What happens to Muslims when they find themselves in an alien land -- North America or Europe, for example? They tend to respond by turning to Islam and relying on it in new ways. The result is not just significant for these new communities but for Islam itself. Metcalf quotes a Muslim graduate student telling her that the United States "is the cutting edge," the place where "Muslims strip away centuries of innovation and succeed in getting to the essence." In contrast to the majority Muslim countries, where the government appoints religious leaders, Muslim congregations in the West appoint their own leaders. Women play a more prominent public role. The Shi`i practice of self-flagellation during the Muharram ceremonies turns into an American-style blood drive. Other ties lose importance: a North African worker in France asserts, "My only nationality is God." Mosques take on postmodern shapes.

Making Muslim Space emphasizes the way in which Muslims mark their territory in the West through a variety of visual, aural, gastronomic, and even olfactory means. The Arabic script on buildings, Qur'anic tapes during the commute to work, eating only halal foods, and perfumes worn by men to prayer both raise memories of the old country and stake out a place in the new one. "Muslim space is where Muslims prevail," notes Regula Burckhardt Qureshi. The assertion of such space is particularly noteworthy in American prisons (the subject of a chapter by Robert Dannin), where Muslims are vastly disproportionate to their presence at large (for example, they make up one-sixth of the prison population in New York State).