home books bio writings appearances contact
 
 
 
 
 

 
““This is a wonderful book about Islam – knowledgeable, approachable, and inspiring. By telling the simple truth about the strength she gains from her faith, Sumbul Ali-Karamali brings to life how being a better Muslim helps her be a better American.”

-- Eboo Patel
Founder and President of the Interfaith Youth Core and author of Sacred Ground
 
 
“The perfect guide for the young person trying to figure out what it means to be a Muslim in this day and age.”

-- Reza Aslan
Author of No god but God
 
 
“Sensible, accurate, and engaging – a much-needed corrective to ignorance and misinformation about Islam and Muslims.”

-- Kecia Ali
Professor of Religion and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Boston University
 
 
“The author offers an exceptional introduction to Islam by demonstrating the diversity among Muslim practices and beliefs. As the author demonstrates repeatedly, Muslims share a common set of reference points that they use to orient their attitudes and actions, but they interpret these through various cultural and community lenses, just as Jews and Christians do.”

– Peter Gottschalk
Professor of Religion, Wesleyan University and coauthor of Islamophobia
 
 
“Growing Up Muslim is a must-have for all school libraries. The book is informative, yet written in a fun, energetic way, with personal experiences and viewpoints. I highly recommend this book.”

-- Peter Doering
Supervisor of Library Services, Santa Clara County Office of Education
 
 
“Every kid of any religion could use a wise but not preachy Gandalf or Dumbledore. Sumbul Ali-Karamali is smart, hip, and funny and does not settle for being holier-than-thou. I most enthusiastically recommend Growing Up Muslim as an accessible but never simplistic resource on Islam for all young people, whatever their religion.”

--Omid Safi
Professor of Religion, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
 
 
“Sumbul Ali-Karamali’s book is bound to captivate young audiences seeking reliable and nuanced answers about living life as a committed Muslim in the U.S. and elsewhere. This is a truly unique work that is enthusiastically recommended!”

Asma Afsaruddin
Chair and Professor, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, Indiana University.
 
 
“This book provides a straightforward introduction to Muslim thought, but more importantly Muslims. The joys and struggles of being Muslim are clearly expressed, and the varieties of Muslim experiences are on display. A wonderful educational resource, it is sure to be a welcome complement to existing curricula, or even as a primary text. Ms. Ali-Karamali has done a great service for educators.”

– Hussein Rashid
Visiting Professor of Religion, Hofstra University
 
 
“An American lawyer with a further degree in Islamic law, Ali-Karamali offers young readers an accessible introduction to Islam and to Muslim cultures, written in an easygoing style occasionally sparked with humor. Moving from the outside in, the author begins with the customs that make Muslims seem “different” (food and fasting, daily prayer, dress and head-coverings) to nonpractitioners, drawing helpfully on her own background growing up in Southern California, the daughter of Muslim Indian immigrants. The explanations of rules and practices allow Ali-Karamali to move deeper into her subject, and they lead naturally into good summations of Muhammad’s life and beliefs and the subsequent spread of the religion he began. Throughout the book, there is an insistent theme of the plurality of Muslim expression (“there is no particular kind of clothing that I must wear to be Muslim or that Islam says I must wear”) and of the distinctions between the universals of the faith (the Five Pillars of Islam) and the many varieties interpretation and adherence can take. With a balance of facts, personal experience, and thoughtful discussion, this introduction to the world’s second-largest faith will serve for both personal reading and school research. Helpful notes, a lengthy bibliography, and an index are appended.”

-- The Horn Book
 
 
“Ali-Karamali—practicing Muslim, mother, and Islamic law expert—adapts many of the concepts she explained in her well-received The Muslim Next Door: The Qur’an, the Media, and That Veil Thing (2008), for a middle-grade audience. Citing anecdotes from her own childhood, such as when she unknowingly ate pork at school, Ali-Karamali lays out the basics, including fasting during the month of Ramadan; the required five-times-a-day prayer; and some of the intricacies of the Islamic religion. She is equitable in describing varying Muslim interpretations and observance levels (for instance, whether eating marshmallows, which could contain gelatin made from pigs, is haram, or impermissible). Muslim and non-Muslim children alike will enjoy trying out the Ramadan recipes, and adult readers may also benefit from the quick and informative read....”

-- Publishers Weekly
 
 
“Ali-Karamali’s primer offers an informal, highly personal introduction to Islam. Chronicling her experience growing up Muslim in California, she comfortably discusses major aspects of the faith such as prayer, fasting, and theology as well as food, fashion, and relationships, while connecting these topics to her daily life. The relaxed presentation makes the information more interesting and accessible to readers who would otherwise find it difficult to follow. The writing flows smoothly as if in conversation, making it understandable and appealing. However, the informality does not detract from the accuracy. A few diagrams and a select, scholarly list for further reading are included. This unique introduction is a good choice for dispelling misconceptions and prejudice about this faith, and will appeal to readers of human-interest stories.”

-- School Library Journal
 
 
“With an appealing organizational approach, Ali-Karamali dives right in to the discussion of her faith, starting with the matters of food and dress and prayer rugs and fasting that are most likely to mark young Muslims as “other” among their Judeo-Christian agemates. Just beyond the religious debate over halal marshmallows and getting sleepy at school during Ramadan, though, lies a substantive introduction to the Five Pillars of Islam, around which Part I is subtly organized. Part II focuses on the Prophet Muhammad, the development and spread of Islam, and the foundational religious documents— the Qur’an, the Sunnah, and the Shariah. Part III discusses contemporary Muslim demographics, sorting through differences between sects that are regularly mentioned in the news, the relationship between Islam and Nation of Islam, and the differences between religious, cultural, and political practices within Muslim majority nations. Ali-Karamali, an Indian-American, clearly positions herself here as a devout and progressive Muslim, respectfully delineating other points of view and acknowledging their validity, but she draws a line at views on violence and oppression that she staunchly denotes as anti-Islamic. Chapter headings and an index allow readers to navigate easily toward any topic of personal interest, and Ali- Karamali’s conversational writing style makes this an accessible introduction for middle-schoolers to a somewhat complicated subject. Chapter notes and an extensive bibliography are also included. “

-- The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
 
 
 
 
s