OLD ISLAM IN DETROIT documents the rich history of Islam in Detroit, a city that is home to several of America’s oldest and most diverse Muslim communities. By looking closely at this history, Sally Howell provides a new interpretation of the possibilities and limits of Muslim incorporation in American life. Showing how Islam has become American in the past, Howell argues that the anxieties many new Muslim Americans and non-Muslims feel about the place of Islam in American society today are part of a dynamic process of political and religious change that is still unfolding.
August 2014 | 368 pp. | 38 illus. | Hardcover $35.00 | 978-0-19-937200-3
"The early twentieth century witnessed the institutionalization of mainstream Islam in America. Its history, however, has been overlooked until recently. I can think of no place more central than Detroit to understanding the complex racial, sectarian, civic, and political relations of American Muslims in this era. And no scholar is more familiar with Detroit’s Muslims than Howell. Her book is a major step forward in the study of American Islam." –Kambiz GhaneaBassiri, Associate Professor of Religion and Humanities, Reed College
"Only in the twenty-first century have scholars begun to provide full and accurate histories of Muslim communities. Sifting through previously unexplored archives and interviewing elders to complete this saga, Howell’s well-written, richly illustrated text provides students of Islam in America with a story of multiple communities, their interactions and their formation of American Muslim identities. It will become a classroom staple for teaching about Islam in America." –Aminah Beverly McCloud, Professor, Islamic Studies, DePaul University
"Howell recovers a lost chapter of U.S. religious history. This highly-readable analysis explains why Muslims and non-Muslims alike have forgotten about the first American mosques. Old Islam in Detroit is a major contribution to the study of Muslim America." –Edward E. Curtis, IV, author of Muslims in America: A Short History
"This book challenges almost everything we thought we knew about the early history of Muslims in Detroit and beyond, transforming our understanding of the American Muslim past and present. Howell’s thorough research, including priceless interviews with early settlers, shows that those first mosques were mosques, that they were both translocal and transcommunal, and that women played key roles in building them. Howell provides particularly significant material relating to gender issues, African American Sunnis, and the recurring criticism of, and then accommodation to, Muslim American institutions by successive cohorts of Muslim immigrants." –Karen Leonard, author of Muslim Identities in North America: the State of Research