Read The Islamic Republic of Australia by Sami Shah Online


From jihadis to hijabs and everything in between - what it means to be Muslim down under todayIn this humorous and insightful exploration of Islam in Australia, award-winning comedian and writer Sami Shah speaks with Muslims across the country, from the founder of a new group called Muslims for Progressive Values who believes in a feminist interpretation of the Quran, to tFrom jihadis to hijabs and everything in between - what it means to be Muslim down under todayIn this humorous and insightful exploration of Islam in Australia, award-winning comedian and writer Sami Shah speaks with Muslims across the country, from the founder of a new group called Muslims for Progressive Values who believes in a feminist interpretation of the Quran, to the official spokesperson for Hizb ut-Tahrir; to a Muslim preacher who thinks IS deserves credit for keeping Muslims conservative.Based on Shah's much-lauded 5-part radio documentary, THE ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF AUSTRALIA takes us behind the stereotypes and generalisations, to find out who Australian Muslims are, how they live and what they think. The answers are both multitudinous and surprising, resulting in a fascinating multi-faceted and entertaining portrait of Islam in Australia today....

Title : The Islamic Republic of Australia
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780733338151
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 288 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Islamic Republic of Australia Reviews

  • PattyMacDotComma
    2019-05-02 05:50

    4.5★“I’d spent so many years in Pakistan combating Islam in my head, that in Australia I wanted to pretend it just didn’t exist. Except, it obviously still did.”. . . If I updated the book to reflect daily events, it would never be completed. I also realised, upon closer analysis, people are essentially still screaming the same things.”Sami Shah is a smart, funny man who makes his living as a comedian, and it shows. Born in Pakistan to a Muslim family, he gradually realised he didn’t believe in Islam but he retained a lot of his Muslim culture. A lot of people who aren’t practising Christians enjoy Christmas and Easter, of course, so that’s no great surprise. He talks about growing up in Pakistan and why he and his wife decided to bring their daughter to grow up in Australia. His parents and family are all still back there, so why did they leave? Basically, it's not a great place for a girl to grow up, and you can’t be an ex-Muslim, certainly not safely in Pakistan. In Australia, of course, he’s assumed to be Muslim anyway. “I do have a face that’s Muslim-y enough that in a hostage situation, I’d be the suspect. Even if I was the hostage.”Photo of Sami Shah, daughter, wife Ishma Alvi at their Australian citizenship ceremonyWe get culture and religion and race all mixed up in our heads and nobody can really sift through the rubbish to figure out who anybody is, I think. He’s a quick-talking, literate man with a good sense of humour, often corny, but that only makes him seem a little more likeable, I think.“I’m going to tell the white people reading this book right now a secret: All the other races are just as bigoted. Pakistanis hate Bangladeshis, Emiratis hate South Asians, Saudis hate anyone who isn’t them. Brown people are grotesquely racist towards black people, black people are racist towards Asians, and the Chinese basically hate everybody.”Australia is currently debating (among other things) how or whether to amend the Racial Discrimination Act. People complain that political correctness has gone mad, but Shah says in a footnote:“It’s worth pointing out that, given how many times I’ve heard obscene racial slurs casually used in Australia, political correctness is hardly mad here. It’s barely irritated.”He says in a stand-up routine he has, where he tries to describe what’s happening in the world, the audience begins with laughter and gradually gets more uncomfortable as he goes on, eventually folding their arms in opposition. He realised it was him – his appearance that was unsettling. So every night, he’d pick a white man from the audience to volunteer to read the script while Shah pointed to a map (or whatever). It worked! People laughed at the same words that had made them so nervous.Aren’t we strange people? His explanation for what he calls the four kinds of Muslims (Normal, Metro, Frightening, and Downright Crazy) is great as is his almost breathless description of the war in Afghanistan (and elsewhere) which he describes as if it were hypothetical. I will quote it at the end, because it’s too good not to share.Now he and his wife live here with their daughter and Shah Skypes with his parents regularly. They are “Normal” Muslims. “They have read the Quran many times but basically ignore the weirder bits; if I point these out to them, they change the subject by asking why I won’t give them more grandchildren.”But one day his daughter comes home from school talking about Jesus! Panic stations! He decides to encourage his parents to teach his daughter, via Skype, about her heritage and culture, so she can be proud of where she came from. They love it, of course!As he says, if you’re not familiar with the Christian Bible, you won’t understand a lot of Western culture and art. Likewise, you need to understand Islam’s holy book, the Quran, and prophet, Muhammed, to understand Muslim culture.He quotes a friend as saying:“There’s a reason why no one likes atheists: we’re basically the vegans of the religious world.”He interviews many Muslims in Australia, including academics, so there’s plenty of food (not vegan) for thought about radicalisation, discontent, and the bitter, bloody feud between Sunni and Shia (think of the Irish Troubles for Christians) and how it escalated because in Saudi Arabia“in 1938, vast reserves of oil were discovered. And the rest, as they say, is present.”And it’s still the present, just as the Irish are still split and Americans are fighting over Civil War statues as I write this. But we are foolish to target all Muslims as suspected ISIS terrorists.“Suspecting a Shia of supporting ISIS is like suspecting a Western Bulldogs fan of cheering for the Swans.” [or a Yankees fan cheering for the Red Sox, or Donald Trump cheering for - um - anyone else at all]My view is that Islamic fundamentalists could be compared to Christian fundamentalists like the Amish, except the Amish are peace-loving and mind their own business. Very few of us would curtail our activities or limit our pleasures to live an Amish life, I’m sure. As Shah says:“In general, any form of return-to-the-roots Sunni Islam is called ‘Salafism’.. . . The basic idea of Salafism is that Muslims were perfect during the Prophet’s time, and it’s been downhill ever since.. . . Islam is a fairly judgy religion as it is. Well, all religions are judgy, but Islam certainly spends a lot of time crossing its arms and tutting loudly.”And you're always at risk of being a target, it seems.“It’s not easy being a Muslim in Western countries. It’s not even easy being a Muslim in non-Western countries, given that you’re likely to be killed if you’re not the right type of Muslim there.”I’ve barely touched the edges of the material Shah provides, including a wonderful chapter written by his equally literate wife, who discusses women and Islam. She and Shah do not subscribe to the view that it can be a feminist religion as Susan Carland says in Fighting Hislam: Women, Faith and Sexism. I reviewed it here. There’s an interesting (and entertaining) interview with him online at the moment, and there’s plenty of other material available. There was a lot of fairly heavy history in this, lightened up with his trademark humour, but overall, it’s a serious book and a handy guide for today’s mixed-up world. is his summary of the mess we’re in now and why:“What’s worth noting here is that while on the macro level Shias and Sunnis hate each other and have piled up a millennia’s worth of grievances, on the micro level people tend not to care. Muslims, generally, don’t bother with who is Shia or who is Sunni. . . The only time it becomes a major issue for the average Muslim’s daily interactions with other Muslims is if, hypothetically, America invades a Muslim country with a minority Sunni leadership ruling over a majority Shia population – and if, in that hypothetical scenario, America overthrows the Sunnis, then gives weapons and wealth to the Shias to persecute the Sunnis. The Sunnis then, needing their own weapons and funding, go to the Saudis for help. And although the Saudis are American allies, they’re also Sunni extremists, so they provide not just the funding to the Sunnis in the Muslim country that America overthrew, but also open the doors to Al Qaeda, which is essentially the terrorist wing of Sunni extremism. Which leaves the Shias at a disadvantage, and so they go to Iran – a Shia majority country – for help. And while America hates Iran, both America and Iran don’t want the Sunnis back in power. So now various proxy wars are going on in the original country, with its Muslims forced to declare allegiance to either the Shia or the Sunni side, all while their lives are being bludgeoned under the fist of sectarianism. This creates a flood of refugees who don’t care whether they’re Shia or Sunni, just that everything they loved is dead or destroyed, and all they have now is the endless trudge along roads paved with humiliation and abuse, until they too fall dead – all because some people far away in countries they’ll never see wanted more wealth or power or influence. In that hypothetical scenario, the Sunni–Shia divide comes up. But luckily that’ll never happen.”Yeah, right. Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins for the review copy from which I’ve quoted (so quotes may have changed).

