Now in paperback, a timely meditation on being Muslim in America today.
Honorable Mention in the 2017 San Francisco Book Festival Awards, Spiritual Category
Named on Booklist's Top Ten Religion and Spirituality Books of 2016, Threading My Prayer Rug is a richly textured reflection on what it is to be a Muslim in America. It is also the luminous story of many journeys: from Pakistan to the United States in an arranged marriage that becomes a love match lasting forty-five years; from secular Muslim in an Islamic society to devout Muslim in a society ignorant of Islam, and from liberal to conservative to American Muslim; from bride to mother; and from an immigrant intending to stay two years to an American citizen, business executive, grandmother, and tireless advocate for interfaith understanding.
Beginning with a sweetly funny, moving account of her arranged marriage, the author undercuts stereotypes and offers the refreshing view of an American life through Muslim eyes. Sabeeha was doing interfaith work for Imam Feisal A. Rauf, the driving force behind the Muslim community center near Ground Zero, when the backlash began. She recounts what that experience revealed about American society and in a new preface discusses Islam in America in the time of Trump.
SubtitleOne Woman's Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim
AuthorBy Sabeeha Rehman
Published19 September 2017
Dimensions6.00 x 9.00in.
Illustrations27 color photos. 3 B & W photos..
About the author
Sabeeha Rehman was born and raised in Pakistan. She came to the United States in 1971 after a hurried arranged marriage to a Pakistani doctor in New York. With a bachelor’s degree in Home Economics, she settled into the life of a homemaker. Once both her sons were enrolled full-time in school, she went back to college to get her masters in healthcare administration and began her twenty-five-year career as a hospital executive. Her career spanned hospitals in New York, New Jersey, and Saudi Arabia.
Raising children Muslim in the absence of a Muslim community was a daunting challenge. In the early 1980s, she and her husband began the work of establishing a Muslim community on Staten Island, where they were living at the time. Their efforts culminated in the building of a mosque.
Ms. Rehman has spent the last several decades in engaging in interfaith dialogue with faith communities. She served as the director of interfaith programs at the American Society for Muslim Advancement and as the chief operating officer at the Cordoba Initiative, a multifaith organization dedicated to building bridges between Muslims and the West. She is active on the interfaith circuit, raising awareness of Islam, and Muslims in America.
When her grandson was diagnosed with autism, she left her career and cofounded the New York Metro Chapter of the National Autism Association, and served as its first president.
Her memoir, Threading My Prayer Rug, received Honorable Mention in Spirituality in the San Francisco Book Festival Awards of 2017. It was listed as a Top 10 Religion and Spirituality Book of 2016 and a Top 10 Diverse Nonfiction Books of 2017 by Booklist. She has contributed op-eds to the Wall Street Journal, and she blogs on topics related to American Muslim and Pakistani immigrant experience at www.sabeeharehman.com.
She lives in New York City with her husband Khalid, a retired hematologist/oncologist
"Rehman's spirited debut memoir illuminates the challenges of living an authentically Muslim life in America. . . . With sparkling anecdotes about everything from the 'Christmas-ization of Eid' to engineering her son's marriage, Rehman lends a light heart and an open mind to the process of becoming a multicultural 'hybrid.'" —Publishers Weekly
"A heartfelt memoir plumbs the multilayered experience of being Muslim in America. With a steady infusion of verve and personality, Rehman immerses readers in the traditions of a Middle Eastern culture. . . . Rehman's memoir offers a deeper understanding and appreciation for Muslim lifestyles while imparting a message of unity and international fellowship. A culturally rich and rewarding personal chronicle of ethnic faith and intermingled tradition." —Kirkus
"An entertaining and honest story of one woman's journey to fuse the cultures of her past and present to create her own experience . . . Her story is permeated with hilarious personal experiences and asides as she adapts to the country she will soon call home. Rehman lends a strong and compelling voice to moderate Muslims, and her discussion of her faith and the areas she believes need modernization illustrate the different opinions within the Muslim community." —Library Journal
"The country needs this counterbalancing personal story to correct the pervasive misunderstanding of what Islam is truly about and the contributions to our American democracy that most American Muslims make every day of their lives. Exceptionally well written and consistently compelling read from beginning to end. . . . Somebody donate a copy of Threading My Prayer Rug to every Republican member of Congress, every Republican member of a state legislature, and every Republican governor who advocates for preventing Muslims from settling in their state." —Midwest Book Review
"That one masterstroke of penmanship and objective thought is the ultimate grand finale to a lifelong effort of understanding not only other faiths, but also her own." —Dawn newspaper (Pakistan)
"Take this journey on Sabeeha's prayer rug, and you will be enchanted as she vividly and beautifully transports you through rich and elaborate threads of a lifetime lived with love, intelligence, and compassion—an inspiration to all." —Ranya Tabari Idliby, coauthor of The Faith Club and author of Burqas, Baseball and Apple Pie
"Funny and frank, acute, and compassionate, this story of an immigrant 'fish out of water' who falls in love with her adopted American home is for all of us, and for all times—but current events also make it the story for this time. As Americans consider who they were, are, and want to be in the future, they could have no better guide than Sabeeha Rehman. I can't imagine our country, or my bookshelf, without her." —Susan Choi, Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of A Person of Interest and My Education
"With anti-Islamic sentiments on the rise in this country, Threading My Prayer Rug is a refreshing look at what it is really like to be a Muslim in the US today. With humor, charm, and great insight, Sabeeha Rehman recounts how one can be both a devout Muslim and an American wife, mom, grandmother and community activist." —Jan Goodwin, award-winning author, journalist, and Senior Fellow at Brandeis University's Schuster Institute of Investigative Journalism
"Coming to America is seldom associated with discovering one's faith—let alone Islam. Rich in exotic detail, Sabeeha's true-life story is funny, sweet, beautiful, warm, and deeply touching to any reader, who will note how much the heart and soul of a Muslim mother is like that of any other." —Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, founder of Cordoba House, author of What's Right With Islam and Moving the Mountain
"Sabeeha Rehman's prose resonates with intimacy, wisdom, and wit. She achieves a richly textured narrative that introduces readers to the rituals and enduring values of her Muslim faith as she, her husband Khalid and their sons Saqib and Asim integrate into the American melting pot. At the conclusion of her classic text, Ms. Rehman affirms, 'Together we will change the discourse, quell violence with knowledge, and banish phobias to the fringe as we work together in unity of the spirit.' This reader was moved to respond, 'Ameen . . . Amen.'" —Sidney Offit, former president of the Authors Guild Foundation and Authors League Fund and author of Memoir of a Bookie's Son
"A charming and engrossing book, Threading My Prayer Rug provides a window to a culture and people we do not know enough about. . . . Readable, easy to relate to, and inspiring!" —Sumbul Ali-Karamali, author of The Muslim Next Door: the Qur'an, the Media, and that Veil Thing
"Threading My Prayer Rug is a beautifully written memoir of a cosmopolitan and faithful Pakistani-American Muslim woman. It's recommended for all who want to have a sense of how the tapestry of American Islam is shaped by the contributions of a variety of Muslims, including those from South Asia." —Omid Safi, Director, Duke Islamic Studies Center
"Threading My Prayer Rug is a warm, wise, and wonderful book. Ms. Rehman writes in a wry and often humorous style that is understanding of human foibles yet gently pushes readers of all backgrounds to become fuller and more engaged human beings. As an Orthodox rabbi working to strengthen cooperation between Jews and Muslims, I was moved by her involvement in Muslim-Jewish coalition-building efforts." —Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding and coauthor with Imam Shamsi Ali of Sons of Abraham