When she’s on her own, personality and purpose surfaces.
Struggling to reconcile her religious devotion with Pacific Northwest slackerdom, Maliha gravitates to issues of Middle Eastern faith.
She prays at venerated mosques, attends Sufi concerts, and detects the echoes of Islam in the hospitality she enjoys in the most humble homes.
It’s significant that Masood’s position on the religious spectrum shifts depending on where she is and with whom.
Muslim religious custom is diverse geographically, politically, ethnically and individually.
Sometimes the author is more observant, such as when a Kurdish family she meets hanging out at a Syrian mosque simply watches as she prays before bedtime.
Other times she’s equally engaged in progressive ijtihad (religious inquiry), questioning a group of Egyptian academics about Islam’s view of women.
In Istanbul she’s unexpectedly conservative when a secular Turk admonishes her for choosing to veil.