  • Sonia
    2019-05-10 05:55

    Anyone that wants to learn about the fundamental principles of Islam and its culture needs to pick up this book. Sami Shah, an ex-Muslim examines both sides of the anti and pro-Islam argument in an objective and respectable way that puts the media to shame.

  • Jennifer
    2019-04-27 00:53

    In turns funny and informative. With all his caveats, he is a man after my own reasoning. I like how this gives a more nuanced view on Islam and Muslims in Australia.

  • hayls
    2019-05-17 03:00

    Finally, a review. Better late than never, right?A very funny take of a topical and divided issue in Australia right now. As a Pakistani, comedian, and ex-Muslim, this is a unique perspective with a relaxed and humorous tone in a growing genre of literature on the subject which tends to be far more serious, a bit angry, and very political. Not that Sami Shah doesn't get political; he does present a helpful kind of Islam 101, going through the basics of the culture and politics of the religion, and sorts out a few misconceptions about the "Muslim community" in Australia (including the idea that the community is one homogeneous group). Throughout the book, Shah also addresses many issues including Islamophobia (maybe the touchiest subject in this country at the moment) in a way which requires everyone to stop taking themselves too seriously and have a bit of a laugh. No one is safe from Shah's gentle ridicule and that's just what we need right now.My thanks to NetGalley and ABC Books for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

  • Misha Husnain Ali
    2019-04-26 07:10

    Good primer for anyone looking to understand Islam and the Muslim/Ex-Muslim experience in Australia. Easy to read, quite funny while remaining informative.

