Review—The New Muslim’s Field Guide by Theresa Corbin and Kaighla Um Dayo

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Theresa Corbin and Kaighla Um Dayo have written the book they wish they had when they converted to Islam. Drawing on decades of experience and focusing on practical advice rather than information-dumping, The New Muslim’s Field Guide discusses the major issues a new convert to Islam will have to contend with in a fun and friendly way.

Written in a conversational tone, with lots of humor and real talk, this book is for both new brothers and new sisters.

The guide begins in a great place; the first two chapters talk about culture and remind converts that becoming Muslim does not mean that they have to stop being themselves. Islam is something that enhances who you are; becoming Muslim doesn’t mean starting from zero in terms of your life, your experiences, and your personality.

Like the first two chapters, most of the other chapters are practical ones: should you change your name? How should you deal with your non-Muslim family? What do you need to know about hijab, and what should you know about going to the masjid? There are only two information-heavy chapters: one on the six pillars of faith and one on the five pillars of action.

There is also a chapter about sex and marriage and then chapters for sisters and brothers about marriage. An example of the practicality of this book is the fabulous list of deal breakers in this section. Corbin and Um Dayo offer a list of people a new convert should not consider marrying, including someone who “drinks alcohol and parties” or conversely, someone who “is religiously harsh and demands you become perfect overnight.” These are just two examples; the list is long, and warns against pitfalls that many people fall into in an easy-to-navigate list.

Each chapter also includes sections where Um Dayo or Corbin tell a story from their own personal experience. These sections are a fun break in the text and either show their advice in action or demonstrate first hand the importance of that advice.

This book is full of useful information, but it is more interested in being a tool of support and encouragement than necessarily throwing tons of information at new converts. 

Verdict: I intend to buy lots of copies of this book to keep on hand for converts I meet and to stock masjids and community centers. I highly recommend it for converts to Islam and for heritage Muslims who grew up not practicing and want to begin. This is a book that you can feel good about handing to both people you know well and strangers. It is well-written and articulately provides support for those wanting to commit themselves to a moderate Islam.

The New Muslim’s Field Guide was published in 2018, and you can get a copy here.

Thank you to the authors for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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