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A Muslim in Victorian America [electronic resource] : the life of Alexander Russell Webb /
Umar F. Abd-Allah.
imprint
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, c2006.
description
ix, 388 p. : ill., map ; 25 cm.
ISBN
0195187288 (cloth : alk. paper), 9780195187281
format(s)
Book
More Details
imprint
Oxford ; New York : Oxford University Press, c2006.
isbn
0195187288 (cloth : alk. paper)
9780195187281
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
8002839
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [345]-363) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2007-04-01:
"Mohamed" Alexander Russell Webb's biography is an engaging story, which is particularly pertinent in the early 21st century. A native-born American of the 19th century, he converted of his own volition to Islam, and then sought to encourage his countrymen similarly to seek religious fulfillment. In this well-written book, Abd-Allah attempts to develop three interrelated themes: a detailed chronicle of Webb's intriguing life; an interpretation of his conversion to Islam and subsequent missionary activity; and the placement of both within the context of the Victorian-era US. Abd-Allah succeeds in the first two endeavors, but the last could have been developed more fully. He too often establishes Webb's presence in a place and time that he discusses in some detail, but does not--perhaps due to a lack of sources--explicitly connect the protagonist to his milieu. Except for some general analysis of this type in the conclusion, readers too often must draw their own conclusions as to why Webb made particular life choices. Still, today, at a time when Americans must confront a growing Islamic population in their midst, this telling of Webb's story makes clear that Islam is, and long has been, as "American" as any other religion. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All academic libraries and other interested readers. R. F. Zeidel University of Wisconsin--Stout
Reviews
Review Quotes
Abd-Allah provides readers with a treasure in this narrative . It is acessible, memorable in its wit, and instructive. This text is a must-read.
Abd-Allah's work is a unique type of American studies in which the majority society is represented in the mirror of gradual emergence of native minority society - Native American Muslim. However, this book is a leading reflection of Victorian America in all its typical natures - cultural and educational as well as political and economic elements.
"A prodigious study of one of the most important early American Muslims. Webb's tour acoss the Islamic world is captivating, and his interpretation of the faith provides a model for contemporary Islamic thought." --Jane I. Smith, author of Islam in America
"A remarkable biography of the intriguing Alexander Russell Webb, one ofthe earliest American converts to Islam. Webb's efforts to plant Islam in theUnited States are placed in the historical context of his New York upbringing,the religious developments in Victorian America, and his travels in the Muslimworld." --Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, co-author of Muslim Women in America
"A remarkable biography of the intriguing Alexander Russell Webb, one of the earliest American converts to Islam. Webb's efforts to plant Islam in the United States are placed in the historical context of his New York upbringing, the religious developments in Victorian America, and his travelsin the Muslim world." --Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, co-author of Muslim Women in America
"Fascinating for all Muslims and all Americans." --The Muslim World Book Review
"Given our current lack of solid information about the place of Islam in American religious history, Abd-Allah's scholarly work is really quite valuable." --H-Net
His research provides a 'sound beginning' that enables a judicious reappraisal of the few other published accounts of Webb.
"In this timely and engaging book, Umar Abd-Allah brings to life an important, but little-known figure in Victorian America. In an illuminating story of Alexander Webb, Abd-Allah shows how he navigated life as a prominent Muslim and an American with relative ease and without resistance frommainstream society. This work is an important lesson, not only for history buffs but for anyone interested in understanding contemporary times." --Geneive Abdo, author of Mecca and Main Street: Muslim Life in America After 9/11
"In this timely and engaging book, Umar Abd-Allah brings to life an important, but little-known figure in Victorian America. In an illuminating story of Alexander Webb, Abd-Allah shows how he navigated life as a prominent Muslim and an American with relative ease and without resistance from mainstream society. This work is an important lesson, not only for history buffs but for anyone interested in understanding contemporary times." --Geneive Abdo, author of Mecca and Main Street: Muslim Life in America After 9/11 "A remarkable biography of the intriguing Alexander Russell Webb, one of the earliest American converts to Islam. Webb's efforts to plant Islam in the United States are placed in the historical context of his New York upbringing, the religious developments in Victorian America, and his travels in the Muslim world." --Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, co-author of Muslim Women in America "A prodigious study of one of the most important early American Muslims. Webb's tour acoss the Islamic world is captivating, and his interpretation of the faith provides a model for contemporary Islamic thought." --Jane I. Smith, author of Islam in America
"In this timely and engaging book, Umar Abd-Allah brings to life an important, but little-known figure in Victorian America. In an illuminating story of Alexander Webb, Abd-Allah shows how he navigated life as a prominent Muslim and an American with relative ease and without resistance from mainstream society. This work is an important lesson, not only for history buffs but for anyone interested in understanding contemporary times." --Geneive Abdo, author ofMecca and Main Street: Muslim Life in America After 9/11 "A remarkable biography of the intriguing Alexander Russell Webb, one of the earliest American converts to Islam. Webb's efforts to plant Islam in the United States are placed in the historical context of his New York upbringing, the religious developments in Victorian America, and his travels in the Muslim world." --Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, co-author ofMuslim Women in America "A prodigious study of one of the most important early American Muslims. Webb's tour acoss the Islamic world is captivating, and his interpretation of the faith provides a model for contemporary Islamic thought." --Jane I. Smith, author of Islam in America "Fascinating for all Muslims and all Americans." --The Muslim World Book Review "Given our current lack of solid information about the place of Islam in American religious history, Abd-Allah's scholarly work is really quite valuable." --H-Net "An informative biography of an important spiritual figure." --Religious Studies Review "Umar Abd-Allah's account of Webb is by far the most comprehensive...Abd-Allah's lucid and elegant prose should make the work attractive to a wide array of general readers as well as religious historians of the United States." --Journal of Religion
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, April 2007
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Summaries
Bowker Data Service Summary
Alexander Russell Webb (1846-1916) was a central figure in the early history of Islam in America. He wrote numerous books intended to introduce Islam to Americans, and served as the representative of Islam at the 1893 Worlds Parliament of Religions in Chicago. This is a biography of Webbs' life.
