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Muslims of Metropolis

Muslims of Metropolis: The Stories of Three Immigrant Families in the West

Kavitha Rajagopalan
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 304
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hhz3j
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  • Book Info
    Muslims of Metropolis
    Book Description:

    InMuslims of Metropolis, Kavitha Rajagopalan takes a much needed step in personalizing and humanizing our understanding of the Muslim diaspora. Tracing the stories of three very different families-a Palestinian family moving to London, a Kurdish family moving to Berlin, and a Bangladeshi family moving to New York-she reveals a level of complexity and nuance that is seldom considered.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4551-6
    Subjects: Political Science, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE AND ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. NOTE ON THE TEXT
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-11)

    In the last decade, widespread discussion of Muslim countries, immigrants, religious practices, social customs, and political beliefs has rendered Muslims far more visible than they have been at any other time in Western history. But more often than not, the rhetoric of these public discussions conflates diverse and unrelated communities into one group, and associates Islamic identity with largely negative social stereotypes. In countries throughout the West, Muslim immigrants live under the scrutiny of the rest of society, and at times of the government. They are regularly suspected of sympathizing with movements characterized as sociopathic, terrorist, and anti-Western. Frequently, they...

  6. PROLOGUE
    (pp. 12-20)

    A sporty black BMW rolls into the narrow alley shiny with rain far in London’s southwest corner, and pulls up in front of the office for the Palestinian ambassador. It is November 16, 2004, just five days after Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, died, and Sharif Nashashibi and his mother Muna, both prominent British Arab activists, are coming to pay their respects and to meet with the ambassador. Sharif steps out of the driver’s seat, wearing a fitted black shirt, his hair styled to look effortlessly groomed, trailing the faintest scent of fine cologne. As he stands...

  7. PART I Migration and Memory

    • CHAPTER 1 THE NASHASHIBIS’ FAIRY TALE
      (pp. 23-47)

      In the cozy, chaotic den on the second floor of her central London home, Muna Nashashibi moves slowly between the couch and the low coffee table cluttered with newspapers in Arabic and English. It is a cold winter evening, and she is looking for her last pill of the day. The television broadcasts an Arabic news channel, and the news is of bloodshed in Iraq, of bloodshed in Palestine. Every few minutes she sits back down on the couch and, as she catches her breath from the exertion of minor movements, she squints at the television screen, her face angry...

    • CHAPTER 2 THE DOGANS’ LONG GOOD-BYE
      (pp. 48-73)

      The Dogan house is full of people, but for the moment, Mehmet Dogan and Adla, his wife of fifty-two years, are alone. It is a frosty afternoon in January 2005 in this small town just north of Hannover, Germany, and Mehmet is dressing his wife in her finest traditional Kurdish attire for their daughter Sukriye’s wedding. Adla sits on the bed, her shoulders bowed under the weight of her recent stroke, shivering slightly from the icy draft gusting through the gap in the curtains to her right. Mehmet disappears into the closet and rummages noisily inside, emerging once, twice, three...

    • CHAPTER 3 THE ISLAMS’ LAST RESORT
      (pp. 74-94)

      Rafiqul Islam sits in his apartment in Queens, New York, on a frayed couch in the late afternoon sun one fine summer day in 2004, his left arm flung behind his head. His right hand fingers the edge of the grayed, stained sheet covering the couch. The sheet bunches under his thighs. To his right, the Disney channel blares from the television on a tall shelf against the wall, but neither he nor his four-year-old granddaughter Ayesha pays any attention to it. She chatters plaintively, begging him to play with her. His grandson Rasha, not yet two years old, crawls...

