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The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman's Journey to Love and Islam quotes The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman's Journey to Love and Islam, litcharts The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman's Journey to Love and Islam, symbolism The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman's Journey to Love and Islam, summary shmoop The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman's Journey to Love and Islam, The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman's Journey to Love and Islam 24f4e290 The Extraordinary Story Of A Young North American S Conversion To Islam And Her Ensuing Romance With An Egyptian Man, The Butterfly Mosque Is A Stunning Articulation Of A Westerner Embracing The Muslim World After Graduating From University, Willow Wilson, A Young American And Newly Converted Muslim Impulsively Accepts A Teaching Position In Cairo There, She Meets Omar, A Passionate Young Nationalist With A Degree In Astrophysics Omar Introduces Willow To The Bustling City, And Through Him She Discovers A Young, Moderate Nationalist Movement, A Movement That Both Wants To Divest Itself Of Western Influence And Regain Cultural Pride When The Two Find Themselves Unexpectedly In Love, Despite Their Deep Cultural Differences, They Decide That They Will Try To Forge A Third Culture, A New Landscape That Will Embrace Some Of Each Of Their Cultures, And Give Their Fledgling Romance Some Hope Of Survival Wilson Weaves This Engaging Personal Story With Deep Insights Into Faith In A Fractured World, And Gives Westerners Rare Insight Into An Important Young Reform Movement Butterfly Mosque Is An Inspiring Account Of An Unlikely Cross Cultural Love, And The Moving Story Of Two Young People Working Within The Boundaries Of Contemporary Religion And Culture To Forge A Life Together Against The Odds

10 thoughts on “The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman's Journey to Love and Islam

  1. says:

    Despite what the subtitle of this book might suggest, this isn t a frothy little white girl has epiphany away from home piece Instead it s a wonderful, complicated, thoughtful exploration of Islam, politics, family, and belonging Wilson became interested in Islam while in college in the United States, finding that it provided the best explanation for things she already felt and believed but for which she had no name During a year spent in Egypt to teach English, she personally and formally converted the two are quite different things, the former being an act of faith, the second an act directed by the Egyptian bureaucracy and she met, and fell in love with, a Muslim man whom she married an act that again occurred than once according to the dictates of faith, culture, and state Wilson is adept at describing what she finds fulfilling about Islam, and particularly good at unpacking the meaning of prayer and ritual as means of submitting to something greater than the self She s also an astute witness to her own liminal existence, an American Muslim in an Arab place, joined by religion to those around her, set apart by the danger she represents to others because of the Egyptian police force s interest in her life, and by American military and diplomatic policies in the Middle East the latter of which are not really diplomatic in any meaningful sense of the word She tries to write about her experiences and publish them in the US feels beholden to try and explain her corner of the Arab world, her family, her neighbors, and her adopted culture to Americans who seem hostile to learning about concepts they would rather demonize, but finds her efforts frustrated not only by people in political and religious opposition to her, but American Muslims too One of the most compelling parts of the book is the unfolding tale of how Wilson and her family and friends end up under surveillance and even detained by the FBI because of her adopted faith and country As Wilson so deftly and ably describes, the actions that many people in the United States decry in other areas of the world are exactly the same actions they adopt out of fear of some Other they will not try to understand Wilson offers no easy answers her life is a daily tightrope walk between the culture of her birth and the culture of her adopted homeland, with Islam as a place of safety, support, and refuge, but also a place of contradiction and confusion A truly excellent, thought provoking book.

  2. says:

    If you re a Christian and still think all Muslims are secretly terrorists and the true Islam promotes terrorism, this is probably a book you should read As an American convert to Islam, she has some good perspective and insights.Again as with Jehan Sadat , raised an atheist Sadat being Muslim of course , I don t think she has a good grasp of Christianity when she talks about it She contrasts Islam with Calvinism and Catholicsm and lists a bunch of things I as a Christian don t believe in either hierarchy, original sin, etc.All in all, a great read I was disappointed when it ended just before her return to America for an extended period after a year or in Egypt with her conversion, marriage, near assimilation all happening in that time Maybe it s not been long enough since the events occurred, but I was wanting to know how her experience in America was after her living in Egypt and trying so hard to fit in there What stuck out to her Did she prefer one place after all or was she torn Did Americans seem coarse and overbearing Did she easily slip back into a Muslim version of her American self or stay Arab as she had become So many things Maybe there will be another book.

