New Age Islam - Read About Islam, Islamic Religion and Muslims, Terrorism and Jihad
   Urdu Section
   Hindi Section
   Bangla Section
   Assamese Section
   Malayalam Section
   Arabic Section
   Persian Section
   French Section
   Debating Islam
   Islamic Q and A
   Books and Documents
   Islamic World News
   Radical Islamism and Jihad
   Islam,Terrorism and Jihad
   War on Terror
   Islam and the West
   Interfaith Dialogue
   The War Within Islam
   Islam and Sectarianism
   Islam and Politics
   Islam and Spiritualism
   Current Affairs
   Spiritual Meditations
   Muslims and Islamophobia
   Islam, Women and Feminism
   Islamic Ideology
   Islam and Human Rights
   Islamic Society
   Islamic Sharia Laws
   Islam and Pluralism
   Islam and Tolerance
   Ijtihad, Rethinking Islam
   Islamic History
   Islamic Personalities
   Islam and Science
   Islam and Environment
   Islamic Culture
   Islam and the Media
   Letter to the Editor
   From the Desk of Editor
   Indian Press
   Pakistan Press
   Middle East Press
   World Press
Allama Sir Muhammad Iqbal
The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam
Biography, Audio
More Videos.. 
The Quran: A New Translation - The eternal present tense
Preface: The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam By Dr. Muhammad Iqbal
Lecture 1: Knowledge and Religious Experience
Focus on Islam, Jihad and Terrorism
Condemning "Islamist" terrorist attack on Mumbai in harshest terms
Can Ulema save Muslims from Radical Islamism?
Indian Ulema have no time to lose, must call warlike Quranic surahs obsolete.
Jihadism gets sustenance from verses of war in the Quran
Dr. Zakir Naik on Yazeed and Osama bin Laden - A New Age Islam Debate
Unveiling Zakir Naik: Terror cannot be fought with Terror
Comments - 148
On Televangelist Zakir Naik: Don't give in to pretenders
Comments - 31
Beware of the Kafir-manufacturing factories: Maulana Nadeem-ul-Wajidi responds to the Fatawahs of Kufr against Dr. Zakir Naik
Comments - 41
Unity among Muslims and Dr. Zakir Naik's Evil: A Point of View
Comments - 163
This Islamic website offers facts about Islam and Muslims, Islam way and Islamic ideology. Online Islam - Latest Islamic World News, Articles on Radical Islamism & Jihad and Islam, Terrorism and Jihad
Books and Documents
30 Jan 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com
Lifting Veil on Love and Islam


January 23, 2012

Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women by Nura Maznavi

(Paperback - February 17, 2012)

Price: $10.85

Zahra Noorbakhsh was 14 when her Iranian immigrant mother discovered that Zahra was defying the family ban on mingling with boys: one was among her four friends heading to the movies together.

So the sex education talk that in a different life, back in the holy city of Qom, would have waited for her bridal night was instead delivered in the parking lot of a mall in Danville, Calif.

“Zahra, you have a hole,” her mother started. “For the rest of your life, men will want to put their penis in your hole. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like, who is your ‘friend.’ ”

Young Zahra staggered from the car thinking: “I have a what?! A hole? Where? Was that what I had missed in sex ed the one day I had the flu?”

That exchange is recounted in a new anthology of essays about flirting, dating and sex published on Tuesday under the title “Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women.”

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.

“Inshallah,” the Arabic word for “God willing,” was included in the title because “it captures the idea that everybody is searching for love,” Ms. Maznavi said.

The anthology joins half a dozen books in the last two years that have been written by American Muslim women about their lives.

“We are thought of as being submissive and given in marriage to big, bearded men,” said Ms. Mattu, 39, an international development consultant, “while the reality is that a majority of American Muslim women are creative, funny, intelligent and opinionated.”

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, American Muslims have agonized about lying low versus stepping forward to convince other Americans that they are not a fifth column. Controversy erupts around even innocuous television shows like “All-American Muslim,” which presented five families in Dearborn, Mich., as inherently normal.

Even as the editors, both American-born daughters of immigrants, sought to fight society’s tendency to consider all Muslims extremists, they also struggled with the cultural proscription against describing private lives in public. “Within the American Muslim community, there has not been a space for women to speak openly about their love lives,” said Ms. Maznavi, a 33-year-old civil rights lawyer.

