I am on a roll with reading Nonfiction this year and one of the reasons would be the gems I have recently discovered in this Genre. One of them being this essay collection.
WHAT IS IT ABOUT?
“EVERY ESSAY IN THIS BOOK IS UNFINISHED, BECAUSE EACH ONE IS THE BEGINNING OF A VERY NECESSARY CONVERSATION.”-INTRODUCTION BY MARIAM KHAN
What does it mean, exactly, to be a Muslim woman in the West today? According to the media, it’s all about the burqa.
Taking one of the most politicised and misused words associated with Muslim women and Islamophobia, It’s Not About the Burqa is poised to change all that. Here are voices you won’t see represented in the national news headlines: 18 Muslim women speaking frankly about the hijab and wavering faith, about love and divorce, about feminism, queer identity, sex and the twin threats of a disapproving community and a racist country. Funny, warm, sometimes sad and often angry, each of these essays is a passionate declaration, and each essay is calling time on the oppression, the lazy stereotyping, the misogyny and the Islamophobia.
I don’t know how to tell you – the importance of this book. Islam, Muslims are often looked at with a suspicious lens. More so, Muslim Women are often pitied for being the front face of oppressive culture. While it isn’t entirely false that certain extremist do interpret the culture to suit their patriarchal needs, this book focuses on the flip side of Muslim women. It sheds light on the difference between Islam and Muslim Culture. because both these terms are almost never seen individually.
We have 18 writers and each of their words stand out. They talk about their prominent hijab identity, gender and racial discrimination and their struggle to draw the line between their culture and religion. A choice that is solely their own and cannot and should not be the norm for anybody. I am only listing two of the essays that stood out to me more than the others. Although, every one of them brings with it a unique voice and theme.
LIFE WAS EASIER BEFORE I WAS WOKE – YASSMIN MIDHAT ABDEL-MAGIED
Yassmin from Sudan tells her story – being a female,a migrant an African and a Muslim. She worked on the rigs in men’s clothing’s and was always doubted on her capabilities in a masculine work environment.
You can choose how to live your life, even if you’re completely different from the norm”
A story of gender inequality anybody will relate to irrespective of religion. This essay is a subtle message to the world that the Burqa or being a female doesn’t hinder career choices.
FEMINISM NEEDS TO DIE- MARIAM KHAN
Mariam grew up in a community whose cultural understanding of Islam denied equality of sexes and rarely left room for female voices, let alone female empowerment.
Mainstream feminism suggests that my choices and values can’t exist within it’s framework – if i make the decision to dress for my faith than I must be oppressed or submissive.
When she enlightened herself to Feminism she realized although she is a feminist, western feminism isn’t for her. She is a woman, also Muslim and a person of color and those identities cannot be separated and has the freedom to follow what she wants. This story hit me the hardest. Feminism and Islam goes hand in hand. It doesn’t oppose either of their core foundations.
As a person of color myself, I can confirm it’s not only Muslim Women facing oppression.
Islam is a religion that empowers women. And yet, for many young Muslim Girls, their understanding of Islam comes entirely from a series of cultural interpretation of their faith dictated by patriarchy.
Overall, It’s Not About The Burqa – an anthology of Muslim Women by Muslim Women gives voice to the unfiltered narrative in hopes to enlighten Islamophobic people.
Published: February 21st 2019
Genre: Nonfiction| Anthology
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