  3. says:

    Growing up in a Christian home, I have read many Christian conversion stories in my lifetime This was refreshing on many levels, but I think the part that was most compelling was reading how G Willow was drawn to converting to Islam after being raised an atheist At the same time she is converting to a new culture, since she moved to Egypt after college and ended up marrying an Egyptian That is a lot of change in a short time, and her insights into the culture of Egyptian Muslims, the intricate differences between types of Muslim practice including a section about the veil that I think everyone should read , and how she fits inside of these things as a modern, western raised, academic woman these are all well worth reading.I was lucky because I read this as part of the first ever ACRL community read She was also one of the keynote speakers at the conference, and attended our book club meeting where we discussed the book even further While I know some were disappointed this book ended with her marriage, she made it clear that it was incredibly hard to write at such length about herself and has no plans to ever do it again In her speech she also talked about GamerGate and writing people of difference, and how important it is Read this, but also read Alif the Unseen and Ms Marvel, Vol 1 No Normal.

  4. says:

    I appreciated learning about Islam and Egyptian culture, which was my primary reason for wanting to read this widely hailed memoir I must say, though, I felt that the author skims the surface of some very important, complex issues I often found myself thinking, But, wait what about Aspects of Cairo s societal environment are frustratingly glossed over, such as how women are routinely harassed by men in the streets and frequently groped and molested during political protests She barely dips a toe into the deep ocean of gender tensions and why this might be Also, she comes across as patronizing and condescending at times, as when she s explaining her new religion to her American friends Her female friend asks a legitimate, respectful question, and the author begins her reply with something like Why do you think It just felt a bit holier than thou to me at times Lastly, she ends the book just when I was finally starting to get into it, at the worst possible time She and her Egyptian husband are about to depart for America to live there for some time, and it just ends before their trip What a major loss and exclusion The inclusion of that element would have rounded out her and her husband s experience together as a newly married couple So, even though I appreciated learning things about a foreign culture and religion, I didn t care much for this book as a memoir Although a memoir s nature is in part rooted in bias, it ultimately annoyed and exasperated me.

  5. says:

    This book resonated a lot with me It tells the story of an American upper middle class woman that recently graduated undergrad w a history degree from Boston U She decides to move to Egypt to work at an English school there She converts to Islam, learns Arabic, falls in love with an Egyptian man, eventually marries him, and becomes part of Egyptian culture.As the author discusses her first interests in Islam and the process where she learned about it, partially thru her liberal arts education, I felt myself agreeing from where she was coming from At first she was totally clueless, unsure between the difference of Arab Muslim, vaguely knowing of Sunni Shi a as 2 different Islam sects She started taking classes in Islam Arabic literature She grew up in an atheist household, and it was difficult at first for her to embrace religion at all What I found fascinating was how she decided upon Islam She knew that she wanted a religion with one God, where there was no human representative of God on Earth, where the religion believed in sexual freedom, not repression upon marriage She was also fascinated upon studying the Quran hadith how open the religion is regarding gender freedom of movement The limitations put on these for women is cultural, not implied in Islamic religious texts.The author found herself facing stereotypes and fears that she didn t realize she had She secretly had an implicit fear that once she married her Egyptian husband, she would become basically a domestic slave, losing her rights as a free woman, and that her husband would change his actions towards her and become violent her stereotype of an Arab, Muslim man.Through her experiences she realized that although Islam in Egypt is far from perfect, with its share of fundamentalists that twist the Quran, and inequality for women, she found hope peace through her faith her life in Egypt For me, because it was written by an American woman who grew up in circumstances not that different from my own, it made her account very relatable and gave insight towards Arab Muslim life because of her comparisons between that and her life growing up in the U.S., so than an Arab Islamic scholar would have.

  6. says:

    A highly thought provoking book Wilson does a magnificent job of using her own life as a way of presenting a very nuanced picture of Islam and life in the Middle East The Boston Globe recently ran an article about her, and, reading the book, I was reminded of the comments left by readers, exposing a lot of fear and bigotry while accusing Wilson of simple minded naivete Her writing, however, shows her to be both wise and level headed.If I had any complaints, it would be that she tends to rush through the development of her relationship with her husband I know the book is about her, but it would have been nice to get a better sense of Omar and what drew them together Additionally, some of the dialogue feels a bit stilted and artificial, but that is perhaps to be expected as it is primarily included as a means of delivering exposition rather than as an authentic account of actual conversations.The sad truth is that I know almost next to nothing about Islam or life in a Muslim society I m still left with many questions, but that is no fault of this book, which gives a clear eyed view of the world hidden behind modern prejudice.

  7. says:

    The title promises than the book delivers It s been a while since I read the book, but I remember being disappointed by how little she discusses about her conversion to and love for Islam This is mostly about her experiences living in another culture Even the love story seems dispassionate, as if she is merely recounting facts I ended up with the feeling that there was far to the story.This isn t to say that the book isn t worth reading The author offers valuable insights into what it s like to be thrust into another culture She does write about Islam and her conversion perhaps it was just not to the degree that I wanted her to I was a recent convert at the time that I read it and I was looking for commonalities as well as suggestions as to how to adapt Since this book is mainly about life in a Muslim country, I didn t really get any practical advice about how to be a Muslim convert in America As long as you know that going in, the book will be enjoyable.

  8. says:

    The operative word in the title is probably young.

