Pamela J. Prickett, "Believing in South Central: Everyday Islam in the City of Angels" (U Chicago Press, 2021)

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Believing in South Central: Everyday Islam in the City of Angels (University of Chicago Press, 2021) by Pamela J. Prickett is an ethnographic study of an African American Muslim community in South Central Los Angeles. The accessible study follows the believers of Masjid al-Quran (MAQ) as they live their Islam in and around the mosque community, such as during prayers or Ramadan, but also while conducting business or interacting with one another. Masjid al-Quran’s institutional history dates back to the Nation of Islam, which then later transitioned to Sunni Islam through the leadership of W. D. Mohammad. MAQ is also located in South Central, a community that has changed demographically and socio-economically overtime. Embedded in this complex urban geography, Prickett's study masterfully illuminates the deep entanglements of class, race, and gender in the defining of faith and ritual for members of MAQ. The study interrogates tenuous realities of giving and receiving charity, the intricate agentic Muslim expressions of African American femininity and womanhood, and the positionality of African American Muslims and diasporic Muslim Americans. This book is also a stunning ethnography. It is attentive to many methodological concerns of positionality, access, and immersive fieldwork, but it is also a story of friendship, love, and loss. This book will be of interest to those who think and reflect on Islam in America, African American Islam, and race, gender, class, and lived religion, but it will also be a productive text to incorporate into methods courses, especially on ethnography.

Shobhana Xavier is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Queen’s University. More details about her research and scholarship may be found here and here. She may be reached at shobhana.xavier@queensu.ca. You can follow her on Twitter via @shobhanaxavier.

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