Synopses & Reviews
ONE OF BOOKLIST'S TOP TEN RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY BOOKS OF 2016
This enthralling story of the making of an American is also a timely meditation on being Muslim in America today.
Threading My Prayer Rug is a richly textured reflection on what it is to be a Muslim in America today. It is also the luminous story of many journeys: from Pakistan to the United States in an arranged marriage that becomes a love match lasting forty years; from secular Muslim in an Islamic society to devout Muslim in a society ignorant of Islam, and from liberal to conservative to American Muslim; from student to bride and mother; and from an immigrant intending to stay two years to an American citizen, business executive, grandmother, and tireless advocate for interfaith understanding.
Beginning with a sweetly funny, moving account of her arranged marriage, the author undercuts stereotypes and offers the refreshing view of an American life through Muslim eyes. In chapters leavened with humor, hope, and insight, she recounts an immigrant s daily struggles balancing assimilation with preserving heritage, overcoming religious barriers from within and distortions of Islam from without, and confronting issues of raising her children as Muslims while they lobby for a Christmas tree Sabeeha Rehman was doing interfaith work for Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the driving force behind the Muslim community center at Ground Zero, when the backlash began. She discusses what that experience revealed about American society.
"Threading My Prayer Rug is a warm, wise, and wonderful book. Ms. Rehman writes in a wry and often humorous style that is understanding of human foibles yet gently pushes readers of all backgrounds to become fuller and more engaged human beings. As an Orthodox rabbi working to strengthen cooperation between Jews and Muslims, I was moved by her involvement in Muslim-Jewish coalition-building efforts." Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and coauthor with Imam Shamsi Ali of Sons of Abraham
"Coming to America is seldom associated with discovering one's faith — let alone Islam. Rich in exotic detail, Sabeeha's true-life story is funny, sweet, beautiful, warm, and deeply touching to any reader, who will note how much the heart and soul of a Muslim mother is like that of any other." Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, founder of Cordoba House, author of What's Right With Islam and Moving the Mountain
"Funny and frank, acute, and compassionate, this story of an immigrant ‘fish out of water’ who falls in love with her adopted American home is for all of us, and for all times — but current events also make it the story for this time. As Americans consider who they were, are, and want to be in the future, they could have no better guide than Sabeeha Rehman. I can’t imagine our country, or my bookshelf, without her." Susan Choi, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of A Person of Interest and My Education
"A heartfelt memoir plumbs the multilayered experience of being Muslim in America. With a steady infusion of verve and personality, Rehman immerses readers in the traditions of a Middle Eastern culture.... Rehman's memoir offers a deeper understanding and appreciation for Muslim lifestyles while imparting a message of unity and international fellowship. A culturally rich and rewarding personal chronicle of ethnic faith and intermingled tradition." Kirkus Reviews
"Rehman’s personal journey is her own, but speaks broadly to all immigrant journeys in contemporary America. With so much discussion about immigrants from Muslim in the national conversation, it’s good to have a story with this unique perspective." Booklist (Starred Review)
About the Author
Sabeeha Rehman came to the United States in 1971. When her sons were school age, she earned her masters in healthcare administration and began a career as a hospital administrator. After her grandson was diagnosed with autism, in 2008 she cofounded the New York Metro chapter of the National Autism Association and was its president. She has spent several decades working for interfaith dialogue and was director of interfaith programs at the American Society for Muslim Advancement and COO of the Cordoba Initiative. She lives with her husband in New York City.