The Qur’an

“The Qur’an in Muslim American Life: Studying, Embodying, and Living with the Word of God”

by Muna Ali

Chapter Summary

Muna Ali explores the Arizona-based Qur’an Academy, the Institute of Islamic Education in Chicago, the Texas-based Bayyinah Dream, and many other sites to learn about the Qur’an in Muslim American life. Ali helps us hear the melodic recitation of this sacred scripture, and she reveals how religious congregations and Sunday school classes teach about and interpret the Qur’an. In the last half of her chapter, Ali shows how the Qur’an’s place in U.S. society is a barometer of interfaith relationships as well as intra-Muslim divisions along lines of gender, race, and sectarian affiliation.

Discussion Questions

  • How do Muslim American learn about the Qur’an? Where? What topics do they study? Why is studying the Qur’an so important?
  • How do different approaches to the Qur’an reveal the function of gender, racial, and sectarian differences among Muslim Americans?
  • How do Muslim American engagements with the Qur’an act as a barometer for interfaith relations?

Group Exercises

  • In Virginia, schools received threats after one teacher attempted to teach her geography class about Islam and Arabic calligraphy. Read a 2015 New York Times story,  “Lesson on Islam Shuts Down Virginia School District,” about this incident, and then hold a discussion on whether you think the assignment that caused the problem was appropriate for a high school geography class.
  • Listen to the YouTube recitation by Northwestern University Associate Chaplain Tahera Ahmad of the first chapter of the Qur’an above (0:00 – 0:43) and/or find a recitation of another qur’anic sura online, look up the English translation, and discuss whether or not listening to the recitation changed its meaning for you.

Muna Ali (Ph.D., Arizona State) is an expert in Muslim American studies and a full-time instructor of physical therapy at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is the author of several refereed articles and is currently working on her first book about Muslim American youth.