Staff Pick

The aim of Garry Wills’s powerful little book, What the Qur’an Meant (Viking, $25), is to teach readers about the real Islam as it is laid out in the Qur’an. “Living with fear is corrosive,” Wills writes. “Ignorance is the natural ally of fear.” He finds beautiful parallels between various canonical writings, as well as some poignant differences.  Many Hebrew prophets appear in the Qur’an, with Abraham figuring prominently as the rebuilder of the Kah-bah shrine in Mecca.  In the Qur’an, Adam and Eve are both tempted together. But Eve is unnamed, as are all other women, with one exception: Mary, the mother of Jesus. The Qur’an considers Moses and Jesus to be the two most important prophets prior to Muhammad, who stresses peace between the three faiths as well as obedience to one God.  It is Allah who works through all of them. Conversely, Jihad is found nowhere in the Qur’an and the word Shariah appears only once, in reference to Muhammad following Allah’s path. This is a scholarly but thoroughly absorbing book which will make an unusual gift for anyone seeking new ways to revive their faith over the holiday season.

What the Qur'an Meant: And Why It Matters Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781101981023
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Viking - October 3rd, 2017

In this ambitious and eminently readable book, Aidi magnifies the intersections between Islam, music and youth social activism. Hip hop, Samba, Reggae, Gnawa and Sufi Rock all have their turn as Aidi jettisons the tired doomsday narrative associated with Muslim youth and focuses instead on how music embodies their struggles to gain footholds in increasingly ambivalent or hostile societies. Aidi takes us to locales as diverse as Brazil, France, Morocco and the US for a look at the role of Muslims in uprisings and social justice movements, the interaction between oppressed communities and Islam, and how contemporary Muslims remold an array of musical genres into their own distinct tools of liberation.

Rebel Music: Race, Empire, and the New Muslim Youth Culture Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780307279972
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - December 2nd, 2014

The culture that Hisham Aidi covers in Rebel Music extends far beyond the Muslim youth culture of the subtitle, taking a vast canvas to tell a truly global story. He has created a thrilling and sympathetic entreaty to revise talk of “clash of civilizations” to allow for the endless ways that Islam has infused American and European life for centuries and how American and European life, from musical genres to race politics, is now infiltrating Islam in turn. By showing the ways hip-hop, jazz, Sufism, Andalusian history, and Brazilian pride can unite and inspire disparate populations, while also helping authorities influence and police the same groups, Aidi exudes hope without succumbing to blind utopianism. It’s a unique and invaluable history.

Rebel Music: Race, Empire, and the New Muslim Youth Culture Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780307279972
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - December 2nd, 2014