Interview: Sabeeha Rehman, Author of Threading My Prayer Rug

Last week, I had the honor of talking with Sabeeha Rehman, author of Threading My Prayer Rug: One Woman’s Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim. We read her book as part of the Red Couch Book Club (check out my discussion post) and it was a delight to ask her more questions and to dive deeper into her story.

Sabeeha’s story about finding her way as a Muslim in America is powerful. Topics we cover include the shifting views on feminism in Islam, American’s relationship and interaction with Islam over the years, and the way Sabeeha’s journey has brought her to advocacy and bridging divides between Christians, Muslims, and Jews. I hope you’ll watch our video and check out her book!

Click here to watch our conversation.

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Threading My Prayer Rug Discussion

I’m honored to be over at SheLoves Magazine, discussing one of my favorite books from the summer. Threading My Prayer Rug has made me think about my own faith through a new lens. I hope you’ll go over and join the discussion! And, check out the end of the post – there’s a fun announcement! Here’s an excerpt:

Red-Couch-Threading-My-Prayer-Rug-DiscussionAfter graduating from college, I traveled to Kathmandu, Nepal to experience a new culture while seeing if teaching was a good fit for my future. I spent my mornings teaching English to Nepali middle school students and my afternoons and evenings exploring the city with my team, which consisted of mostly non-religious folks. In fact, I was the only seriously practicing Christian.

Partway into my three months, I started really missing church and Christian community, so I ventured into the suburbs, through unmarked winding streets, until I finally found a Catholic church. The service was in Nepali, there were no pews, just cushions on the floor, and the iconography was distinctly Nepali. I went with my Catholic roommate who could interpret the liturgy and rhythm of the service. I only went once or twice but it was a much-needed reminder that worship is both culturally unique and spiritually common. While I didn’t know the language, I did know the intention and it was enough to sustain me during that time without church.

In Threading My Prayer Rug: One Woman’s Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim, Sabeeha Rehman grapples with a similar realization. Raised in Muslim-majority Pakistan, faith and culture were seamlessly intertwined. Calls to prayer rang through the city; Ramadan fasts were supported and expected; interpretations of Qur’anic laws and guidelines were seen through a Pakistani lens.

After moving to New York City in the early-1970’s as a new bride, Rehman is hit with the realization that much of her faith was experienced culturally, rather than personally. Once immersed in a non-Muslim society, she began making choices—what would her faith really look like? How would she practice Islam and embrace her new country? It’s a process that became more imperative after she had children and realized they will be raised without the cultural support she experienced in Pakistan. Becoming what she phrases, a “born-again Muslim,” Rehman and her husband gather community, build the first Mosque on Staten Island, create a vibrant Muslim community, and grapple with the reality of living out their faith as minorities. Head over to SheLoves to read the rest and join the discussion!

Have you ever lived in a minority culture to your faith? How has that impacted your spiritual practice?