The Butterfly Mosque

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Essay # 1 on: “The Butterfly Mosque” by G. Willow Wilson In G. Willow Wilson’s The Butterfly Mosque, Wilson presents her personal experience as a young American Muslim woman coming to terms with an understanding of her as she navigates evolving concepts of religion, cross-cultural dynamics, and womanhood while she pursues a romantic relationship. Wilson explores both the negative and positive aspects of a conversion to Islam and ensuing efforts to reconcile Eastern and Western beliefs, the inaccurate portrayals of Muslims in the media and public discourse, the role of women in Islamic society, and cultivating a healthy, romantic relationship in an Islamic context. In portraying both positive and negative aspects throughout her memoir, Wilson presents an affirmative appraisal of an American Muslim woman’s relationship with Islam. Wilson’s prose is fluid and beautifully describes the nuances of everyday life she experiences while in Egypt. For example, as she elucidates her experience in a cross-cultural relationship with an Egyptian man, Omar, she has the following insight: Cultural habits are by and large irrational, emerge irrationally, and are practiced irrationally. They are independent of the intellect, and trying to fit them into a logical pattern is fruitless; they can be respected or discarded, but not debated…Culture belongs to the imagination; to judge it rationally is to misunderstand its function. (66) While Wilson presents a positive appraisal of her life’s experiences with faith and love, she does not hesitate to share her anxieties regarding her conversion to Islam or her relationship with Omar. On her conversion, Wilson describes the “shame” she feels towards her conversion as a result of her non-religious upbringing: “Religion was taboo in my family, and Islam was taboo in my society—these pressures are not easily shaken off, and I sometimes

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