Laughing All the Way to the Mosque

In Laughing All the Way to the Mosque, Canadian television producer Zarqa Nawaz returns to the territory she explored in her groundbreaking television comedy, Little Mosque on the Prairie: the everyday challenges of being a practicing Muslim in North America.

Writing in a style that is both irreverent and thoughtful, Nawaz presents the balancing act between assimilation and faith that has shaped her experiences as Muslim daughter, wife, mother, feminist and filmmaker. Some elements of Nawaz's story are familiar from other accounts of childhood in an immigrant family: the cultural battlefield of the school lunchbox, conflicts with conservative parents over standards of modesty, and ethnically specific summer camps designed to reinforce cultural traditions. Others are very specific to Islam and Nawaz's personal engagement with her faith: explaining to a non-Muslim plumber why the sink needs to be within arm's length of the toilet, cooking her first Eid feast at the end of Ramadan, fighting to allow women to pray with men in her local mosque.

Whether poking fun at the foibles of her community or attempting to untangle custom from doctrine, Nawaz's laughter is directed at herself within her faith but never at the faith itself. The result is a picture of Muslims in American that is humorous, positive and--most importantly--familiar.

Laughing All the Way to the Mosque is a significant reminder that most Muslims are neither terrorists nor extremists. It's also a rollicking good read. --Pamela Toler, blogging at History in the Margins

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