Read more on Muslims

The Koran

Revised translation by N.J. Dawood
Penguin Classics $11

N.J. Dawood, born in Baghdad, first translated The Koran into English in the 1950s. The book is considered to be the earliest and finest work of classic Arabic prose. For Muslims, the book contains the Word of God as passed along to the fifth century prophet Muhammad by the Angel Gabriel. Much like the Christian Bible, this book contains some moments of pure poetry, helpful philosophical commentary and plenty of thoroughly baffling passages. In the chapter titled Women, wives are given the right to keep their dowries and to inherit property. The chapter also contains a statement of male superiority and seems to give men the permission to beat their wives. The translation bugs some Muslim feminists.

Daughters of Another Path: Experiences of American Women Choosing Islam

Catherine Anderson Anway
Yawna Publications $13.95

Why would an American woman choose to become a Muslim? This book tells the story of a Catherine Anway, whose daughter converted, and how she came to terms with her daughter’s choice. The book also includes stories from more than 50 American women converts. Many converts say that, contrary to popular stereotypes, it is American society that degrades women, treating women’s bodies as objects to be exploited for profit in every venue possible. This book is on Nevada anthropologist Jill Derby’s recommended reading list. “These women who’ve converted say they’ve felt that one of the changes is a new respect and honor for their place as women,” Derby says of the stories in the book. “We have thought that they must feel degraded, and here it’s just the opposite.”

American Muslims: The New Generation

Asma Gull Hasan
Continuum $15.95

I judged this book by its cover—a shot of two women, no veils, in ski jackets—and bought it at the university bookstore. Hasan, who refers to herself as a Muslim feminist cowgirl, writes with a conversationally academic voice. The book delves into the history of the religion, its connections with Christianity ("Jesus and Jihad"), politics, women’s rights and Muslim reform. The Taliban would have a cow. Hasan markets her faith well.