Even if Muslims are gaining more recognition in American society, they are underrepresented when it comes to books about their faith.
Publisher’s Weekly (Nov. 13) reports that the bookstore shelves do not fully reflect U.S. religious diversity when it comes to Islam, but “signs of change are evident.” Most Muslim books continue to be published by the Chicago-based Kazi Publications, which is expanding into publishing religious education works for second and third generation Muslims. As with other religious minorities, American Muslims are also interested in their roots, which is fueling Kazi’s 100-volume series of Great Books of the Islamic World.
Most of the secular trade publishers have issued books on the Islamic world, but they are usually targeted to interested outsiders rather than to a Muslim readership. One unique title coming out in December by Continuum is the memoir “American Muslim: The New Generation,” by third-year NYU law student Asma Gull Hasan.
For the most part, Sufism, the mystical wing of Islam, continues to occupy most publishers’ attention. Since the early 1990s, the work of the Sufi poet Rumi has drawn an ever larger audience, catching some publishers who thought it was a fad by surprise. Other Sufi teachers, philosophers and poets are “coming through the door opened by Rumi,” writes Marcia Z. Nelson.