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Synopsis

For years, the image of the Muslim woman in America has been clouded with secrecy, as mysterious as the face behind the veil. Is she garbed in the traditional hijab and chador? Is she subservient to a male-dominated culture and religion, with few rights and little freedom? Does she grocery shop, do her nails, go to college, have sex? Who are these women?

In this extraordinary and moving book, journalist Donna Gehrke-White provides a rare, revealing look into the hearts, minds, and everyday lives of Muslim women in Americaâ€"a fast-rising populationâ€"and opens a window on a culture as diverse as it is misunderstood. Here, in their own words, are the many different voices of doctors, soccer moms, rebels, reformers, former political prisoners, survivors, activistsâ€"women of faith, courage, hope, and changeâ€"all Muslims, all Americans.

There are women like Sahar Shaikh, who grew up on Girl Scouts and rock and roll in suburban Miami but felt that something was missing from her life until she took up the veil and returned to her spiritual roots; like Zainab Elberry, an Egyptian activist insurance executive in Nashville who sees no need for the hijab and no conflict between her feminism and her Muslim beliefs. We meet Cathy Drake, a convert from Virginia who could be the perfect Republican red-state mom, home-schooling her kids and driving a minivan, except that Cathy wears the traditional scarf and converted to Islam after 9/11. There's Salma Syed, who escaped the religious intolerance, terror, and violence of her Indian homeland to find peace and security in the American suburbs. And there are pioneers like Sarah Eltantawi, who are trying to advance women's rights in the mosque, and W. L. Cati, a once obedient housewife who left both her abusive husband and her faith in order to help other women escape similar fates.

Candid, moving, fascinating, and ultimately inspiring, The Face Behind the Veil is a remarkable chronicle of identity and faith, a celebration of women who are changing the face of America and Islam, even as America influences who they are and what they believe.

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