One-on-One with Noah Merrill, In Jordan
By Naazish YarKhan

Terror and persecution force refugees to flee their homelands. Of the 2 million Iraqi’s whose homes and livelihoods have been lost since the Occupation, the US accepted less than 700, during the first three years. This February, that number changed to 7000, of which 2000 will be resettled in Michigan. These Iraqi’s either have family in the US, or have worked for the Americans while in Iraq.

I am unsure whether Oman has accepted any refugees from Iraq, but a large number of new refugee families are expected here through August, says Heidi Moll Schoedel, National Director, Exodus World Service in Bloomingdale, IL. A refugee resettlement agency, Exodus World Service recruits volunteers to receive the refugee families at the airport, along with a caseworker. Still others, can create ‘Welcome to America Packs’ comprising household goods, food staples, and the like and deliver them to the family, on their first day in the United States. For those interested in a long term relationship, there is the “New Neighbor” program, to help refugee families get acclimated to life in America. We would be interested in having a list of mosques and Qurans to give incoming Muslim families, says Schoedel.

I also spoke to Noah Merrill who is in Jordan at this time, where applications for refugee resettlement are being processed by UNHCR, (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). Merrill works with US based, Middle East Cultural and Charitable Society, as director of the project's Direct Aid Initiative, and with its news and analysis website Electronic Iraq ( He is also a consultant to the American Friends Service Committee's Middle East Peace Building Program and was in Chicago on a speaking engagement, recently.

According to the UNHCR Iraqi Refugee/IDP Standing Committee Update, as of June 26, 2007, there are a total of 185,000 registered Iraqi refugees in the region. 90,000 have registered in Syria, 30,000 in Jordan, 7,600 in Egypt (11,000-12,000 are expected to register by 2007 end). A total of 200,000-300,000 Iraqi refugees are expected to have been registered by the end of 2007. 2,000 refugees have been crossing into Syria daily. UNHCR has committed to 20,000 referrals for 2007 and has thus far referred 9,441 to a range of countries including the US. “But estimates place the numbers of Iraqis seeking refuge in Jordan at more than 750,000,” says Merrill.

“Depending on the size of the family, then, it's clear that there are tens of thousands of families, many of which have been broken or divided by the suffering of violence, displacement, and legal obstacles to travel, such as men who are not granted visas, while women and children are,” says Merrill. “Or people are separated based on perceived ethnic or religious identity, for example, in cases where the husband and wife come from different sects.” The vast majority of Iraqi families have had loved ones killed or injured by the violence in Iraq. Those made refugees represent close to 1 in 10 of all Iraqis.

Only a handful of these will make their way to Chicago. “Refugee arrival numbers are always unpredictable, but we received requests for help for more than 25 families that came to the greater Chicagoland area during the month of June alone, and we expect similar arrival numbers throughout the summer,” says Heidi. “Most refugees arrive in the United States with little more than the clothes they are wearing and a few personal possessions. They face the difficult challenge of starting over in a new land. It is important that refugees are welcomed when they arrive and receive support as they adjust to their new lives in our communities.” Besides Iraqi’s, new arrivals that Exodus will handle include Burmese refugees of the Chin and Karen ethnic groups, who fled a brutal military dictatorship and Burundian refugees, who have been housed in remote refugee camps for more than thirty years.

“Applicants for refugee status must pass through a complex series of interviews and documentation sessions describing the suffering they experienced and are required to provide whatever proof of persecution they can. If approved by UNHCR, they then must be approved by the country that would accept them for resettlement. “Often this means passing extreme security screenings, as well,” says Merrill. “One family, who are very good friends of mine here, have been waiting for six years to be resettled.”

While these families wait, never knowing if they will be selected for resettlement in another country, the situation in Jordan remains one of frustration, hopelessness, fear, and despair. “While for many the conditions here are of course better than what they fled in Iraq, they have few rights. They are barred from work, and are frequently subjected to raids and threats of deportation if they are caught working. The majority are without sufficient funds to maintain a decent standard of living, and so health problems, lack of good housing, and basic security are significant issues,” says Merrill, who has been involved in work opposing the sanctions in Iraq and then opposing the invasion.

Noah Merill and his wife, Natalie, are in Jordan, expanding on the work they did in the US. ‘I felt I needed to contribute in some small way to improving the conditions in which so many Iraqis found themselves as a result of the actions of the US government and others without the best interests of the Iraqi people at heart,” he says.