The book followed a tortured path into print. The two editors first dreamed up the idea five years ago over coffee in San Francisco, laughing about what a Muslim dating movie might be like. Their agent dropped them because publishers felt the book failed to fit into one category like religion, academia or chick lit.

So they waited until Pitchapalooza 2010, an annual cattle call at the literary festival Litquake in the Bay Area, where writers get a few minutes to pitch a book idea to a panel of industry experts.

On their night, more than 50 showed up, too many for everyone to pitch, so names were drawn from a hat. The two women sat through some 15 other pitches before Ms. Maznavi’s name was drawn, second to last.

In the tension, Ms. Maznavi said, she forgot her memorized pitch, so she winged it. The audience went wild, with men approaching them afterward to say things like, “I didn’t know we were allowed to touch you.”

They secured new agents that night, then a publishing contract with Soft Skull Press, a small house in Berkeley, Calif., the next month.

They solicited submissions from across the United States, mainly through Facebook and Twitter, winnowing down a couple of hundred to a collection that represents women with origins in East Africa and across the Middle East to Pakistan, as well as a mixture of ages, professions and sexual orientations.

Some experiences speak to issues broader than those concerning Muslim Americans: The woman who discovers that her dream date already has a young daughter, or the woman who comes out to her parents only to learn that they had been reading her blog for years.

But many issues are particular to their religion, like what to do when your date surprises you with a bottle of Champagne, and you have to explain that Muslims cannot drink alcohol. Even in families that are not highly observant, numerous women grapple with the question of premarital sex.

A Jewish convert to Islam detailed the pain of alienating her father, while another contributor spoke with rapture about joining a polygamous family.

Angela Collins Telles, 36, another convert to Islam, described the almost unbelievable twists of fate that she overcame in finding her Brazilian husband, including all manner of un-Islamic behavior, starting with their first chance encounter in a bar and proceeding through a platonic night together in a hotel room.

“I know my story will be looked on with a frown by people who know me, but that is O.K.,” said Ms. Collins Telles, a former elementary school principal, particularly since her husband also converted, and they now have two small sons.

The collection includes just one truly sad tale, that of a woman describing the loss of her Italian fiancé because he condemned her faith, lumping together all Muslims as terrorists. She had already quit her job in New York and was on the verge of flying to Europe when the cataclysmic fight erupted.

“I did have a scarring experience,” said the woman, who wrote under the name Leila N. Khan. “There is this fear of being told, ‘I told you so, you shouldn’t have gone outside the faith.’ ”

The difficult experiences were all the harder to write about, contributors said, knowing they could provide ammunition to those who paint all Muslims as somehow un-American.

“It is doubly hard for Muslim women, because we want to complain about our men without everyone turning around to say, ‘See, I knew they were all crazy terrorists,’ ” said Ms. Noorbakhsh, a 31-year-old comedian, who after describing her sex education talk goes on to detail losing her virginity in college. “You leave yourself vulnerable to people using your voice to attack your community, so we kind of censor our own voices.”

Source: New York Times



Forward to a friend | Print
Total Comments: 0
     Compose Your Comments here:
Email (Not to be published)
Strike Through
Left Align
Right Align
Change Text Direction
Ordered List
Unordered List
Decrease Indent
Increase Indent
Font Color
Background Color
Insert Link
Remove Link
Horizontal Rule
Please use the browser Internet Explorer to post your comments.
In case of difficulty, please post your comments to:
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the articles and comments are the opinions of the authors and not necessarily reflect that of
This site contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available in our efforts to promote Co-Existence and Dialogue of Religions and Civilisations, and advance understanding of Islam and Democracy, Pluralism, Terrorism, Human Rights, Islamic Laws and Ideology, etc. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use', you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. New Age Islam has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of these articles nor is New Age Islam endorsed or sponsored by the originator of these articles. For more information go to:
Copyright 2008 - 2009 NewAgeIslam.Com All Rights Reserved.
Site best viewed in 1200 x 900 pixels or higher display resolution.
Editor and Publisher: Sultan Shahin, E-22, Indra Prastha Apts., 114, I. P. Extension, New Delhi – 110092
Phone No. (+91-11) 222 44 868 E-mail:
Home | About Us | Contact Us | Disclaimer | Donate | Submit Articles | Privacy Policy