Threading My Prayer Rug: One Woman's Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim

Threading My Prayer Rug: One Woman's Journey from Pakistani Muslim to American Muslim

by Sabeeha Rehman

Paperback(1st Edition)

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A 2019 United Methodist Women Reading Program Selection

This enthralling story of the making of an American is a timely meditation on being Muslim in America today. Threading My Prayer Rug is a richly textured reflection. It is also the luminous story of many journeys: from Pakistan to the United States in an arranged marriage that becomes a love match lasting forty-five years; from secular Muslim in an Islamic society to devout Muslim in a society ignorant of Islam, and from liberal to conservative to American Muslim; from bride to mother; and from an immigrant intending to stay two years to an American citizen, business executive, grandmother, and tireless advocate for interfaith understanding.

Beginning with a sweetly funny, moving account of her arranged marriage, the author undercuts stereotypes and offers the refreshing view of an American life through Muslim eyes. Sabeeha was doing interfaith work for Imam Feisal A. Rauf, the driving force behind the Muslim community center near Ground Zero, when the backlash began. She recounts what that experience revealed about American society and in a new preface discusses Islam in America in the time of Trump.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781628728620
Publisher: Arcade
Publication date: 09/19/2017
Edition description: 1st Edition
Pages: 360
Sales rank: 276,898
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Sabeeha Rehman was born and raised in Pakistan. She came to the United States in 1971 after a hurried arranged marriage to a Pakistani doctor in New York. With a bachelor’s degree in Home Economics, she settled into the life of a homemaker. Once both her sons were enrolled full-time in school, she went back to college to get her masters in healthcare administration and began her twenty-five-year career as a hospital executive. Her career spanned hospitals in New York, New Jersey, and Saudi Arabia.

Raising children Muslim in the absence of a Muslim community was a daunting challenge. In the early 1980s, she and her husband began the work of establishing a Muslim community on Staten Island, where they were living at the time. Their efforts culminated in the building of a mosque.

Ms. Rehman has spent the last several decades in engaging in interfaith dialogue with faith communities. She served as the director of interfaith programs at the American Society for Muslim Advancement and as the chief operating officer at the Cordoba Initiative, a multifaith organization dedicated to building bridges between Muslims and the West. She is active on the interfaith circuit, raising awareness of Islam, and Muslims in America.

When her grandson was diagnosed with autism, she left her career and cofounded the New York Metro Chapter of the National Autism Association, and served as its first president.

Her memoir, Threading My Prayer Rug, received Honorable Mention in Spirituality in the San Francisco Book Festival Awards of 2017. It was listed as a Top 10 Religion and Spirituality Book of 2016 and a Top 10 Diverse Nonfiction Books of 2017 by Booklist. She has contributed op-eds to the Wall Street Journal, and she blogs on topics related to American Muslim and Pakistani immigrant experience at

She lives in New York City with her husband Khalid, a retired hematologist/oncologist

Table of Contents

Preface to the Paperback Edition ix

Prologue Not a Mosque, and Not at Ground Zero 1

Part 1 An Arranged Marriage in Pakistan

1 It's Arranged 11

2 I Never Said, "I Do": The Marriage Contract 44

3 A Silver Watch: My Splendid Pakistani Wedding 55

4 Marital Advice 62

Part 2 A Pakistani Muslim in New York

5 A Pakistani Bride in New York: "I Wouldn't Do That If I Were You" 67

6 Where Are You From? 75

7 A Muslim Girl in New York: A Holiday Muslim 81

8 Pakistani Pregnancy, American Delivery: A Baptism of Sorts, Plus a Circumcision 87

9 Ramadan without Ramadan: Why I Stopped Fasting 94

10 The Christmas-ization of Eid 98

11 A Muslim among Orthodox Jews 101

12 The Americanization of Yours Truly 105

Part 3 Creating a Muslim Space

13 Where Do I Begin? 119

14 Building a Muslim Community 124

15 A Muslim Sunday School and a Mosque 129

Part 4 Rediscovering Islam: Religion or Culture?

16 Born-Again Muslim 141

17 Lower Your Gaze 164

18 Pakistani Islam or a Hybrid? 167

19 Moon Sighting 179

20 Tradition versus Women's Rights 185

21 My Brand of Islam 191

22 Abraham's Sacrifice 196

23 Grounded in Roots 199

Part 5 An American Muslim in New York

24 An Arranged Marriage for My Sons? 213

25 The Shia-Sunni Schism 242

26 Don't Ghetto-ize Islam 249

27 Flashpoints 264

28 And Then Nothing Was the Same: September 11, 2001 280

29 Extremism and Islamophobia: Viewed from the Eyes of a Muslim 286

30 Upgrading Islam into the Twenty-First Century 292

31 An American Muslim in Pakistan 295

32 An American Muslim in New York 309

Acknowledgments 315

Glossary 317

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