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Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women

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Overview


In this groundbreaking collection, American Muslim women writers sweep aside stereotypes to share their real-life tales of flirting, dating, longing, and sex. Their stories show just how varied the search for love can be—from singles' events and college flirtations to arranged marriages, all with a uniquely Muslim twist.

These heartfelt tales are filled with passion and hope, loss and longing. One follows the quintessential single woman in the big city as she takes a chance on ...

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Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women

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Overview


In this groundbreaking collection, American Muslim women writers sweep aside stereotypes to share their real-life tales of flirting, dating, longing, and sex. Their stories show just how varied the search for love can be—from singles' events and college flirtations to arranged marriages, all with a uniquely Muslim twist.

These heartfelt tales are filled with passion and hope, loss and longing. One follows the quintessential single woman in the big city as she takes a chance on a Muslim speed-dating event. Another tells of a shy student from a liberal college town who falls in love online and must reveal her secret to her conservative family. A third recounts a Southern girl who surprises herself by agreeing to an arranged marriage, unexpectedly finding the love of her life.

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

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
American Muslim women give first-person accounts of the challenges and joys of falling in love in this well-meaning but uninspired collection of essays. Punk rocker Tanzila Ahmed finds herself entranced by a bad boy musician with a "six-month itch;" Leila Khan's mother prepares dinner for her and her Italian suitor, but in protest of her daughter's relationship with a non-Muslim refuses to remain in the house during his visit; and Yasmine begins a long-distance relationship with a Muslim man who is divorced and has a 6-year old. In the opening essay, "Leap of Faith," Aisha ultimately chooses an arranged marriage despite her initial reluctance, a predicament also explored, albeit in a more complicated and nuanced way, by Mira Nair's film Monsoon Wedding. The stories here have a lot in common with each other-strict parents and internal guilt make appearances in many of the essays, rendering this volume insufficiently distinct and less well written than other first-generation immigrant writing by women. In addition, the prose is often clunky and full of truisms-lines like "I finally felt like a woman" and "I had finally married the man of my destiny" are not out of place here. Good intentions coupled with poor execution make this an admirable, but ultimately disappointing collection.
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Publishers Weekly
American Muslim women give first-person accounts of the challenges and joys of falling in love in this well-meaning but uninspired collection of essays. Punk rocker Tanzila Ahmed finds herself entranced by a bad boy musician with a "six-month itch;" Leila Khan's mother prepares dinner for her and her Italian suitor, but in protest of her daughter's relationship with a non-Muslim refuses to remain in the house during his visit; and Yasmine begins a long-distance relationship with a Muslim man who is divorced and has a 6-year old. In the opening essay, "Leap of Faith," Aisha ultimately chooses an arranged marriage despite her initial reluctance, a predicament also explored, albeit in a more complicated and nuanced way, by Mira Nair's film Monsoon Wedding. The stories here have a lot in common with each other—strict parents and internal guilt make appearances in many of the essays, rendering this volume insufficiently distinct and less well written than other first-generation immigrant writing by women. In addition, the prose is often clunky and full of truisms—lines like "I finally felt like a woman" and "I had finally married the man of my destiny" are not out of place here. Good intentions coupled with poor execution make this an admirable, but ultimately disappointing collection. (Feb.)
From the Publisher

Praise for Love, InshAllah

"24 portraits of private lives that expose a group in some cases kept literally veiled, yet that also illustrate that American Muslim women grapple with universal issues." —The New York Times

"Love InshAllah [goes] to a place where few, if any, books have gone before. Lesbians, co-wives, converts to Islam, Shia, Sunni, black, brown and white: Every voice is unique. Collectively, they sing of strength, passion and love. One can't help but to sit back and listen, captivated." —Samina Ali, author of Madras on Rainy Days

"A beautiful collection that reminds us all not only of the diversity of the American Muslim community, but the universality of the human condition, especially when it comes to something as magical and complicated as love." —Reza Aslan, bestselling author of No god but God and Beyond Fundamentalism

"Individually, the stories in Love, InshAllah will entertain, educate and perhaps shock you. Together, they are a tribute to the collective power of storytelling, inspiring and empowering women of all backgrounds to claim ownership of their bodies, desires and dreams." —Firoozeh Dumas, author of Funny in Farsi and Laughing without an Accent

"This book is an irreverent, witty reality-check. The women in this book are not only fulfilling a mission close to my heart—telling their own stories as Muslim American women, shattering stereotypes, building bridges—but they are doing so in a way that will entertain you, shock you, and make you fall in love with them." —Zahra Suratwala, author of the I Speak for Myself series

"Love, Inshallah is an important book that America needs to embrace. It debunks many of the myths about Muslim-American women and their sexuality, which has been demonized, fetishized, and grotesquely misunderstood. Deep, funny, sad, revealing, and illuminating, this book will touch your brain, your heart, and perhaps several other organs." —David Henry Sterry, bestselling author of Chicken

