Engaged Surrender: African American Women and Islam

Engaged Surrender: African American Women and Islam

Engaged Surrender: African American Women and Islam

Engaged Surrender: African American Women and Islam


"This sharp and timely book is a pioneering contribution. Systematically mapping African American women's lives within Islam for the first time, Rouse establishes that engagement is as meaningful an ethic as liberation for black women, and black folk generally. A provocative, deeply conscientious work that will engender overdue debate in anthropology, feminist studies, black studies, and Islamic studies."--Adam Green, Assistant Professor of History and American Studies, New York University

"Rouse's study charts a neglected and much misunderstood path for Black women's empowerment. What we learn rocks many assumptions of liberalism, Western feminism, women's activism, and prevailing notions of freedom. In a climate where the status of women within Islam is uncritically used as proof of women's oppression, "Engaged Surrender "reads like a breath of fresh air."--Patricia Hill Collins, author of "Black Feminist Thought "

""Engaged Surrender "is an insightful ethnographic analysis of two dozen women who are members of two masjids in southern California. We learn about their conversions, the ways their lives have changed, and how they negotiate a desire for agency and a traditional gender hierarchy--from childrearing, to hijab-wearing, to work, to marriage, to Qur'anic exegesis. Rouse's vivid portrayal of her subjects and fluent familiarity with feminist debates and anthropological theory make this book a compelling new study, particularly in the wake of 9/11."--Faye Ginsburg, author of "Contested Lives"


Almost six months to the day after a group of terrorists attacked the United States by flying planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, I was asked to speak about Islam at a state agency. It had created a “diversity” team responsible for finding creative ways of educating the staff about multicultural issues. the person who invited me had seen me speak about Islam on a local public television show, and in a moment of insanity, I said yes. My television interview had been hard enough, why would I subject myself to the same forms of interrogation? How could I be an “expert” about things I really know nothing about, such as how Americans feel about this tragedy. My expectation was that six months after 9/11 Americans had become more sophisticated about Islam. the explosion of information produced and disseminated was rich, and for a moment the popular press focused on the diversity within the Muslim ummah (community). Notably, the press tried to show that Islam does not support violence against civilians, and that at least 99.99 percent of all Muslims want peace.

Accepting the opportunity to talk I thought, naively, that this audience would be interested in learning about a particular group of African American Sunni Muslims. I was hoping this talk would extend further the discussions already extant in the media on the diversity in the Muslim . . .

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