All-American Muslim
Muslims have faced discrimination and ostracisation in America, particularly in the wake of 9/11. (Photo: Reuters)

"All-American Muslim" profiles five families from Dearborn, Michigan - home to the largest mosque in the United States - in order to offer "an intimate look at the customs and celebrations, misconceptions and conflicts" facing Muslims in America today.

Premiered on Sunday on TLC, the show charts the daily lives of families and individuals trying to reconcile their dual identities of Muslim and American. One tattoo-sporting country-music listening character, for example, has to persuade her Irish Catholic fiancée to convert to Islam so her family will approve the wedding.

"The reality show is not to demean or make us feel bad about being who we are as people or as Muslims," said Nawal Aoude, a hijab-wearing nurse who is preparing episode for the birth of her first child with husband Nader, a federal agent.

"The whole point of doing this is to bring out what Muslims are," she added. "We want to set good examples, show that we are still traditional but that we are Americans, too."

Billed as the Muslim community's equivalent of the Crosby Show, or of Jersey Shore, the show has received both good and bad attention from critics.

Supporters say the programme is helping to combat stereotypes against Muslims in America, and open people's eyes to the fact that most Muslims are not the burqa-wearing women-hating jihad-declaring terrorists much of the media portrays them to be. Indeed, they are just normal [people going about their daily lives and attempting to reconcile their faith with the demands of modern living.

Islamophobes and ultra-conservatives, such as the notorious Robert Spencer who runs Jihad Watch, have complained that the show is "misleading" because it attempts "to manipulate Americans into ignoring the threat of jihad" by portraying Muslims as "ordinary folk just like you."

There are also more legitimate concerns that "All-American Muslim" only gives an insight into a tiny echelon of Muslim society - the predominantely Lebanese, Shia families living in one town in Michigan - and cannot possibly be representative of a faith and community that globally comprise over 1.5 billion people.

Love it or hate it, in a country where anti-Muslim hate crimes are up 50 per cent in the last year, "All-American Muslim" brings a much-needed human face to the on-going debate about Islam in America.