"I have never been ashamed to be Muslim, not even after 9-11, and not now," states Asma Gull Hasan in the introduction to her new book, Why I Am a Muslim: An American Odyssey (Element). The 29-year-old Hasan, a Colorado-bred graduate of Wellesley and New York University Law School, has become something of a Muslim feminist pundit since the timely 2000 publication of her American Muslims: A New Generation, which landed her op-eds in the New York Times and guest appearances on The O'Reilly Factor and Politically Incorrect With Bill Maher. Muslim by birth and by choice, American by birth and by culture, Hasan asserts that Islam from inception has been a tolerant, woman-friendly, "big-tent" religion with values that mirror America's own. Part memoir, part primer on Islam, Why I Am a Muslim is no scholarly treatise, nor is it intended to be. But while Hasan can be disarmingly breezy--"I daily face a jihad not to overspend on my shoe budget," she quips at one point--if your knowledge of Islam is limited to Muhammad and the mountain, this is an accessible introduction. Hasan appears at 7:30 PM on Thursday, September 2, at Barbara's Bookstore, 1218 S. Halsted, 312-413-2665.