"I really wanted to enjoy this book to gain an understanding of the immigrant experience from the point of view of an observant Muslim. There were two barriers to this enjoyment. One, the writing style is unpolished and, in my opinion, sophomoric. Secondly, there is an agenda to promote her beliefs in a way that I find vaguely insulting to my intelligence and way of life. I cannot recommend spending your time reading this or money to purchase the book. I have read much better from Muslim authors, and have gained understanding that is lacking in this book." Nashville Nancy said.
"I had purchased this for a class and loved it. Definitely recommend for any reader." Honest Buyer Tav said.
"Great novel by great literary expert. You have to read in the funny way she reads." Muhammad Alqarni said.
"With exquisite, poetic prose, Kahf teaches us so much about the diversity of American Muslims. You can see the commonalities between the immigrant Muslim community and the conservative Midwestern culture, between the child of Christian missionaries and the child of those commissioned to shore up and educate the faith and practice of Muslims in America, between the orthodox Jewish woman and the conservative Muslim woman, and the outsiderness of any religious person In secular society. Perspectives that I only wondered about, but never heard--on the Iranian revolution, Palestine, The Gulf war, the immodesty of American women, and the varieties of hijab." Nicole Duran said.
"A pivotal work of American muslim literature. I’m just in the middle of the book and like it a lot..." Karel Helman said.
"The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf is an insightful and passionate tale of a Muslim-American woman, Khadra Shamy, growing up in Indianapolis in the 1970s. Raised in a strong, Muslim household, Khadra has a difficult time finding home even when surrounded by family and friends. When her ideal Muslim marriage falls apart, so does she. Khadra journeys back to Syria where she rediscovers herself and her love of prayer. Upon her return to the United States, she moves to Philadelphia to break away from her former life. When a writing opportunity back in Indiana presents itself, she decides to make the trip back home where she is reacquainted with friends and family of her past.
Khadra is relatable to anyone growing up and trying to figure out their identities, regardless of their religious background. She encounters situations that make her question herself, her family, and her religion, something many people go through. Although I do not identify as Muslim, I connected with Khadra in many ways. Her need for adventure and self-discovery holds true to anyone who feels disconnected with themselves. Author Mohja Kahf does a beautiful job portraying the emotions of her characters. Khadra’s sense of pride in where she came from, her questioning of her faith, and her sense of struggle is evident in Kahf’s writing.
I recommend this book to anyone who wants to know more about the Muslim-American identify. It’s real, relatable, and filled with emotion. My only major critique is on clarification. There are times Kahf does not explain specific customs, traditions, vocabulary, and skims over characters, which makes it difficult for someone outside that identity to follow. Regardless, I loved the book. I learned a lot about the lifestyle, traditions, and the struggles Muslims faced (and continue to face) regarding Islamophobia and struggles within their own community. It is powerful, educational, and tells a story mainstream America needs to hear." Amazon Customer said.
"The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf
There are two quotes I specifically picked out that I think set the scene for this book. Mohja Kahf’s writing makes you want to finish the book in one sitting. Her story telling and set-up of short chapters leading from moment to moment set the stage for an adventure that is life. The way she delicately and intently speaks to the ways Islam, like many religions of the world, changes from each person, each community, and each country, speaks volumes to the way ones experiences the changes within themselves when it comes to religion.
“The sensation of being hijabed was a thrill. Khadra had acquired vestments of a higher order. Hijab was a crown on her head. She went forth lightly and went forth heavily into the world, carrying the weight of a new grace. Even though it went off and on at the door several times a day, hung on a hook marking the threshold between inner and outer worlds, hijab soon grew to feel as natural to her as a second skin, without which if she ventured into the outside world she felt naked.” (112-113). From the very beginning, Khadra takes on the importance of faith to her family, to her community, to herself. She learns quickly the weight that religion has to those close to her, and the expectations she must set for herself, not matter where she is. She also quickly learns that outside of her community, there are many who wish the worst for her “people”.
“Luqman told her not to travel so late, because the Klansmen were returning from Skokie, where they’d not been allowed to have the big rally they had planned. Simmonsville, Martinsville, Greenwood, Plainfield, not to mention Indianapolis – all these towns had sent out truckloads of bigots to the march, and they’d be pulling into the last stretch of home right about then, mad as hornets. ‘Christian terrorists on the loose,’ Luqman said.” (89). Sounds a bit familiar? What makes this story so believable is that these things have happened, and continue to happen in a world plagued by people who refuse or simply won’t learn more about the other, the neighbor. It was after the murder and rape of Khadra’s friend Zuhura that she really began to question whether, or even more importantly how, Muslims belonged in America. “Maybe we don’t belong here… Maybe she belonged in a place where she would not get shoved and called “raghead” every other day in the school hallway.” (97). Several years later her family took a trip to Saudi Arabia to make Haj. A pointed moment that sticks out in the book at this point is when Khadra is escorted back to her host-home by police, and is made to feel as if she is a bad woman for wanting to go to the mosque to pray fajr. It is here that she learns from her Baba that women are not allowed to go the mosque in most Muslim countries, in spite of what the Quran and the Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, says which Khadra quotes to the men and is mocked. She was in the Holy land, and discovered things that were not holy. Throughout the rest of the book, Khadra experiences things she never thought she would have to, and like many people has to face the fact that questioning your faith is a part of having faith. She faces many different forms of practicing Muslims in many different places, many of which she was not fond of. However, in meeting these various practicing Muslims, from Assyria, from Damascus, she learned how to pray, actually pray, for the first time in her life. She now felt that being covered and uncovered each had its purpose, and she could be comfortable in both. The girl in the tangerine scarf began to embody her beliefs internally without requiring the reminders the physical items represented." Haley said.