The duo make arrangements for medical care and other support for a small number of refugees they met in Jordan this Spring. “Donations to pay for this care came from Americans who want to provide some direct restitution to Iraqis who have suffered and lost so much as a result of the actions of the US government. We also hope to be able to bring the severity of the crisis and the voices of Iraqis to people in the United States through writing and advocacy while here, and on our return in mid-September,” he concludes.

The War in Iraq Etc

By Naazish YarKhan

Spring is in the air. How would I know if I were oblivious of the longer days, the warmer weather? Well, I’d know because I’d have allergies. Yes, tis’ the season for sneezing and wheezing, but I guess I take comfort in the fact that I’m not alone. Naw.. it’s not like everyone else I know is in the same boat… it’s just the multitude of commercials selling anti-allergy prescription medicines that are suddenly hitting the air waves, that tell me I am not alone.

This week hasn’t been impossible. I only have to finish up a few pages of proofreading the magazine I work for, Halal Consumer magazine, and send it to the designer. Anyone out there, who wants to advertise to Muslims in Chicago, give me a holler and I’ll send you the rates. Halal Consumer Magazine reaches 40,000 Muslim families and organizations in the US and abroad. According to Business Week,( Jan. 2007), "59% of Muslim adults in the U.S. have a college degree, compared with only 28% of all American adults. Surveys show that median family income among America's Muslims exceeds the national figure of $55,800. And four out of five eligible Muslims are registered to vote, slightly higher than the overall rate." So it’s a great audience, to market to.

This week I did get, and then lose, a contract to do some web content, leaving me feeling very dashed at the lost, potential income. Deflated hopes flitted around my head despite me telling myself that if I lost the project, I’d have more time to actually work on my novel and sell it. So this is the last time I am going to think of the loss. Split milk. No crying. After all, I do have other work, other income. And I can post my resume online, again.

Last week, wasn’t that bad either. The weekend however was choc-a-bloc. Attended a ‘Peace Rally to Bring the Troops Home from Iraq’. About 50 people were in attendance that crisp, chilly, sunny Saturday morning, as they shared information about why we need to end the war in Iraq.

I don’t know whether these rallies or these candlelight protests help. Bush’s ratings are at an all time low of 30 percent and he has nothing to lose since there’s no reelection on the horizon, so he continues to do as he pleases.

Talking of politics, Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton are already doing fundraisers for the 2008 presidential elections and their respective bids for the seat. Hillary hasn’t apologized for voting to invade Iraq when the idea was first presented to Congress, four years ago, so I won’t be voting for her next year. That aside, what kind of woman, stays with a husband given to extra-marital affairs? Monica Lewinsky made the most news, but there have always been women in former President Clinton’s life, and as much as I am impressed by his/her work ethic, I am not quite sure if I’d vote for a woman who stayed in a relationship for, what to me seems, like little more than political gain. Why wouldn’t you leave a man who constantly cheats on you? It’s not like Hillary didn’t know what Bill was up to. But then again, ask me if I would vote for Bill Clinton, and I’d say, “Yes. He makes a great president, why drag his personal life into the picture.” Go figure!

Barack Obama doesn’t have my vote for president, so far, either. I am not going to vote for someone, just because they happen to be a charismatic person of color. While President Carter is going blue in the face calling the situation in Palestine ‘Apartheid’, and while the media can’t stop hating his guts for doing that, Congressman Obama still comes out in favor of Israel ‘having the right to protect itself.’ Sure, let Israel protect itself I say, but then when the Palestinians ‘protect’ themselves, don’t call it ‘terrorism.’ I I am disappointed that Obama choose to tout the party line instead of thinking for himself. My naiveté annoys my husband. ‘He’s a democrat, representing the democratic party. Of course he’s going to spout the party line. That’s why it’s called a party line,” my husband reminds me. Well, yes. And in the end, everything is political, but I’d like a president who has the courage to stand up for the truth as well. To see things as they are. I guess the consequences are dire for doing that, when you’re a politician.

To those not in the US or not into following politics, all this talk of an election that’s going to take place in Nov. 2008, must seem so ludicrous. But really, it’s not. The main issue, is Iraq. The Democrats won both Houses of Congress in November 2006 because of Iraq. It was a mid term election with the largest turnout of voters, because of Iraq. Iraq continues to be a defining issue and hence, all this early interest in the 2008 presidential elections. On this the 4th anniversary of the Iraq War, 500,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed. Tens of thousands have escaped to Syria and Jordan. Only 500 were permitted entry into the US. 2000 plus U.S soldiers have died. Where does the candidate stand on this issue, is what’s on everyone’s mind. How soon will the troops be brought home? What is to become of the Iraqi people? Big Questions. How our presidential candidates answer them, could potentially make or break their bid for president. On that note…..Aachoooooo….Aachooooo…achooo…

Even Angels Ask

By Naazish YarKhan

The days are just sliding by. Fun-filled days though. Days filled with downtime and slow time and getting-to-play-with-the kids-time. But mostly summer is a very busy time, with less alone time, with the children being home and on our watch. Amidst it all though, I’ve actually been able to think.

