Generation M: Young Muslims Changing the World by Shelina Janmohamed

generation m

Rating: ★★★★

Genre: Nonfiction

Medium: Paperback

Synopsis: By the same author who wrote Love in a Headscarf, Generation M details many vivid, authentic, and global accounts of what it means to be young and Muslim today.  Janmohamed researches and discusses a handful of topics with millennial Muslims, and dissects what it truly means to be Muslim and modern.  How does faith interact with consumerism?  How does the internet affect the ummah?  What do Muslim women think about the war going on over their bodies?  What do Muslims consider halal, and how do they know it’s halal?  These are just some of the questions explored by Janmohamed and the multiple Muslims she’s spoken with.

Review: Before I get started on my review, I have to tell you that my review is going to be affected by 2 things: 1) I’m white, and 2) I’m not Muslim.  So, while this affects my reading of this book, I’d also take a look and see what Muslims have said in order to get a full feel for this book, and whether you should read it or not.  That being said, I was thoroughly impressed by this book.  I originally bought this book in London, at the ALEF bookstore (which is next to 221B Baker Street!), and decided on a whim that I needed to broaden my book horizons.  What better way to do that than read a book on something I know next to nothing about?

I’m really glad that Generation M was the first book about Muslims that I read.  It was very general, very global, (often citing the general millennial Muslims as the titular Generation M) which is perfect for somebody who needs a crash course on what it means to be Muslim.  And, what makes it truly perfect for somebody who doesn’t know much on this topic is that at the end, there’s a little glossary, as well as citations and additional readings.

This book stimulated my subconscious–some things that are mentioned were things that I already vaguely knew, but never really put at the forefront of my mind, such as the fact that “more than one-third of today’s Muslims are under 15, and nearly two-thirds are under 30.  That means they have spent most or all of their live sunder shadow of 11 September 2001.”  I knew that Muslims’ lives had been seriously and negatively affected since since 9/11, especially those my own age, but having Janmohamed precisely and explicitly state this fact blew my mind–and that was only at the introduction of the book.

From there, she discusses a huge array of topics, such as what makes halal products halal, how the digital world has affected Muslims, the tie between faith and music, the relationship between faith and fashion, as well as business, advertising, and accountability.  Before reading this book, there were probably 3 things that I could vaguely discuss about Muslims, and that’d be the debate around headscarves (as well as niqabs and burqas), stereotyping, and Daesh.  Let’s get real–that’s not a lot by any means.  And, they’re fairly overused and stale topics (they’re still extremely important, don’t get me wrong!).  But now, thanks to this book, I know so much more about faith, ummah, and ethics.

In all honesty, this book has only bettered me as a person and my mind.  It’s helped to debunk stereotypes, it’s added to my vocabulary, and I have an entirely new layer of understanding.  In my opinion, that’s a successful book if I ever saw one.  I think that this should be required reading for most, if not all, white people.  I’ve learned so much from it, and I know quite a few others who would do well to learn from it as well.

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