- When Asma Hasan was majoring in religion and American studies at Wellesley, she decided she wanted to read more about Islam, especially about American Muslims like herself.
Most of what she found was in magazines, which described a group of people she barely recognized, living isolated in enclaves.
''It was really patronizing,'' says Hasan, 28, a ''Muslim feminist cowgirl'' who grew up in Colorado playing Pac-Man and listening to The Go-Gos. She's now a first-year associate at a San Francisco law firm.
To set the record straight, she wrote her own book about the Muslim community in the USA, offering an insider's view of its history and inner dynamics, from Pakistani immigrants such as her parents (her dad's a physician) to black converts and others who identify with Islam. She weaves her own story into the narrative.
''I certainly don't think every Muslim has had a life like mine,'' says Hasan, who attended Catholic school in Colorado and has a slight Boston accent from years attending boarding school and college in Massachusetts. ''I was trying to present my story of growing up as a Muslim. I wanted people to get a sense of the normalcy of my life.''
American Muslims: The New Generation, was published in 2000. But it has found a growing mainstream audience since last year's terrorist attacks, when the nation's attention became riveted on the Muslim world.
....''People like me, who grew up here, sometimes chafe under some immigrant attitudes,'' she says. For example, traditionalists criticize modern Muslim women for shaking hands with men and not wearing the traditional headscarf, or hijab. Hasan makes much of the hijab, worn for reasons of modesty. Echoing many modern Muslim women, she argues that such covering should not be compulsory, that each woman should decide for herself whether she wishes to wear it. ''The veil has become some kind of litmus test,'' Hasan says. ''I've done so much, but I will never measure up because I don't wear a headscarf.''