  8. PART II Integration and Identity

    • CHAPTER 4 RECLAIMING THE DISTANT HOMELAND
      (pp. 97-124)

      From the very beginning of their life in London, both Hikmat and Muna Nashashibi were engaged in making things better in their homelands. Because of their relative wealth, they had little interest in focusing on gaining access to British social services and institutions. While Hikmat worked to expand the horizons and opportunities for Arab investors and Muna sought out opportunities for political activism that would have been impossible in Kuwait or Syria, Britain’s largest immigrant communities were struggling with entrenched economic and social disenfranchisement. Even as Arabs from northern Africa settled into working-class neighborhoods in and around London, most of...

    • CHAPTER 5 RECREATING THE LOST VILLAGE
      (pp. 125-154)

      Mehmet Dogan came to Germany for one purpose only: to make money and then, at the end of his contract, go back home. He had a whole life waiting for him there, and no intention of building a new one anywhere else. But he waited too long, extended his contract too many times, and when he finally did decide to take a look around him and figure out what he wanted from a life in Germany, his village was under siege and his homeland was too dangerous for him to return. Almost instinctively, he began to recreate his lost village,...

    • CHAPTER 6 REJECTING THE BURDEN OF HERITAGE
      (pp. 155-180)

      Rafiqul and Nishat arrived in New York City in the summer of 1996 with tourist visas. But there would be no trips to the Statue of Liberty or Rockefeller Plaza for them. From the moment their airplane touched down at John F. Kennedy Airport, they had only one aim: to earn enough dollars to forestall the family’s financial collapse in Bangladesh. Rafiqul had plans to enroll his daughter in an American school, with the hopes that she might build a long and prosperous life in the United States, but he had little ambition for himself to achieve anything from this...

  9. PART III Alienation and Acceptance

    • CHAPTER 7 SHARIF GOES HOME
      (pp. 183-208)

      Sharif slouches in front of his computer in a robe and socks, his eyes red and tired. It is almost 5:00 a.m., and he has barely moved from this spot in the last twenty-four hours. He thinks about little else but war, destruction, and suffering throughout the Arab world. If there is indeed a clash of civilizations, it plays out every day in media reports he monitors and analyzes through the media advocacy organization he chairs, Arab Media Watch. Through his work, he sees how even the most respectable and professional of Britain’s media organizations consistently forgo objectivity and balance...

    • CHAPTER 8 SUKRIYE FINDS LOVE
      (pp. 209-238)

      Sukriye trudges through her days like a robot. She is sleep-deprived and losing money fast. And she has fallen in love for the first time in her life. He is perfect in every way—intelligent, gentle, literary, and a fellow Kurd whom her parents are bound to adore. He just happens to be living in Syria. In a few months, the home for traumatized refugees where she has worked for four years will close, leaving her jobless. She has no backup plan. In fact, she has only one plan. Get the man she loves out of Syria and into Germany....

    • CHAPTER 9 NISHAT LETS GO
      (pp. 239-261)

      Nishat barely takes note of news from Iraq, Palestine, or even Bangladesh. For her, the war on terror is neither abstract nor broad, but rather very personal and very intimate. She doesn’t think in terms of a clash of civilizations or Islam versus the West. She doesn’t see unfair mainstream media portrayal of Muslim men and women, invasions and wars waged in predominantly Muslim countries, and the legitimization of oppressive action against Muslim immigrant communities throughout the West as evidence of one global ideological conflict. The only struggle that is real to Nishat is her own family’s struggle. If she...

  10. EPILOGUE
    (pp. 262-264)

    In 2006, Sharif’s professional and personal ambitions finally came together, and for the first time in a long time, he was completely happy with his life in London. He was in the center of an active and increasingly visible British Arab lobby, was writing and speaking out on the issues that moved him more than ever before, and was able to support himself by pursuing his passions. Arab Media Watch, recovering from having its Web site hacked, was enjoying growing fame and success in its efforts, and had joined in fruitful partnerships with both British- and Arab-led lobbying bodies that...

  11. CHARACTERS
    (pp. 265-266)
  12. PRONUNCIATION OF CHARACTERS’ NAMES
    (pp. 267-268)
  13. SOURCES
    (pp. 269-276)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 277-284)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 285-286)