HOW TO BE A MUSLIM by Haroon Moghul


An American Story
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The troubled tale of one man’s search for faith and happiness.

A self-described “professional Muslim,” Moghul shares his life story, as a Muslim navigating his faith and a man struggling with mental illness, in painstaking detail. Plagued by health issues during his childhood, the author went on to an adolescence filled with intense angst. Both defined and confined by his religion, Moghul eventually found himself an atheist, of sorts. “I chose not to believe in God,” he explains, “because, with Him out of the way, there was at last room for me.” Circumstances changed, in a way, once he moved away from home and began his studies at New York University. Islam then became a common bond for community and a cause for which the author could work. He helped create a student Islamic center and was heading it up when the 9/11 attacks occurred, thrusting him into the world of media as a voice for Islam. Nevertheless, he was still detached from Islam as a personal faith and suffering from mental illness. A diagnosis of bipolar disorder, near-suicide attempts, a failed marriage, a failed run at law school, and a troubled career as a spokesman for Islam make up the remainder of the book. Moghul’s work is certainly an intriguing case study in psychology. As for his tie to Islam, that is in fact just one piece of the puzzle, and the author’s self-loathing permeates his life story, which becomes almost a caricature of faith-related guilt. “I felt existentially nauseated,” he writes near the end. Despite some almost inevitable insights into life as an American Muslim, this memoir is, above all, a work of catharsis. Readers play the part of therapist, listening to Moghul’s tortured story, which never finds a true resolution.

Studded with some useful observation but fails to properly address the title.

Pub Date: June 6th, 2017
ISBN: 978-0-8070-2074-6
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: Beacon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2017


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