A Muslim Cleric on the Power of His Faith, the Struggle Against Prejudice, and the Future of Islam and Americ
By Hassan Qazwini
(Random House, Hardcover, 9781400064540, 304pp.)
Publication Date: October 9, 2007
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In this inspiring narrative, one of this country’s most important Muslim leaders reveals the story of his life and his faith, and why Islam is good for America. As the religious leader of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan, Imam Hassan Qazwini serves the largest Muslim congregation in the United States. His dramatic journey to these shores began in 1971, when his father’s anti-Baathist views forced his family to flee from Saddam’s Iraq to Kuwait and then to war-torn Iran. Then, in 1992, with his father’s blessing, he left for the United States, a place where young Muslims were seeking spiritual guidance and where his children could grow up in the peace Qazwini had been denied.
First in California and then in Michigan, Qazwini saw a shocking new world in which leaders were openly mocked, women’s bodies were on display in public, and Christian symbols were disparaged without consequence. He also saw a land in which the lack of a common faith necessitated a great effort to create a shared community. By counseling American Muslims–and sharing his religion with those of other beliefs–he came to feel at home in the country he already loved, and he became a trusted advisor to local and national politicians.
Then, after 9/11, Osama bin Laden gave him “a new full-time job.”
American Crescent vividly describes Qazwini’s efforts to show Americans how those who destroyed the World Trade Center had hijacked Islam as well, and that most Muslims were appalled by their actions. Yet he also takes the Bush administration to task for championing the prejudicial Patriot Act (after Muslims supported George W. Bush in the 2000 election) and deplores its conduct in the Iraq War.
Throughout American Crescent, Qazwini offers a revelatory look at the tenets and history of Islam, defending it as a faith of peace and diversity, and challenging stereotypes and misconceptions promulgated by the media. Iran, he points out, has a higher percentage of women in its parliament than the United States does in both houses of Congress. “If you want to learn about Islam,” he writes, “turn off the TV.”
At once a fascinating personal story and a heartfelt plea to integrate Islamic teachings into the tolerant traditions of America, this book is an important contribution to our understanding of all those who live among us, at a time when it matters most.
Imam Hassan Qazwini is descended from seven generations of prestigious Islamic scholars. He was born in Karbala, Iraq, in 1964 and moved to the United States in 1992. He serves as the spiritual leader of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan, regularly meets with presidents and other politicians, and has appeared on CNN, NPR, and the BBC and in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Christian Science Monitor, the Detroit Free Press, The Detroit News, and a wide range of other media outlets.
Brad Crawford, the co-author of American Crescent, is the author of Compass American Guides: Ohio and the co-author of My Sister Is Missing: Bringing a Killer to Justice. A graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, he freelances full-time from Cincinnati, Ohio. His website is www.bradcrawford.net.