The answer is Asma (asi-mah) Hasan, a self-described American-Muslim feminist cow-girl, who through exercising the everyday freedoms our growing up in this country allows discovered ijtihad (independent thought) along the way, and in her life study, never took looking back seriously enough to miss a forward beat – generating inspiration to and from, well for one, that infectious Sufi source, the future Sufis themselves, and the Qur’anically described garden that with nurturing and care might become a bunch of flowers, even if they came from the Safeway market up on Portrero Hill. Potted plants? and people just hangin’ out, and being 1950s USA cool. Is this an Islam and Muslims we’ve ever heard of?

Although the usually Muslim-bashing nominals love her non-threatening demeanor, that doesn’t take away from the fact that Asma Hasan (herself) is operating independent of the psychosis-driven imitators that dominate all media; records, books, newspapers, and including much of the Internet culture.

Asma is a kind of self-help-book writer who can say do-as-I-say because what she is saying is so universally true and free enough of polemics the reader can “hear” what she’s really saying. While you read what she says enough space is left between the notes set alongside her bass lines, as a way of saying it, to “hear” what your own heart tells you. Now, there is a trustworthy voice! Who can be more trusted than one who has chosen goodness?

This is a book review of “Why I am a Muslim: An American Odyssey,” and Asma sums up the why in 7 reasons; each her lifetime experience as one, and as perfect as the way it is. One again.

Islam’s beginnings. God’s will is God’s will can’t be improved on. Born Muslim and understanding the commonality of Sufi saints, and little old ladies doing Rosary after (the Catholic) Mass, having chosen, as the 12-steppers in Alcoholics Anonymous might explain, conscious contact (with the Ever-Present) – closer than the jugular, it is written. “Islam as a woman’s religion” caused me to laugh out loud, but she’s right. God is Merciful and Mercy-giving. Muslims have been everywhere since longer than America existed. For whatever reason, God knows, the concerns of Muslims, are the concerns of the world – like at no other time in history, and all at once.

The first Bill of Rights, with liberty and justice for all – unbeknownst to many, al-Qur’an is the original blueprint that includes a freedom of religion and a freedom from religion clause; the protection of religious minorities. “There [should be] no compulsion in religion.” [Qur’an 2:256*]

One of the great values of WIAAM is that it is written by a best-and-brightest youngster with absolute respect for our traditions, who is up on our contemporary American and world culture(s) – from Malcolm X (El-Haj Malik El-Shabazz), to Cat Stevens (Yusef Islam) and Outkast, and is free from judgment. I mean, what would you think of a Muslim with purple hair singing sacred Sufi poems to a hard rock beat, or a Muslim skateboarder with baggy pants and a red t-shirt? I mean, a girl Muslim skateboarder with baggy pants and a red t-shirt? Then what would you think if you learned she was a Cham (Vietnamese or Cambodian) Muslim? They’ve been practicing Islam for generations. What is the lesson here? Besides diversity, Muslims don’t necessarily stop being Muslims after taking up skateboarding…

File this one under Not Even the Taj Mahal is Perfect: The only religious scholar shop-talk technical flaw I found in WIAAM was a reference to “St. John”, of “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John” fame, who Asma related as the mainstay of the “Sabians” (referred to in al-Qur’an as among “People of the Book” – along with Christians and Jews). Many believe that John [His name shall be Yahy