  9. says:

    I loved this book, as of course anyone could guess I would I don t know why it took me so long to read it maybe because I knew I would find a lot to relate to in it conversion to Islam, falling in love with, marrying, then eventually bringing to America a nice North African man, etc It was nice to read the experiences of someone who has been through so many of the same things that I have but who writes a hell of a lot better , but on another level, it was painful to read my way through some of those things again One of the things I really like about this book which some of the non Muslim reviewers here seemed to find annoying is that the author really offered no in depth explanation for her conversion to Islam One of the hardest things about talking to people about Islam, as a convert, is that you constantly get asked by both Muslims and non Muslims this question why It s not a question that it s even possible to give a satisfying answer to Religious experience is a deeply personal thing, and trying to explain it to others in quantifiable terms even to those who share your faith is a frustrating and usually pointless endeavor I love that G Willow Wilson has the confidence to say that this is what she felt and wanted and believed and so it is what she did, and that is that.

  10. says:

    I m always suspicious when someone calls a book indispensable No book cannot be lived without People do it all the time But to the extent that books can be indispensable, The Butterfly Mosque is indispensable Especially to Americans and other Westerners Especially now, when fair and decent people of all and no faiths have a moral imperative to do everything possible to head off the epic clash of civilizations that so many people on both sides of the divide seem determined to push us all into We have to find ways to understand each other better The Butterfly Mosque is a good place to start.G Willow Wilson, whose urban fantasy novel Alif, the Unseen is perhaps the best book of that genre I have ever read, writes her own story here, and it is, well, indispensable After growing up in a thoroughly secular, atheist home and graduating from Boston University, Wilson found herself unable to accept the non religion of her parents, setting her on a spiritual quest that eventually led to her pronouncing the shahadah before God and nobody else and becoming a Muslim, immediately after which she moves to Egypt to teach English and study her new religion from the inside.This part of the book is wonderful, I thought, because it shows is how a very intellectual young person, who is also a complete religious free agent, approaches the free market of religious ideas Without any cultural predisposition towards Christianity, she evaluates its claims on the same ground as those of Buddhism, Judiasm, Islam, and other major religions Framed this way, she finds the Christian God too small for the God she envisions Ideas like the Virgin Birth, and the embodiment of God as Christ, when viewed without any cultural predisposition towards them, do place God much closer to human beings than Islam does And the idea of original sin seems fundamentally unfair It is not at all obvious to me that somebody looking without any cultural or religious preconceptions would choose this view of God over others.And I understand both the intellectual power of the Islamic view of God and the tremendous rhetorical power, and beauty, of the Quran I have experienced both in my own studies though I began from a starting place that never allowed me the kind of unfiltered religious choice that Wilson had The way that she describes her initial attraction to Islam, as an abstract philosophy and set of beliefs is very attractive More to the point, though, it makes it clear that her first conversion was to a set of ideas a set of ideas with real beauty and power and poetry that Americans have almost no understanding of And we should.The second conversion in the story is much difficult, because it involves real people and real cultures, both of which always mess up what is best in religious ideas Wilson goes to Egypt and keeps her conversion secret, never attending Friday prayers, never going to mosques, and never acting on her faith publicly until she meets and falls in love with Omar, a liberal Egyptian and a Sufi Muslim who speaks English fluently and acts as her guide when she first arrives In time and this is much of the story they become engaged, and then married, and she finds herself absorbed into the fabric of an Egyptian extended family and spaces where very few Westerners are ever allowed.In the process of telling the story, Wilson is very careful not to horribalize or romanticize her new culture It is, like all human cultures, a complicated affair And than anything else, it is different in fundamental ways from American culture Some of the differences are religious, but many of them are not There are different values and priorities that are troubling, comforting, oppressive, liberating, difficult, and beautiful all at once Just like her home culture Just like everyone s.But one thing that comes through very clearly throughout the narrative is that Islamic fundamentalism is much of a threat to the kind of Islam she converted to and to the Islam practiced by hundreds of millions of people in the world than it is to anybody in the West She rightly calls out Western journalists for not covering the many, many Muslim clerics who have issued fatwahs against terrorism, and the difficult work the moderate opposition does to hold back the tide of Islamic extremism 243 Rampant Islamophobia and outrageous caricatures in the West play directly into the hands of the extremists by helping to convince Muslims to side with them against direct attacks on their shared culture We are doing everything that we can do to lose the war of ideas.And then we have G Willow Wilson a talented writer, journalist, and novelist who has converted to Islam and seen elements of Muslim and Arabic culture that very few Westerners ever will and who can describe that culture to us in terms that we can understand, using prose that is both exquisite and clear She can talk about the differences between both cultures without criticizing either fully aware of both the beauty and poetry of both worlds That is the sort of thing that we should all consider a genuine service.And it is the sort of thing that we should all be listening to which is what I mean by indispensable.

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