The Butterfly Mosque
G. Willow Wilson, was raised in a tolerant, secular family. While an undergraduate at Boston University she took an Islamic Studies course and found herself moved by the Islamic faith. When she graduated, she took a teaching job in Cairo, Egypt to satisfy her interest in the language, culture, and Islam. She embarked on this journey just a couple years post 9/11. She expected to stay only one year and even thought that she would have to force herself to stick with it. Instead, she fell in love with the culture, Islam, and a young Sufi named Omar, and as a result, she stayed much longer than a year, converted to Islam, and married Omar. During that time she endeavored to understand and integrate herself into a culture that was very different from her upbringing. She worked both to reconcile the cultural and religious differences and to educate people in the West about the beauty that she saw in Egypt and the greater Middle East. Both American and Egyptian cultures have a place in her open and accepting heart. This brilliant woman has spent the last 16 years writing and speaking about the similarities and differences between these two cultures and spreading the word that Americans and Muslim Egyptians harbor many misconceptions about each other that only serve to separate two peoples who she has shown can respect each other’s choices and lifestyles and even become friends. In this book she explains, based on her own experiences in Egypt engaging with her new family and their culture, the mistakes that westerners make when they come to the Egypt (and other Middle Eastern countries). I was deeply touched by her descriptions of the many times in Cairo that she felt protected and cared for by, not just her husband’s family, but complete strangers on the street, at the mosques, and in the markets. Wilson embraces and balances her Muslim faith, Egyptian society, and her American upbringing. In this way she goes way beyond mere tolerance, to acceptance and love.