Twenty-seven-year-old G. Willow Wilson has already established herself as an accomplished writer on modern religion and the Middle East in publications such as The Atlantic Monthly and The New York Times Magazine. In her memoir, the Colorado-raised journalist tells her remarkable story of converting to Islam and falling in love with an Egyptian man in a turbulent post–9/11 world.
When Willow leaves her atheist parents in Denver to study at Boston University, she enrolls in an Islamic Studies course, hopeful that it will help her to understand her inchoate spirituality. As she reads through the teachings and events of the Quran, Willow is astounded and comforted by how deeply this fourteen-hundred-year-old document speaks to who she is, and decides to risk everything to convert to Islam and embark on a fated journey across continents and into an uncertain future.
She settles in Cairo where she teaches English and attempts to submerge herself in a culture based on her adopted religion. And then she meets Omar, a passionate young man with a mild resentment of the Western influences in his homeland. They fall in love, entering into a daring relationship that calls into question the very nature of family, belief, and tradition. Torn between the secular West and Muslim East, Willow—identifiably Western with her shock of red hair, shaky Arabic, and candor—records her intensely personal struggle to forge a “third culture” that might accommodate her own values without compromising them or the friends and family on both sides of the divide.
Part travelogue, love story, and memoir, The Butterfly Mosque is a brave, inspiring story of faith—in God, in each other, in ourselves, and in the ability of relationships to transcend cultural barriers and exist above the evils that threaten to keep us apart.