Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women (Review)

August 3, 2012

Book cover for "Love, InshAllah" by Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi.Title: Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women

Editors: Nura Maznavi and Ayesha Mattu

Publication Year: 2012

Pages: 256

Genre: Non-Fiction, Essays

Source: E-review copy from the publisher

From the cover:

Romance, dating, sex and – Muslim women? In this groundbreaking collection, 25 American Muslim writers sweep aside stereotypes to share their search for love openly for the first time, showing just how varied the search for love can be — from singles’ events and online dating, to college flirtations and arranged marriages, all with a uniquely Muslim twist.

These stories are filled with passion and hope, loss and longing: A quintessential blonde California girl travels abroad to escape suffocating responsibilities at home, only to fall in love with a handsome Brazilian stranger she may never see again. An orthodox African-American woman must face her growing attraction to her female friend. A young girl defies her South Asian parents’ cultural expectations with an interracial relationship. And a Southern woman agrees to consider an arranged marriage, with surprising results.

These compelling stories of love and romance create an irresistible balance of heart-warming and tantalizing, always revealing and deeply relatable.

This book should probably be considered one of the required readings of the year.

Love, InshAllah presents, on the surface, as a collection of essays written by Muslim American women telling the stories of their myriad relationships. They range from the fairly mainstream to the outright haram (according to conservative orthodoxy, anyways). Their stories tell of arranged meetings, “regular” dating, online profiles, and friends becoming more. They talk about how their faith affected/affects these relationships – sometimes positively, sometimes negatively – and describe how their faith is, in return, affected by these relationships.

What was most interesting to me was that, through these highly individual experiences, there was a sense that Muslim American women are just like everyone else. They live, laugh, love, and cry … just like everyone else around them. I was also touched by the breadth and depth of experiences that were included in the book; while no sample can include everyone, Love, InshAllah didn’t shy away from including those who are normally silenced within Muslim communities. I loved being able to open up a book and read about other peoples’ stories that were so close to my own, those of converts and queers and a variety of people who self-identify as both female and Muslim.

Love, InshAllah not only gives the reader a sneak peek into the inner lives of American Muslim women: it gives us insight into ourselves, and the many ways in which we are all the same.

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.

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