I've been getting pretty uptight about the way some Muslims are so wrapped up in the minutiae of our faith as opposed to the spirit of Islam. Some can endlessly fixate on which foot to enter the washroom with, or how wearing nail polish leaves the ritual ablutions incomplete, hence rendering the prayers unacceptable. Others can get into a tizzy about women having even a strand of hair showing during prayer. That too, apparently, renders the prayer unacceptable. Covering one's hair in public, is the other issue. I don't see it as 'mandatory'.

My understanding of God, is a loving, kind God, as long as we follow the five pillars, avoid what is 'haram' and practice the spirit of the religion. After all, each prayer, begins with the words, “In the Name of the Most Beneficent, the Merciful”. This is my version of Islam. All the 'little' rules, were they really necessary? I couldn’t understand all that energy being spent on fixing others ‘shortcomings’ rather than being energy directed on improving the environment, eradicating child abuse, domestic violence or changing the ills in society, all of which are part and parcel of the spirit of our faith. To me, leaving this world better than I found it, is an Islamic responsibility. Doing it each day of my life, is an Islamic responsibility. A friend reasoned that attention to minutiae, didn’t mean lack of attention to other broader issues. But I disagreed. We most talk about things that we are most passionate about and when nitty-gritty stuff are top of the mind consistently, it’s fairly obvious what one’s most pressing concerns are.

My annoyance at such ‘small-minded’ Muslims began when a lady at the mosque said I should come to the mosque only in full sleeves, (I was in half-sleeves, that day). I had tried on several full-sleeves shirts that morning since I knew I’d be visiting the mosque, but none seemed to match my skirt and I’d given up rather than get late. But she didn’t know that part of the story.

Her comment irritated me. Of what business was my attire to her, since I was only listening to a lecture and was not at the mosque to pray, I thought? I had my extra long duppatta covering my arms and was decently dressed by most standards. “If I stop attending this mosque because I’m insulted by your comment, would that be better?” I asked her, to which she replied that it would be better for me since men were also present to pray and skin distracts men.

The men were on a whole other floor! If catching a glimpse of six inches of flesh on my lower arms is enough to distract them, surely they can’t be paying any attention to their relationship with God. My temper boiled. But not wanting to quarrel in the house of God, as this has been expressly forbidden by the Prophet Mohammad, may God’s blessings be Upon him, I didn’t take the argument further.

This session, for me, got worse during the lecture, when another sister went into how important it was for Muslims to correct other Muslims from wrongdoing, albeit do it in a loving way. While she may have been thinking of asking Muslims to adhere to the five pillars of Islam or something major, I translated it to mean comments like the other lady had just made. Comments, which to me, were extraneous, meddlesome and impolite.

Why weren’t people more worried about their own relationship with God, than how close or how far others, strangers especially, were from attaining heaven? Did I go into their homes and see how politely or rudely they spoke to their spouses, servants or kids? Did I follow them to shopping malls and see if they held doors open for those behind them? Did I sit beside them on a train and see if they politely kept cell phone calls short versus force all the passengers to hear the conversation. A Muslim’s character is, after all, judged by all his deeds and actions. If I wasn’t following them around and critiquing them, what business was it of theirs to comment on my choices? What did they feel they would achieve by making someone feel unwelcome and ill-suited for the mosque? My irritation with that woman, and my annoyance at what some Muslims deem important, from then on seeped into every conversation. I ranted loud and clear to anyone who would listen.

As much as I held fast to my annoyance, I also knew something, which I was willing to accept, and hence examine. I know, when things (or people) begin to irritate us a lot, it is not about them as much as it about us. There was something that was going on within me that was causing me to react so strongly. I had to begin with me, especially since I know from the Quran that God doesn’t change a man's situation, until he changes that which is in himself. Or herself, as the case maybe. There are no free lunches, as my daughter says. You have to sow the seed, to harvest the fruit.

