I sometimes worry that by teaching literature and cultural history in a university largely populated by students who will do okay in life regardless of what they get out of their college educations, I’m not doing anything meaningful in my own life.
And then elected representatives say things like this:
“The refugees [sic] we should be scrutinizing most is the one who professes the muslim [sic] faith. Unless I’m mistaken, a practicing muslim [sic] can do whatever is necessary for the ‘good’ of the faith — telling ‘fibs’ is a smallpart [sic] of what they might do. And from what I’ve seen, a practicing muslim [sic] comes in all flavors (black, white, brown, yellow — American, African, European, etc. etc.). A ‘white’ lie could allow an individual to pass through the vetting process.”
And I am reminded that I can, once in a while, deploy my expertise for the public good.
So, Representative Moon, let me tell you that your information about Islam and Muslims is, in fact, incorrect. If you are interested in having a discussion about the possibility of accepting Muslim refugees that is based in a more accurate understanding of the many different ways they practice their faith (a different thing, rather, than suggesting that they can hide nefariously in any population because they “come in all flavors” — incidentally, are you a cannibal, sir? — with thinly disguised racialized rhetoric about the danger of “‘white’ lies”) I could suggest the following:
General introductions to Islam:
Allen, Roger and Shawkat Toorawa, eds. Islam: A Short Guide to the Faith. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2011.
Endress, Gerhard. An Introduction to Islam. Columbia: UP, 1988.
Ruthven, Malise. Islam: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: UP, 2012.
Popular and accessible scholarly books on aspects of Islam and Islamic history:
Aslan, Reza. No god but God. New York: Random House, 2011.
Bennison, Amira. The Great Caliphs. New Haven: Yale UP, 2010.
Berkey, Jonathan. The Formation of Islam. Cambridge: UP, 2002.
Bowering, Gerhard. Islamic Political Thought. Princeton: UP, 2015.
Cook, Michael. Ancient Religions, Modern Politics. Princeton: UP, 2014.
Donner, Fred. Muhammad and the Believers. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 2010.
Ghanea Bassiri, Kambiz. A History of Islam in America. Cambridge: UP, 2010.
Hoyland, Robert. In God’s Path: The Arab Conquests and the Creation of the Islamic Empire. Oxford: UP, 2014.
Kennedy, Hugh. Muslim Spain and Portugal. New York: Routledge, 1996.
—. The Prophet and the Age of the Caliphate. New York: Routledge, 2004.
Lewis, David Levering. God’s Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe. New York: Norton, 2009 reprint.
More specific and technical scholarly studies, with attention to race, ethnic identity, religion-and-state issues, and dissimulation:*
Crone, Patricia. God’s Rule: Government and Islam. New York: Columbia UP, 2005.
Daftary, Farhad. “Religious Identity, Dissimulation, and Assimilation,” in Living Islamic History, ed. Yasir Suleiman. Edinburgh: UP, 2010. 47-60.
García-Arenal, Mercedes, et al. “Taqiyya: Legal Dissimulation,” special issue of Al-Qantara 34:2 (2013).
Gordon, Cyrus. “The Substratum of Taqiyya in Iran,” Journal of the American Oriental Society 97:2 (1977: 192 and ff.
Kohlberg, Etan. A Medieval Muslim Scholar at Work. Leiden: Brill, 1992.
Lassner, Jacob. Islamic Revolution and Historical Memory. New Haven: American Oriental Society, 1986.
Lewis, Bernard. Race and Slavery in the Middle East. Oxford: UP, 1992.
Miller, Kathryn. Guardians of Islam: Religious Authority and Muslim Communities of Late Medieval Spain. New York: Columbia UP, 2008.
Monroe, James T. The Shu’ubiyya in al-Andalus. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1970.
Mottahedeh, Roy P. “The Shu’ubiyyah Controversy and the Social History of Early Islamic Iran,” Journal of Middle East Studies 7 (1956) 161-82.
Perry, Mary Elizabeth. “Morisco Stories and the Complexities of Resistance and Assimilation,” in The Conversos and Moriscos in Late Medieval Spain and Beyond, ed. Kevin Ingram. Leiden: Brill, 2012. 161-85.
Ruggles, D.F. “Mothers of a Hybrid Dynasty: Race, Genealogy and Acculturation in al-Andalus,” Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies 34:1 (2004): 65-94.
*I’m pulling this together on the fly, about to run off to an evening lecture. It is quite incomplete so far. I will try to add more later, but it would also be fantastic if readers wanted to add additional references in the comments section. The more minds the merrier, and we could put together a really useful resource, if not for the closed-minded legislators who are likely not to care, but for our fellow citizens who are not specialists and might be looking for information they can trust as they try to sort through all of the rhetoric.
**ETA 11:30pm: I’ve added some more references but this is still far from comprehensive. Because of my own area of expertise, this list tilts heavily medieval and heavily Spain (and is still very selective even within those two categories). I’d still love it if other scholars were willing to contribute to this bibliography from their own intellectual points of view. Please leave other suggestions in the comments.