Muslims’ from all corners’ of the globe have found themselves in America. Some have arrived via vastly different historical and cultural paths and circumstances. This is true. What is also true is that as Islam and its various peoples’ and cultures’ continue to become an influence and thus “bump up” against mainstream, Muslims’ struggle to self-identify vis-à-vis its ‘American counterparts’. Some will retreat back into their comfort zones…“they will create Arab, Pakistani, African and Indian ghettos” says activist Laila Abdelaziz. On the other hand, some will take on the task of transitioning into the West with a “Muslim style”…on their own terms strongly defining who they are and shattering the plethora of propaganda in the process.
Such is the case of two Muslim female Bloggers, Messrs. Nura Maznavi and Ayesha Mattu, whom have chose the latter. Thus is the context five years ago the idea for Love, Inshallah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women was born. “Love, Inshallah “is a compilation of essays about real life love experiences of twenty-five writers, all sharply diverse Muslim American woman, ethnically, from different social-economic and political realities. All bases seemed to be covered in “Love, Inshallah “ which lends to some very interesting reading as the various stories takes’ the reader on journeys that are peppered with the taste of the various writers’ unique cultural perspective and backdrops, yet soothing. The essays’ are filled with love in some cases, heart break in others’. Warning: this book is not without the controversy that is apparent in Muslim life in America as many Muslim cultures’ meld together in attempt to find their way amongst each other and the larger non-Muslim society. I think this is the big takeaway that reader will self-reflect on as the book forces one to peer into Muslim life and romance in America whether that view is internal or external. While one will find the obvious, that a relationship is a relationship that comes with its quirks, successes and disappointments, “Love, Inshallah does it “Muslim style”.
After taking a cursory glance at the table of contents, my eyes’ focused to an essay entitled “The Hybrid Dance” by Chinyere Obimba. Chinyere, a Harvard medical student of Afro-American and Nigerian background reared in Ypsilanti, Michigan says, “The project is full of tremendous themes’ that we don’t often talk about as Muslims…Muslim women and relationships?” In the chapter “Leap of Faith” by Aisha Saeed, as she is set for marriage to her brand new Muslim beau, a friend asks “so when, exactly, in these six weeks did you fall in love with him?” Aisha is forced to describe the stark difference in marriage and courtship in the boundaries of Islam as juxtapose to American culture filled with long term romances that could last years before marriage. For the reader, Laila Abdelaziz adds…In "Love, InshAllah" we're introduced to the raw reality of the American Muslim experience…The levels of religiosity, the many perspectives, the different journeys of love, passion, and faith. But what drew me to the anthology were not just the stories, but the women behind them. The realization that I could relate to each and every single one of them and that just as my story is multi-dimensional and justified... so is everyone else's story. After reading "Love, InshAllah”, Laila adds, I learned to accept more, love more, care more... and most importantly pray more".
Nura, the co-editor of “Love, Inshallah “adds that the stories are “complex nuisances of Muslim women globally and they shatter myths”. The book “is all about “Muslim female voices claiming their identity”, she further explains. In an earnest attempt to get a true range of Muslim representation for the book, Ayesha, her collaborator on the project stated, “We sought thru over two-hundred responses from various Muslim women in America before we settled on twenty-five”. That would include, “Muslim by birth and converts, secular, cultural and orthodox”, she adds. “Love, Inshallah “deals with everything from the subject of co-wives to Muslim female sexuality, pragmatism and romance from the experiences of Sunni and Shia, Black, Brown and White. “We wanted to do our best to stay true to the diversity to the Muslim community”. You can find the editors, Messrs. Nura Maznavi and Ayesha Mattu, touring the country from San Francisco to Boston to Emory University in Atlanta as the popularity of the book reaches a vast audience. Enjoy this read as I and many others have…and to Nura, Ayesha and the “Love, Inshallah “crowd…welcome to The Muslim Street.
Note: Co-Editors of “Love, Inshallah”, Nura Maznavi and contributor Chinyere Obimba will appear on the syndicated radio show The Muslim Street with host Laila Abdelaziz and journalist Carmel Delshad Sunday April 15th at 8:00 pm EDT. You can listen live at www.tantalk1340.com