Maybe I was reacting so much because these ideas challenged my comfort zone? Or maybe, I'd rather not see that those ideas have validity, just because they aren't ideas I have intentions of adopting? Or, was it just a matter of me learning to live and let live? Me accepting that God gave us personalities, so that we would be different. By virtue of that, each of us is allowed to lean towards whatever appeals to us about Islam the most. That all of our practices can be and/and, instead of either/ or?

I thought about it, but wasn’t any wiser. I can sort out my thoughts and feelings better when I write, so I began writing an email. An email which I didn’t eventually send. As I wrote, it started to get clearer why some people make such a fuss about nail polish and a single hair showing through the hijab. Prayers in Islam are mandatory. And if one were risking them, one could very well be risking heaven. Hence, these individuals’ concern and feelings of righteous duty, to point things out to all and sundry. Ditto with the sight of women’s skin negating a man’s prayer! To these individuals, everything they knew and had learned about prayer, pointed to its importance. So anything that could challenge the perfect execution of prayer, was to be nipped in the bud.

That was one possibility. But I also realized that it was time to do some reading. I personally feel we often choose the easier path - herd mentality versus intellectual curiosity. We rather do it because our father’s did it, versus seeking the knowledge to find out why such and such, or so and so, applies in religion. It reminds me of a joke. A woman always cut a slice of turkey off before baking it for Thanksgiving. Her daughter, one day, asked why. And the mom goes, “because my mother did it.” And the girl asks her grand-ma, who also says the same. So then the girl asks the great-grandma, who says, " I cut the turkey because I had a small oven and it wouldn't fit in otherwise." I believe a lot simply based on faith. There are no two ways about it. But some issues raise questions. And it would serve me well to know why something says what it does, to understand it with my heart and my mind.

So I've just begun reading up on Islam. I really liked "Being Muslim " by Haroon Siddiqui because it is a critical look at both Muslims and those who are anti-Muslim. I'm also interested in reading Morrocon feminist Fatema Mernissi ( . Dr. Umar Farooq Abdulla of Nawawi Foundation ( in the USA is an amazing resource as well. Tariq Ramadan’s words are worth their weight in gold, too. Yusuf Islam, Amina Assilmi are others. Their works are often online, many times as free downloadable audio files. If you plan to do something similar, do be aware of those who write about Islam, but hate it with all their hearts. There are many of these writers around too, and the most touted have Muslim heritages.

I want to find out more about Wahabi-ism and what its interpretations of Islam are. It seems to have infiltrated mosques in the USA over the past 10-20 years, and I’d like to see in what way it is impacting the understanding we have of Islam today. I also want to learn specifically about Ijtehad which means intellectual endeavor to seek the solutions of day-today, current matters based on the Quran and Sunnah. Scholars bemoan the fact that there is almost next to nothing of this going on, currently. Again, what’s the impact?

God forgive me if I am wrong, but there is nothing wrong in asking questions and learning more. When God made man, it says in the Quran, that even the angels asked Him, if He would make a creation that would cause bloodshed on earth? When the angels, the most subservient to God, can ask, why not us? But, for Muslims, our intentions need to be clear. We can’t be asking questions, when our only intent is to look for wiggle room, or if our only intent is to dismiss the answers. Even when the intent is noble, certain others may look down on our desire to research religion. But it must be remembered, Islam began with the command ‘Read’. The Quran has repeatedly been addressed to those who ponder, who think, those who use their intellect. And as, the Prophet, God bless and keep him, said: “Seek knowledge even if in China, for the seeking of knowledge is incumbent upon every Muslim.” His other injunctions were, "Seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave", and "Verily the men of knowledge are the inheritors of the prophets". And the journey ahead begins with a single step.


By Naazish YarKhan

With my husband working sixty hours a week or is that seventy, I’ve been feeling alone lately. Not that there is a lack of other people or relationships or anything. But more like there isn't someone to totally, totally just talk to, and feel like you've been heard inside- out. But our week long trip to Canada and relatives last week, did feel like that. As though you're wrapped in love, attentiveness and affection. 4 generations of love and relationships - so much history. Fehmida Aunty and Zahid Mamoo, who we stayed with, are siblings and cousins of my grandparents, and know and love my parents. This visit, we got to know their children and grandchildren.

Taskeen had won an international poetry competition and the award ceremony was held in Toronto. I sent a press release out to local papers about Taskeen's winning and she was interviewed by one paper, and featured in another. Feels good to be guiding one's child well. If I had won the event, I would have run when invited to read my poem at the awards, so why not do it for her, I reasoned. Hubby had to work so driving nine hours with the kids in tow was out of the question. No one else wanted to come for the ride, so we took the bus – 12 hours. Not a bad trip, but not one I’d want to repeat, especially the return journey which got more stinky with each passenger. What’s more, in twelve hours, I could be in Muscat!

