Living Islam Out Loud: American Muslim Women Speak (Review)

September 6, 2010

Book cover for "Living Islam Out Loud" edited by Saleemah Abdul-Ghafur.Title: Living Islam Out Loud: American Muslim Women Speak

Editor: Saleemah Abdul-Ghafur

Publication Year: 2005

Pages: 224

Genre: Non-Fiction, Essays

Source: Purchased from Chapters

From the cover:

Living Islam Out Loud presents the first true generation of American Muslim women who have always identified as both American and Muslim. Without previous examples of how to be American Muslim women, these pioneers have had to forge new identities for themselves and for future generations.
Writing from diverse experiences and perspectives, the contributors include Sarah El-Tantawi, who has spoken on Muslim issues on Politically Incorrect and Hardball, and Asra Nomani, a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal. These voices, among others, speak out about the hijab (a traditional headscarf), relationships, sex and sexuality, activism, spirituality, and more.

This collection of essays is one of my favourite pieces about contemporary North American Muslim women. I’ve read it once before, a few years ago (before I converted), and liked it just as much upon re-reading it today.

Each of the women in this collection reflects upon her mixture of identities – American, Muslim, and sometimes others – and how this mixing of identities has shaped some part of her life. Living Islam Out Loud is divided into sections loosely based on topics, called: Crossroads, Love, The Strongest of Faith, and Soul Journeys. Almost all of the women’s stories touched in some way on hijab, but none of them focused solely on hijab, which was a really nice change from typical Muslim discourse about women.

One of the things that I really enjoyed about this collection is that the women talk about their challenges as Muslims or as part of their faith journeys, and not just about the good things and the things that went well. They talk without shame about marriage, divorce, sex (marital and pre-marital) and sexuality, relationships, children, and their problems with the faith community and their cultural communities. Among other things, one of the writers is a lesbian, another is the mother of a child outside of wedlock, and each of the women has their own story to tell, regardless of how “typical” or “untypical” these stories are.

I highly recommend this book to Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Living Islam Out Loud is a unique collection of the thoughts and beliefs of a collection of all-American Muslim women, sharing stories and opinions that we can all learn from.

Rating:


This book is a part of the Ramadan Reading event happening here this month.

You can find other posts in the series by clicking on the image to the right, or by taking a look at the schedule of posts and reviews.

4 Comments

  • Amy September 7, 2010 at 7:59 am

    Sounds like a great book, thanks for reviewing it.

  • Helen Murdoch September 7, 2010 at 8:42 am

    This sounds so interesting! I like that it is the good and the “bad” and that it doesn’t just focus on the hijab since that’s what the west makes Islam all about. Thank you for the review!

  • zibilee September 7, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    I think that reading something like this, from varying different Muslim women’s perspectives would be really enlightening for me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this book!

    • Carina September 16, 2010 at 2:46 pm

      It’s definitely an interesting perspective!

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