Author Interview: Dr. Navid Ghani

Author Interview: Dr. Navid Ghani

Book: Islamophobia in the United States

1. Who are you, in a nutshell?

I am a sociologist and an author. I did my doctorate at Stony Brook University New York, and I’m still continuing to write on social issues such as race and ethnic relations. In the last fifteen years, I have published 17 research papers in American and International journals. I am currently doing research on racism and how it affects society as a whole with intended and latent consequences.

2. Your latest book is entitled "Islamophobia in the United States". What is the message you want to convey to the readers?

The partial content of this book was briefly described in the paper, “The Rise of Islamophobia in the United States” published in 2018, but it was after 2019 that I began to systematically organize narratives based on several chapters. What I want to convey in this book is as follows:

Islamophobic images are fluid and vary in different contexts as Islamophobia tells us more about Islamophobic than it tells us about Islam and Muslims. There is a need for dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims so as to remove prejudice, alienation, and marginalization. I believe that social cohesion and integration encourage greater social interaction between different communities, which in turn, leads to strong social bonds and more favorable attitudes toward each other. I hope that in the present book I successfully conveyed this feeling to the audience. I also hope that instead of focusing on stereotypes and negative media narratives, we need to learn about Muslims and their religion Islam from various literature and credible sources.

3. Who is this book for?

This book is for the broader audience, such as the general public, who is interested in the topic of religion and diversity in a multicultural society. It is also for those in academia, such as graduate and undergraduate students, faculty members, departments, and researchers.

4. How long does it take you to write a book?

The topic of the book was although important, but not urgent enough that I should rush to complete the book in a short period of time. Since it was my first book, it took me three years to complete the manuscript. While this might seem like a long time, the truth is that I did not write every day. This was due to family responsibilities, a full-time job, and time that was spent reviewing the literature on Islam.

5. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

I was in New York when 9/11 happened. Shortly after, I witnessed the surge of anti-hate sentiments or Islamophobia against Muslims in the United States and globally. It was a time when the term “Islamophobia” denoted a range of negative feelings towards Muslims and their religion Islam, including hate crimes, physical and verbal assault, vandalism of mosques, and defamation of Islam in the media. In short, and particularly in the aftermath of the 2016 US presidential elections, the term Islamophobia had quickly come into general use throughout the United States in political and social discourse and made life more difficult for American Muslims. At that time, many of my American friends and colleagues talked about the concept of  “Islam vs. West,” the notion that Islam is incompatible with liberal, democratic and secular American values, and therefore Muslims do not belong to America.

This misconception about Islam made me think that writing on Islam would make an interesting subject for a book. Not only was it something that we Muslims had wondered about for years, but also the topic had never been researched in detail. I also thought it was a subject worthy of academic study.  The point here is that all you need is to be receptive to ideas that are interesting and appeal to a larger audience.  If you can develop the habit of thinking of anything that grabs your interest in the subject, whether it would make a topic for a fictional or non-fictional book, you'll find more ideas coming your way that will make the basis of your creative work.

6. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

My favorite part of the book is the concept of human rights, which were explicitly referenced by America’s Founding Fathers: George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. They viewed Muslims as potential citizens with rights and obligations no different from those of other Americans. They believed that religious freedom and respect should include every religion, including Islam, practiced in the United States. It is clear that the Founding Fathers believed in human rights and were prepared to make a place for Islam and Muslims in the new republic.

7. What would be your word of encouragement for a new author?

Motivation and interest are essential ingredients to writing. Focus on your subject and try to make your content as interesting, convincing, and entertaining as possible. It requires courage and patience. Keep in mind that you are writing for others who are interested in your narrative.