A reasoned yet impassioned argument for religious liberty for all.
Religious liberty attorney Uddin works from the concern that many Americans do not consider Islam to be a religion worthy of normal liberties or, worse, not a religion at all but an ideology or radical movement. Her overarching argument is that in treating Islam differently from other religions, the courts endanger religious rights for all Americans. While acknowledging that radicals in other nations have adversely affected the opinions of many Americans against Muslims, the author counters with various statistics that most American Muslims are not only law-abiding citizens, but also patriotic and increasingly progressive in their worldviews. Despite this, they continue to be targets of bullying, hostility, and organized opposition. From slurs and attacks on the street to broad-based movements to stop the construction of mosques and other Islamic centers, Muslims, and their liberties, are at constant risk. In dedicated chapters, Uddin tackles such particular issues as Sharia and the use of hijab, and she decries anti-Sharia legislation as adding “no value” to the legal system because they misinterpret Sharia. “Even in states where Muslims want a sharia-based legal code,” writes the author, “what they are asking for is not beheadings and amputations, but justice and fairness.” Similarly, she defends the hijab as a form of self-expression and not a symbol of oppression against women. Throughout, Uddin points to political conservatives as the enemies of American Islam and, unwittingly, as the potential undoing of all religious liberties. Nevertheless, she does not spare from criticism progressive voices who, while defending Muslims, actually hope to reform and Westernize the religion and see it as peopled by “good” or “bad” Muslims. The author laces her work with personal stories of growing up and living as a Muslim in America, explaining it as a source of empowerment despite the prevalence of bigotry and suspicion from fellow citizens.
An intriguing and heartfelt read.