My mother's family is Christian: her father was a Baptist lay preacher, and her brother, in a leap of Anglican upward mobility, became a vicar in the Church of Wales. But my mother converted to Islam on marrying my father. She was not obliged to; Muslim men are free to marry ahl al-kitab, or people of the Book - among them, Jews and Christians.
Fulla is the Arab world's answer to Barbie. Now, according to proponents of the clash of civilizations, Barbie and Fulla occupy these completely separate spheres. They have different interests. They have divergent values. And should they ever come in contact... well, I've got to tell you, it's just not going to be pretty.
4Shbab has been dubbed Islamic MTV. Its creator, who is an Egyptian TV producer called Ahmed Abu Haiba, wants young people to be inspired by Islam to lead better lives. He reckons the best way to get that message across is to use the enormously popular medium of music videos. 4Shbab was set up as an alternative to existing Arab music channels.
In Egypt, where my research is focused, I have seen plenty of trouble in and out of the citadel. There are legions of young men who can't afford to get married, because marriage has become a very expensive proposition. They are expected to bear the burden of costs in married life, but they can't find jobs.
Growing up, I came to love Egypt and respect Islam, but I never thought to go beyond the surface. Back in Canada, many of my father's Egyptian friends questioned his decision not to raise his only child more strictly in the faith. I was not taught salat, the Muslim ritual of prayer, nor did I study Arabic.