From Toronto, we took a train to Montreal. I’ve always been a last minute planner and this time it cost us dearly. All the last minute tickets cost twice as much compared to what they did, had we booked them two, three weeks in advance. We stayed at cousins in Montreal and went sightseeing. The city is so small and compact that distances aren’t an issue so we saw tons of sights each day. Zahid Mamoo and his daughter Azra didn't let us spend a penny. I have rarely encountered that having lived here all these years and this family has been in the West almost 40 years! Their hospitality reminded me of home and India, and my parents and at the end of the trip, I wondered why I live here, away from my siblings and parents, when I could live in the shadow of their love and affection instead.

Arvind Sharma, a friend of mine, originally from Bombay, now in Tuscan, Arizona found out I was living here and called this evening. He is in business with Faisal, my cousin and one of my best buds. Long story short, he found out Faisal and I were cousins and got my number. I remembered who he was the moment I heard his voice on the machine, even though he left a message with a long reminder as to who he was. How could I forget them! Arvind used to teach me math when I was in high school and I used to live at their place when I had exams, once my parents had moved to Muscat. They've been family friends with my parents ever since our dads worked together as young men.

Talking felt sooo good. Like stepping into the past. I can't wait to meet Arvind again. Arvind already had a career when I'd barely finished college. His brother, Atul, and I used to hang out more though. Maybe he'll come visit sometime too. Atul is based in Singapore. I feel so impatient now. Like I want to go and see them now. I am so eager, just to be with them again. I am going to ask him and his wife to come visit or we'll go over and visit. I have tons of family in Tuscan so staying anywhere will not be a problem. And besides my parents have ‘paid it forward’ years and years ago when we used to live in Bombay, and our home was a hostel to every relative using Bombay VT or Sahar International Airport. I can call and stay just about anywhere, because my parents opened their home to others with their hospitality and large-heartedness.

Maybe summer is also hard because my girl friends and I don't bother to keep in touch anymore. When the kids were younger and in preschool and hanging around our necks all day, we were desperate. The moms-and-children weekly get together kept us sane. Now, the kids are older. We have a laundry list of activities for them to attend and a phone call a week, between us friends, is something big. Sad, especially since I know I need relationships and what they do for me emotionally, but I just don't make the effort. Even when my neighbors Sadiya and Tariq moved to another town 30 minutes away, I'd go over and spend the night at their home, because it just felt like home. But a year later, I've given up on consistency which really is key to a good relationship.

But all is not lost. We are going to Columbus, Ohio for a former neighbor's son's birthday. Five families will make the six hour drive and we're all going to stay at the birthday house. It will be so much fun. Like a wedding house. We had 40 people under one roof, for two weeks, for my wedding. God willing, my hubby and I will have been together 13 years in August. I’ve been looking at pictures from summer holidays a year ago and two years ago and boy the kids grow quickly. How the last few years have flown by, and Praise be to God, we've really been happy together these past few years. Taskeen going away to college is a mere nine years away, her wedding maybe 15 years away? God willing, Yousuf will be in kindergarten in the fall. It feels like yesterday when I brought him home and called him Hasmuk Raja because he smiled so much. Both children in school. Quasi empty nest. It’s time for another one, maybe?


By Naazish YarKhan

Oh Me! Oh My! Oh No! It’s summer time and the kids are home. Needless to say, everything was out of whack the first week. The kids weren’t listening to anything. I was yelling, I was swearing and I was turning blue. And they still weren’t listening. How obstinate. How argumentative. Whose children were these, or rather why on earth did they have to turn out just like their parents, I wanted to know! Then I decided. Enough was enough. Three strikes and you’re out, became the rule. Want to back talk, want to leave the dishes on the table, want to leave the room a mess? Get ready for the ruler, if those are the choices you want to make, I warned them. Now my kids have never been hit. Maybe Yousuf has been spanked a total of ten times in his entire life. They only know rewards, stars and stickers for delivering the goods. Did baba say this was okay, asked my Taskeen? She was positive her dad would never agree. It’s a deterrent, I said to the man who pays all our bills. And I will not use the ruler if I am livid and close to losing my sense of control, I reasoned with my kids. But won’t you be angry if we’re not listening? You get angry about every little thing, retorted Taskeen.

