Saturday, October 20, 2012

Book Review: Love InshAllah - The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women

“Love Inshallah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women,” edited by Nura Maznavi and Ayesha Mattu, is not for the faint of heart. It is, however, a brutally honest and eye-opening look at the oft-overlooked romances of self-identifying Muslim women. 
From stories of traditional arranged marriage and the struggle of marrying outside one’s own culture, to finding love, losing it, and rediscovering it in the most unexpected places, “Love Inshallah” is a one-of-a-kind anthology. 
The contributing authors are from almost every type of race, cultural background, age, and affiliation imaginable; as such, some of the stories may make some readers feel uncomfortable. What must be kept in mind, however, is that it is all too easy to judge others, but far more difficult to accept the vastly differing experiences that contribute to the multi-faceted, sometimes paradoxical Muslim Ummah. 
The stories in “Love Inshallah” are neither saccharine nor fraught with over-politicized analyses of Muslim women’s sexuality. Rather, they are frank, open accounts that read more like a close friend’s trusting disclosures. Complete with humor, heartbreak, and the recognition that Allah – Al-Wadud (the Most Loving), al-Hakeem (the Most Wise) – teaches us through these love-ridden experiences, “Love Inshallah” will move you, entrance you, and shock you.
Perhaps one of the most unique features of this particular anthology, especially given its subject matter, is that it is not limited to the narrow representation of one particular “stream” of Muslimah. Conservatives and extreme liberals, born Muslims, converts and reverts – all are included, and all share their stories honestly and openly. 
Familiar names to SISTERS magazine (S. E. Jihad Levine and J. Samia Mair) write alongside anonymous and previously unpublished authors. Together, these women force all readers – Muslim and non-Muslim alike – to recognize and acknowledge the decidedly pluralistic, un-monolithic nature of The Muslim Woman’s Experience. 
Whether or not one agrees with the lifestyles and choices discussed within this book, it will most certainly provoke a great deal of thought. Perhaps more importantly, it provides a much-needed glimpse into the lives of Muslim women, and hopefully create the opportunity for empathy amongst those who have previously had no exposure to this significant and influential group.

AnonyMouse enjoys exposing and challenging herself to new experiences (mostly via the literary form). She particularly relishes getting into controversial subjects most likely to elicit shock and scandal.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Marriage Bandits

Exposing the Marriage Bandits: Originally written for SISTERS Magazine, September 2012 

Zainab bint Younus exposes the hidden abuse of marriage fraud that occurs within the Muslim community and warns vulnerable sisters how to avoid it.

Muslim communities around the world face many challenges, from both within as well as outside sources. Certain issues, such as poverty and substance abuse, are widespread amongst all races and religions. The Muslim community, however, also has problems unique to itself.
One particular phenomenon has come to be known as that of “marriage fraud” – a problem found in both the West and the Muslim world, although its occurrence has been more widely documented in the West. Most cases of “marriage fraud” are recorded to take place in certain areas of America, Canada, and the UK, although there is evidence that it also occurs in other Western and Arab countries.

Shaykh Younus Kathrada, a South-African born Canadian imam has provided Islamic counseling and support services for over 20 years. He identifies the “marriage bandit” phenomenon as being when Muslim men and who claim to be knowledgeable and pious Muslims, prey on vulnerable women and convince them into marriages, only to use and abuse them, and leave them soon thereafter.  Some of these individuals have married and divorced women countless times, passing them around to their friends and treating the women like a disposable commodity. (Read more)