Threading My Prayer Rug, Sabeeha Rehman.
Threading My Prayer Rug: One Woman’s Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim, Sabeeha Rehman. Arcade Publishing (2016), 336 pages.
A valuable and informative account of a woman’s religious journey from Pakistan where she was raised, to New York where she came as a young bride and gradually became involved in the creation of a moderate American Muslim community.
Sabeeha Rehman was born and raised in Pakistan. Although her parents were rather liberal, all those around her took the Muslim faith for granted. Her world was immersed in Islam. After an arranged and very happy marriage to a young doctor, she came to New York in 1971. Other Muslims seemed invisible. As her two sons grew, she wanted to ensure they were grounded in Islam. Her first step was to find and create a Muslim community to celebrate the faith and teach the children. She and her husband began a Sunday school and later a Mosque. After her experience of the Haji, a trip to Mecca, her faith deepened. Rehman became a leader in the group as they worked through what was essential to Muslims as a minority religion in America and what should be discarded or reshaped, such as the attitudes toward women. She also became deeply involved with Christians, Jews, and Hindus who shared her hopes for a pluralistic nation.
As a woman who has known Islam in both Pakistan and New York, Rehman is able to write knowledgeably about its basic practices and local differences. She provides readers with some of the texture of living as a Muslim woman and offers valuable examples about the practical aspects of how Muslims pray and celebrate. She describes how traditional arranged marriages are giving way to practices that give young people more chances to meet other Muslims and still prioritize the existing families. She discusses differences among Muslims and the Islamophobia in the United States in recent years as well as her growing role in interfaith work.
I enthusiastically recommend Threading my Prayer Rug as a fine introduction to what it means to share our country and our world with Muslims.