“With a sonic boom, Love, InshAllah breaks through the tired sound bytes and stereotypes that can drown out authentic voices of Muslim women. This refreshingly diverse collection of stories about heartbreak, happily-ever-afters, and everything in between, affirms that no one—orthodox or progressive, gay or straight—is immune from the universal hunger to love and be loved.”—Nafisa Haji, award-winning author of The Writing on My Forehead and The Sweetness of Tears

“Frank, engrossing and refreshingly honest, Love, InshAllah is a book full of hidden surprises. For a topic as fraught with controversy as Muslim women’s sexuality, shockingly little has been published on the subject by Muslim women themselves. Love InshAllah is a welcome and timely remedy.”
—G. Willow Wilson, award-winning author of The Butterfly Mosque and Alif the Unseen

“These are gorgeously powerful women who love men and women, fight and laugh, lie to themselves and hold back nothing. You’ll fall for some and be frustrated by others. You will see yourself in them. And, I wager, you will not be able to put down these stories of women risking themselves for love.” —Dr. Laury Silvers, University of Toronto and author of A Soaring Minaret: Abu Bakr al-Wasiti and the Rise of Baghdadi Sufism

“In Islam, women are seen as the manifestations of God’s attributes of love and beauty. These remarkable stories capture what love means to Muslim women today. As the Sufis say, the quest for the beloved is ultimately the heart’s longing to unite with God. Listen with an open heart as these Muslim women reveal their journeys into the divine mystery of love.” —Kamran Pasha, author of Mother of the Believers and Shadow of the Swords

Love, Inshallah is unbelievable in its audacity. Not all of our authors find love, and God and God’s Will are just as often felt by their absence as by their presence. The brutal honesty that these women portray is refreshing and frightening. Nearly every story reveals another aspect of the human condition, and makes you appreciate that even among people who share the same faith, love can mean something very different.” —Dr. Hussein Rashid, Hofstra University and Religion Dispatches

Love, InshAllah is the most moving and emotionally honest book I have read in a long time. These bold new voices share stories that are romantic in the very best sense of the word – by turns intimate, sexy, funny and sad.”
—Clare Winterton, Executive Director of the International Museum of Women

“Given the damage done by Muslim men, non-Muslim men, and non-Muslim women claiming the sexual lives of Muslim women as their political territory, these stories provide a desperately needed corrective. The authors have created their own spaces. The achievement is profound. Love and religion get mixed up in beautiful, painful, confusing, and liberating human ways. A crucial literary intervention for anyone who can’t see Muslim women as human beings.” —Michael Muhammad Knight, author of The Taqwacores

Love, InshAllah is beauty on paper. You know how books are referred to as page turners? I’ve not met many until this one. Each story is as captivating as the next, the writers bravely peeling back the corners of the heart, inviting the reader into their diverse worlds. Please read this book. It will help you access your vulnerability and the secrets of your own love story."—Kathy LeMay, author of The Generosity Plan

“This illuminating anthology edited by Nura Maznavi and Ayesha Mattu presents stories by American Muslim women on dating, love, marriage, heartbreak, remorse, lust and longing. It’s a work that should be applauded, not only for its rarity and timeliness, but also for its ability to celebrate these utterly normal, healthy, messy, and all-too human discussions about love and sexuality which for too long have been buried under a veil of shame, fear, and self-imposed censorship.” —Wajahat Ali, author of Domestic Crusaders

Love, InshAllah showcases tremendous diversity. Each story weaves a different tale about love, sexuality, and the negotiation of faith and identity with lived realities. Yet what makes the book special is its celebration of differences and the ultimate transcendence of love. It is this common experience that connects not just the writers, but also the readers, pulled in as we are to these resonant, human stories told with exceptional skill.” —Asma T. Uddin , founder and editor-in-chief of AltMuslimah.com

“Deeply touching and intimate, the twenty-five stories in Love, InshAllah reveal the elegance and universality of love and faith. Written by American Muslim women of all ages, races and ethnicities, they reveal the full range of human experience. A perfect book to upend the stereotypes of veiled and abused Muslim women, these tales are filled with hope and humor and life. I loved it!” —Irving Karchmar, author of Master of the Jinn: A Sufi Novel

“Ayesha and Nura have curated a selection of stories and voices that will be both utterly familiar and new to readers, whether they are American Muslims or not. How we understand what love and America look like is expanded and made more representative of this country we all share thanks to this collection.”
—Alia Malek, author of A Country Called Amreeka

“These essays are meaningful, poignant, and powerful. I’m so grateful for these glimpses into the lives of American Muslim women, all of whom feel to me now like cousins I’m glad to finally know.” —Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, author of 70 Faces: Torah Poems

“A compelling and moving anthology. Queer, straight, Sunni, Shia, polygynous, monogamous, strongly practicing or barely observant—this book captures it all. The writers’ humanity and struggle comes searing off the pages, showing that while the path to love is never easy, it can be beautiful. While each story belongs to the unique woman who wrote it, their stories are united by a thread of hope; the very basis of ‘inshAllah.’” —Susan Carland, Monash University

