Discussion Guide: The Bad Muslim Discount

1. While there are obvious cultural differences between the Pakistan of the past in which Anvar grows up and America today, Anvar's father finds the same philosophies taking hold -- what Anvar calls "Make Islam Great Again" and the "Make American Great Again" movement. What causes a yearning for a return to a perceived glorious past? What does the world Anvar grew up in have in common with the current United States that this desire should recur?

2. The story of Abraham runs as a thread throughout the novel, and various characters are called upon to make sacrifices. How does the presence of this thread alter or shape your reading of the book?

3. All of the characters in the novel have a different relationship with their religion, and Anvar talks about the different flavors of Islam practiced all over the world. Does this alter your understanding of the Muslim faith or Muslims? If so, how?

4. The novel discusses the aggressive exportation and prevalence of American culture all over the world. The show "Full House" is used as an example, and Azza suggests that visiting The Painted Ladies is a kind of pilgrimage for her. What are the virtues of a global, American-driven culture? What are the potential pitfalls?

5. Naming is an important theme in the book. Safwa takes on different names. It is mentioned that Muslims believe there is power in the meaning of a name. Both Anvar and the Imam talk about the story of Adam in the Quran and how he was taught the names of things. The novel discusses how we use language to make things more palatable -- e.g. how 'torture' becomes 'enchanced interrogation'. Can you think of other examples where this happens in modern society? What are the virtues of renaming things to make them seem more innocuous? What are the dangers of doing so?