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New Jersey-raised author Wilson tells Morning Forum of conversion to Islam

Kathryn Tomaino/Special to the Town Crier
Muslim-American author G. Willow Wilson shared highlights of her life story at the Morning Forum of Los Altos April 15.

Author G. Willow Wilson shared her life story at the Morning Forum of Los Altos April 15, highlighting her conversion to Islam in the presentation “The Butterfly Mosque; Women in Islam; A Memoir about Life in Egypt.”

Wilson is the author of the award-winning memoir “The Butterfly Mosque” (Atlantic Monthly Press, 2010), her account of life in Egypt during the Mubarak regime; the novel “Alif the Unseen” (Grove Press, 2012); and the acclaimed graphic-novel series “Air” (Vertigo, 2009) and “Mystic” (Marvel, 2012). She also co-writes the monthly “Ms. Marvel” comic-book series for Marvel Comics.

Wilson grew up in a secular home in New Jersey. In college, she studied different religions and read the Quran, discovering that she was a monotheist. She said she embraces the Muslim position that God is responsible for the pleasures and pains of life.

After college, she set out to explore Muslim life in a Muslim country and moved to Cairo to teach in an English-speaking school. When she got off the plane, Wilson said she felt that Cairo was the place she had been looking for her entire life. She met her husband, an Egyptian native, who was teaching at the same school. She converted to Islam and they married. She lived in Cairo for most of her 20s. These days, she and her husband live in Seattle with their two young daughters.

After moving back to the United States, Wilson thought she would have to choose between Eastern and Western ideology and allegiance.

Upon reflection, she decided that she did not have to make a choice, because she believes Eastern and Western ideas are not in conflict.

“They have a common heritage and bleed into one another,” she said.

Like the millennials who devour her comic books, Wilson said she has a fluid identity like the more than 40 percent of children born in the U.S. who are of mixed ethnicity. In her popular “Ms. Marvel” comic books, the main character is a geeky 16-year-old Pakistani-American girl growing up in New Jersey.

Wilson said that by the time her daughters grow up, she hopes the divides among people over religion, culture, education, geography and location will no longer exist.

“The world is changing and all manner of things will be well,” she said.

Morning Forum is a members-only lecture series that meets at Los Altos Methodist Church. For membership details and more information, visit morningforum.org.

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