Elise Bellin, MLIS is the IRC Librarian and this book review is part of an ongoing series that focuses on a range of books within the IRC collection as a service to the community.

The Butterfly Mosque

by G Willow Wilson, © 2011 – ISBN: 9780802118875

The Butterfly Mosque by G Willow Wilson is her personal story of her conversion to Islam. How she got to that point, what she experienced along the way, how people reacted and how she reacted. It is a powerful story of finding oneself even in a foreign land. It is the story of a pact with God and a realization of self.

Wilson was raised atheist. Her parents are atheists. Having not been raised in a religious household, conversion was far from her mind. It wasn’t until she started college and was dealing with some serious health issues that she really started investigating different religions and making friends with individuals of varying religious affiliations.

At one point, during a particularly serious health scare during her sophomore year, G Willow Wilson says she made a pact with God. If she got better, she would convert. She didn’t get better, at least not immediately.

In part, it made her realize that while the arguments she had grown up with in refutation against religion allowed her to argue against “little-g gods,” what she was growing more and more to believe in was the “big-g God” who was beyond time and space and a need to bargain. It also allowed her to realize that not bargaining, not immediately answering, doesn’t mean abandonment. It was a major first step toward her eventual destination.

The journey was long, though. It took her through conversion, traveling to another country, falling in love with and then marrying an Egyptian, explaining to her family both her conversion and her engagement, and a host of other challenges in between. The Butterfly Mosque is this story. It is a beautiful, lyrical tapestry of life that is well worth the weaving it took to get there.

Founded in 2011, the Islamic Resource Library (IRC) is the first Islamic library in Wisconsin. The IRC aims to provide resources to educators, students, health professionals, interfaith groups, and any members of the Milwaukee community that want an accurate understanding of the Islamic faith, its practices, and its people.