MY ACCIDENTAL JIHAD

Krista Bremer

Fifteen years ago, Krista Bremer was a surfer and an aspiring journalist who dreamed of a comfortable American life of adventure, romance, and opportunity. Then, on a running trail in North Carolina, she met Ismail, sincere, passionate, kind, yet from a very different world. Raised a Muslim—one of eight siblings born in an impoverished fishing village in Libya—his faith informed his life. When she and Ismail made the decision to become a family, Krista embarked on a journey she never could have imagined, an accidental jihad: a quest for spiritual and intellectual growth that would open her mind,

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Fifteen years ago, Krista Bremer was a surfer and an aspiring journalist who dreamed of a comfortable American life of adventure, romance, and opportunity. Then, on a running trail in North Carolina, she met Ismail, sincere, passionate, kind, yet from a very different world. Raised a Muslim—one of eight siblings born in an impoverished fishing village in Libya—his faith informed his life. When she and Ismail made the decision to become a family, Krista embarked on a journey she never could have imagined, an accidental jihad: a quest for spiritual and intellectual growth that would open her mind, and more important, her heart.

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  • Algonquin Books
  • Paperback
  • December 2014
  • 304 Pages
  • 9781616204495

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$15.95

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About Krista Bremer

Krista Bremer is the associate publisher of The Sun magazine and the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation award. Her essay on which this book is based, “My Accidental Jihad,” received a Pushcart Prize. Her essays have been published in O: The Oprah Magazine, More magazine, and The Sun, and she’s been featured on NPR and in the PBS series Arab American Stories.

Praise

A bold piece of writing (and thinking) by an incredibly brave woman.” —Elizabeth Gilbert, author of The Signature of All Things and Eat, Pray, Love

Lucid, heartfelt and profoundly humane, My Accidental Jihad navigates the boundaries of religion and politics to arrive at the universal experience of love.” —G. Willow Wilson, author of Alif the Unseen

Utterly absorbing . . . A beautiful book.” —Cheryl Strayed, author of Wild

A beautiful account of [Bremer’s] jihad, or struggle, to find peace within herself and within her marriage.” —The Kansas City Star

Discussion Questions

How does Krista Bremer’s definition of jihad differ from its common usage in the media—and what does jihad have to do with her love story?

How does Bremer’s understanding of the hijab (head covering) change when she is in Libya? What benefits and drawbacks does she discover in modest Muslim clothing—and what benefits and drawbacks does she identify from the physical exposure she experienced growing up in Southern California?

When she first arrives in Libya, Bremer pities her female Muslim relatives—but she is surprised to discover that they pity her as well. Which aspects of her Western life might they pity, and how does her time in Libya make her rethink notions of freedom and oppression?

How does Bremer’s understanding of feminism and surrender change over the course of the book? Is surrender at odds with feminism? Is surrender synonymous with defeat?

In what ways does Bremer’s marriage change her opinions about diversity and tolerance?

Bremer encounters a dying grandmother during a family gathering in Libya. How does this woman’s experience differ from aging and dying in the United States? What benefits and drawbacks can you identify in her experience?

What are specific examples of Islamophobia in the book? What does Bremer’s experience convey about intolerance and the perception of otherness in the west?

In many ways, this book is about the search for home. What does Bremer convey about home in the final chapter—and do you agree with her definition?

Would you call this a strong marriage? Why or why not?

Do you agree or disagree with Bremer’s assertion that every relationship is bicultural? Which aspects of her struggle are particular to her marriage, and which aspects are universal?