  • Rom Caitlin
    2019-05-20 03:44

    One of the funniest, most intelligent and most nuanced books I've ever read. Whether you're a lefty who loves multiculturalism or a right winger who fears being swamped by Muslims, this book will challenge your thinking, and make you a more informed person. At the same time, you'll be highly entertained by Sami Shah's silly asides and witty commentary, pointedly skewering hypocrisy on both sides of the fence. Shah's exploration of the religion he used to believe in and what it's place is in modern Australia is done with a lot of insight and consideration for the benefits and disadvantages of Western and Islamic cultures. If everyone would read this book, I think we'd start to have a much more informed national discussion about this issue, something badly needed at the moment.

  • Madde Jewell
    2019-04-22 04:49

    A great insight into Islam the religion, the many types of Muslims and the different perceptions of Muslims and non-Muslims in and of each other. Also hilarious. Would read/10

  • A Reader's Heaven
    2019-05-17 06:52

    (I received a free copy of this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.)From hijabs to jihad and everything in between - Muslims down under todayWhat is Halal? A country bordering Shariahland, or a method of preparing food? Do the Five Pillars of Islam comply with modern building codes? Or are they simply a philosophy for living? And if Muslims first arrived in Australia as early as 1800, can they go back to where they came from? In this funny and informative exploration of Islam in Australia, award-winning comedian and writer Sami Shah takes us behind the stereotypes and generalisations to find out who Australian Muslims are, how they live and what they think. Along the way we meet everyone from a woman who runs a ‘speed date a Muslim night' to a conservative Islamic preacher, and to the founder of a group called Muslims for Progressive Values. The result is an entertaining and fascinating snapshot of Islam down under today.Based on Shah's much-lauded 5-part radio documentary, this entertaining book takes the average Australian on a fun tour of Muslim Australia.We meet many Muslims who shrug off the stereotypical descriptions with humour and self-depreciating sense. We learn about how Muslims see themselves in our country, and some of the dreadful bigotry and racism they encounter everyday - even casual racism. It happens everywhere.However, while the topic is "heavy", it is written by a comedian so at no point to you ever get weighed down by the topic. In fact, there were times when I found myself wanting to get to the next person and see how they have dealt with these things - always with humour. It is serious and topical, but also a handy guide for dealing with life in our country right now.PaulARH

  • Atif Rahman
    2019-05-11 04:51

    Sami Shah's book is full of witty commentary, jokes that would not only chuckle both Muslims and non-muslims alike and a very good intro to the landscape of Islam (Muslims more precisely) in the context of current global issues and its unique manifestation in Australia. A very balanced take on genuine concerns on both sides (Islamists and Islamophobes). Although the writing is purely anecdotal, the frequent interviews with people actively researching on these topics along with his upfront confession of it being so set the right expectations. A must read for all in down under.

  • Marina Khan
    2019-04-30 07:03

    This book talks about the cruxes that muslims and ex-muslims like Myself often find ourselves in. While I may think I have left Islam, my name, my face, my identity still carry my pasts religious baggage. I can relate to Sami in that on one hand, I may have departed from Islam, yet I find myself defending its cultural value. Easy read - I finished it in a few hours. Good humour. And definitely some food for thought.

  • Jo Leggerini
    2019-05-10 07:58

    Great read! Not the first book I've read by a Muslim/ex-Muslim author about their experience with Islam, but definitely the most enjoyable and informative! Sami is a funny guy and manages to portray his experiences and insights eloquently and humorously. Would recommend for Australian audiences though, as it does require some understanding of Aussie culture.

  • V Edwards
    2019-05-14 08:04

    My hubby is atheist, thought he might appreciate the following from Sami Shah's book the Islamic republic of Australia.There’s a reason why no one likes atheists: we’re basically the vegans of the religious world..This book is excellent and I highly recommend. Besides being funny, this book certainly made my attitude change. Thank You Sami Shah.

  • Cyndi
    2019-05-16 07:53

    Funny, but not afraid to ask some really hard questions, this ex-Muslim athiest Pakistani-Australian (or should that be Australian - Pakistani?) is not afraid to put himself out there. Well actually he kinda is, but he does it anyway. It's what you do when you're a comedian. Well that and tell jokes and stuff

  • Nat
    2019-05-21 03:05

    Very informative and easy to understand. I had an understanding of the Shia / Sunni distinction but not a lot of understanding about Islam generally. There are quite a few people in my life I feel like I could recommend this book to.

  • Sarah
    2019-04-27 00:08

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Funny and educational! The author apparently lives in my suburb too, I know who I’ll be watching out for over the next few weeks :)