Love, InshAllah provides us a rare glimpse into the intimate lives of Muslim women from very different backgrounds. The stories show that although the roadmap may be unique, the destination is universal—to love and be loved for who we are.” —Manal Omar, author of Barefoot in Baghdad

Love, InshAllah takes us into an uncharted world where each woman’s search for love burns as hotly and uniquely as stars in the night sky.”
—Jensine Larsen, founder and CEO of World Pulse

“If you thought that you knew everything about Muslim women and love, life and relationships, then think again. This collection is challenging and provocative. You’ll be surprised, even shocked at their stories and the honesty with which they lay open their joys, as well as their vulnerable and sometimes wounded hearts.” —Shelina Janmohamed, author of Love in a Headscarf

“Brilliant! Taken individually, the stories elicit the cringes, smiles and tears of readers. As a collection, Love, InshAllah paints a careful narrative of tensions, struggles, fears and ecstasy in the lives of these women as they search for love, peace and the Divine. This anthology may raise controversy and ire among some readers, but it fearlessly paints a portrait of Muslim life that can only find a home in US literature.” —Dr. Arshad Ali, Teachers College, Columbia University

The Brooklyn Rail
...the stories transcend stereotypical conceptions with humor and heartbreak; which is to say, with humanity. Whether introducing Catholic beaus to immigrant parents or cyber-eloping as an Islam-convert in a post-9/11 America, the collection does not unveil repressed, obedient girls, but willful women whose search for love is at once complex and joyful.
The New York Times
The two editors, Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi, sought to create a book that dispelled the stereotype of Muslim women as mute and oppressed. They gathered 24 portraits of private lives that expose a group in some cases kept literally veiled, yet that also illustrate that American Muslim women grapple with universal issues.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781593764289
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/17/2012
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 486,410
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Ayesha Mattu is a writer and international development consultant. Her writing has appeared in The Huffington Post, the International Museum of Women, Religion Dispatches, and the award-winning blog, Rickshaw Diaries. She was selected a Muslim Leader of Tomorrow by the UN Alliance of Civilizations and the ASMA Society in 2009. Ayesha is working on a memoir about losing faith and finding love which is excerpted in Love, InshAllah. She lives with her husband and son in Northern California.

Nura Maznavi is a civil rights attorney, writer, and Fulbright Scholar. She has worked with migrant workers in Sri Lanka, on behalf of prisoners in California, and with a national legal advocacy organization leading a program to end racial and religious profiling. She lives in California.

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Table of Contents

Introduction ix

Allahu Alirn: In Search of the Beloved 1

Leap of Faith Aisha C. Saeed 3

Love in the Time of Biohazards Melody Moezzi 10

A Prayer Answered Tolu Adiba 18

Love at Third Sight Patricia M. G. Dunn 28

Wild Wind Nijla Baseema Mu'min 39

The Opening Ayesha Mattu 46

Punk-Drunk Love Tanzila Ahmed 58

Alif: Where It All Begins 75

The Birds, the Bees, and My Hole Zahra Noorbakhsh 77

Sex by Any Other Name Insiya Ansari 87

Otherwise Engaged Huda Al-Marashi 97

The First Time Najva Sol 112

The Hybrid Dance Chinyere Obimba 118

International Habibti: Love Overseas 129

Love in the Andes Angela Collins Telles 131

Last Night on the Island Nura Maznavi 145

Even Muslim Girls Get the Blues Deonna Kelli Sayed 152

Rerouting Leila N. Khan 162

So I Married a Farangi Nour Gamal 179

Third Time's the Naseeb: Loving After Loss 189

Three Asiila Imani 191

A Journey of Two Hearts J. Samia Mair 204

From Shalom to Salaam S. E. Jihad Levine 217

You've Got Ayat: Finding Love Online 231

Cyberlove Lena Hassan 233

Kala Love Suzanne Syeda Shah 249

Brain Meets Heart Aida Rahim 258

A Cairene Kind of Love Molly Elian Carlson 267

It Will Be Beautiful Yasmine Khan 278

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2012

    Must read!

    Not a typical short-storyl! I appreciated the honesty of these American women, and am looking forward to more works by the authors. Warning: not everything in this book is by the book "islamic," but the book does give a rather true portrayal of women living in the US. Yes, there are some controversial issues addressed in the book, but the overall message is one of unity and love.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2014

    We need more

    stories like this

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  • Posted August 28, 2012

    well written

    I enjoyed all the stories. The cover is much more suggestive than the content of the book - there is no crazy sex talk or erotica just stories of love, sacrifice & compassion.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 17, 2012

    Entertaining enough

    Interesting stories but not particularly well written. Some of them were pretty raunchy considering the title of the book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 3, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews

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