Long Description
In this first-ever biography of Alexander Russell Webb, Umar F. Abd-Allah examines Webb's life and uses it as a window through which to explore the early history of Islam in America. Except for his adopted faith, every aspect of Webb's life was, as Abd-Allah shows, quintessentially characteristic of his place and time. It was because he was so typically American that he was able to serve as Islam's ambassador to America (and vice versa). As America's Muslim community grows andbecomes more visible, Webb's life and the virtues he championed - pluralism, liberalism, universal humanity, and a sense of civic and political responsibility - exemplify what it means to be an American Muslim.
Main Description
Conflicts and controversies at home and abroad have led Americans to focus on Islam more than ever before. In addition, more and more of their neighbors, colleagues, and friends are Muslims. While much has been written about contemporary American Islam and pioneering studies have appeared on Muslim slaves in the antebellum period, comparatively little is known about Islam in Victorian America. This biography of Alexander Russell Webb, one of the earliest American Muslims to achieve public renown, seeks to fill this gap. Webb was a central figure of American Islam during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A native of the Hudson Valley, he was a journalist, editor, and civil servant. Raised a Presbyterian, Webb early on began to cultivate an interest in other religions and became particularly fascinated by Islam. While serving as U.S. consul to the Philippines in 1887, he took a greater interest in the faith and embraced it in 1888, one of the first Americans known to have done so. Within a few years, he began corresponding with important Muslims in India. Webb became an enthusiastic propagator of the faith, founding the first Islamic institution in the United States: the American Mission. He wrote numerous books intended to introduce Islam to Americans, started the first Islamic press in the United States, published a journal entitled The Moslem World, and served as the representative of Islam at the 1893 World's Parliament of Religions in Chicago. In 1901, he was appointed Honorary Turkish Consul General in New York and was invited to Turkey, where he received two Ottoman medals of merits. In this first-ever biography of Webb, Umar F. Abd-Allah examines Webb's life and uses it as a window through which to explore the early history of Islam in America. Except for his adopted faith, every aspect of Webb's life was, as Abd-Allah shows, quintessentially characteristic of his place and time. It was because he was so typically American that he was able to serve as Islam's ambassador to America (and vice versa). As America's Muslim community grows and becomes more visible, Webb's life and the virtues he championed - pluralism, liberalism, universal humanity, and a sense of civic and political responsibility - exemplify what it means to be an American Muslim.
Main Description
Conflicts and controversies at home and abroad have led Americans to focus on Islam more than ever before. In addition, more and more of their neighbors, colleagues, and friends are Muslims. While much has been written about contemporary American Islam and pioneering studies have appeared onMuslim slaves in the antebellum period, comparatively little is known about Islam in Victorian America. This biography of Alexander Russell Webb, one of the earliest American Muslims to achieve public renown, seeks to fill this gap. Webb was a central figure of American Islam during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A native of the Hudson Valley, he was a journalist, editor, and civil servant. Raised a Presbyterian, Webb early on began to cultivate an interest in other religions and became particularlyfascinated by Islam. While serving as U.S. consul to the Philippines in 1887, he took a greater interest in the faith and embraced it in 1888, one of the first Americans known to have done so. Within a few years, he began corresponding with important Muslims in India. Webb became an enthusiasticpropagator of the faith, founding the first Islamic institution in the United States: the American Mission. He wrote numerous books intended to introduce Islam to Americans, started the first Islamic press in the United States, published a journal entitled The Moslem World, and served as therepresentative of Islam at the 1893 World's Parliament of Religions in Chicago. In 1901, he was appointed Honorary Turkish Consul General in New York and was invited to Turkey, where he received two Ottoman medals of merits. In this first-ever biography of Webb, Umar F. Abd-Allah examines Webb's life and uses it as a window through which to explore the early history of Islam in America. Except for his adopted faith, every aspect of Webb's life was, as Abd-Allah shows, quintessentially characteristic of his place andtime. It was because he was so typically American that he was able to serve as Islam's ambassador to America (and vice versa). As America's Muslim community grows and becomes more visible, Webb's life and the virtues he championed - pluralism, liberalism, universal humanity, and a sense of civic andpolitical responsibility - exemplify what it means to be an American Muslim.
Table of Contents
The Yankee Mohammedanp. 3
Hudson Valley Rootsp. 21
Webb's Journey to Islamp. 47
Go West, Young Manp. 81
Diplomatic Post in the Orientp. 103
Passage to Indiap. 123
Manhattan Beginningsp. 159
Getting Out the Wordp. 181
Chicago World's Fair and First Parliament of Religionsp. 211
Mission Runs Aground and Webb's Final Yearsp. 245
Conclusion: Webb's Legacyp. 271
Notesp. 281
Bibliographyp. 345
Indexp. 365
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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