So the rules were absolutely no whining, no backtalk, no yelling, obeying promptly, finishing meals without reminders and without having to be nagged and without running around in between mouthfuls. Other rules were making the bed before they left their rooms, picking clothes off the floor and hanging them in the closet. If they goofed up thrice, out came the ruler, and across their hand once. The first time my son earned his swat, “it didn’t hurt”, he whispered to his sister. “Come, I’ll give you another one then,” I offered and he politely declined the invite.

I wasn’t the only mom in this state. So were my friends. We were all being subjected to having the kids home 24 x 7. Another friend sent her 4 year old to bed without dinner for his backtalk. I told my kids as much. “What’s happening to all the children? Why are they all getting in trouble?” my Yousuf wailed. “All the mothers use the teachers as babysitters and don’t know how to take care of us, when we are home all the time,” responded my nine year old, Taskeen. I had guessed as much, but since when did she know how to read my mind? I also imagined that our minds have been reconfigured by instant access and instant messaging and instant results, and nothing, absolutely nothing, about raising kids is instant. They don’t listen in an instant, and they certainly don’t follow instructions and do as they are bid, in an instant. Who knew summer meant putting my mind and my expectations in slow mo? But the idea of the ruler, as I saw, was one terrific one. I had control over the kids and really there’s no reason to yell anymore. If they err, they face the consequences… and now they know mom will follow through with the swat. Three strikes is all it takes, and they’re being careful.


Mr. Siddiqui is the award-winning editor and columnist of Canada's largest circulation newspaper, the Toronto Star and author of Canadian best seller, Being Muslim. He is a former president of the very prestigious PEN, Canada, as well as a Hafiz-ul-Quran, which means one who has memorized all 114 chapters of the Quran. Mr. Siddiqui has been awarded the Order of Canada, the nation's highest civilian honor, for his journalistic contributions as well as for his volunteer work. His book Being Muslim is targeted at adults and youth, and his columns in the Toronto Star can be read online at

Why do I think his work is so relevant? Well, we live in dangerous times. The decision to have him speak to an audience would have far reaching benefits, because it is an alternative, a pre-emptive move to appeal to Muslim youth and adults alike, with balanced, informed insights. Let there be no mistake, there are those in our very midst, who believe that violence is justified, and that distorting religion to fuel violence is justified. They exist and they recruit our vulnerable.

While American Muslims, by and large, have not indulged in the kind of terrorism that UK has witnessed, we need to make sure our communities have balanced perspectives made available to them. Views such as Mr. Siddiqui’s would counter-balance talk and opinions based on skewed observations, that can rile up passions to the detriment of Muslims at large. By God’s grace, we in the US, still have time to take a pro-active stance in educating the community, and the likes of Mr. Siddiqui, are the arrows in our quiver. He represents Muslims whose voices often go unheard amidst the Islamophobic ravings of the likes of Irshad Manji and the violent rhetoric and actions of extremists, both of whom have come to define Muslims and Islam in the public mind.

Being Muslim has been internationally recognized as a bridge to create a better understanding of Muslims and Islam amongst Non-Muslims. Amongst Muslims, it provides an overview of key contemporary political and social issues affecting us. A voice of moderation and wisdom in the post-9/11 world, Siddiqui has a readership that includes people from many cultures. According to the American Library Association review on

“While clearly concerned about terrorism and other dangers, Siddiqui attacks the propaganda of collective guilt. Without preaching or political jargon …., he shows that the extremists are being challenged by a new generation of Muslims, and welcomes the current internal reformation.”

Based on Br. Siddiqui's interviews with scholars and other experts and his travels in Muslim lands and in the West, Being Muslim summarizes the impact of terrorism on Muslims; explains how Islam is interwoven into the daily lives of ordinary Muslims, regardless of where they live; dissects Western discourse, especially the media's, on Islam and Muslims; and tackles all the controversial topics, from terrorism to the treatment of women. It ends with the hope that, despite the current misunderstandings and anger, there are reasons to expect a future of mutual understanding.

On that note, I hope you shall buy the book. You can browse through it on Amazon and read excerpts, too. If you’re a distributor, I hope you’re thinking of purchasing the book and stocking your stores. And if you’re a university, or a school principal, I hope you’re thinking of booking Mr. Siddiqui for a lecture. Between his speaking engagements in Malaysia, Singapore and cities across the globe, I’m sure he’d love to visit your city, too. And if you think of doing any of the following, do remember to email me too, or tell his publicist that you read about his book in my column. Like my engineer husband says, it doesn’t matter how hard you tried, the only thing that matters are the results you can produce!