malcolm X, including Louis Farrakhan, Kareem Abdul Jabar, Attallah Shabazz (Malcolm X's daughter), and the former H. Rap Brown. In American Jihad, Steven Barboza does for Islam what Studs Terkel has recently done for race relations.
Barboza, a black American journalist who converted to orthodox Islam after being inspired by Malcolm X, taps the rich diversity of the American Islamic experience in this collection of more than 50 brief interviews. While the interviews are not too deep, they do correct certain tabloid stereotypes of this rapidly growing religion. Some interviewees are famous: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar talks about how his conversion gave him credibility but not marketability, while Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin (the former H. Rap Brown) observes how Islam has enabled him to control his anger. A section on the separatist Nation of Islam fills out interesting history, but an interview with Louis Farrakhan doesn't challenge his inflammatory statements. Talking about prayer, family and pilgrimage, others interviewed remain intriguing: a McDonald's manager discusses how the company adapts to Islamic countries; a female college student recounts fighting sexism from fellow South Asians; a Muslim Marine tells of battling prejudice in the military. Photos not seen by PW.