On My Bookshelf – Love InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women

Love, InshAllah: The Secret Lives of American Muslim Woman by Nura Maznavi and Ayesha Mattu is an anthology that was released in January 2012 by SoftSkull Press.  Here is the synopsis from the publisher:

“Full of warmth and wit, real-life love stories by American Muslim women whose romances are as individual as they are

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.”

I’ve been slowly making my way through these stories and I am very impressed with the diversity and depth of each contributor’s experience. Different backgrounds and cultures are represented throughout, there are those who are born into Islam and others who converted to the faith, but every woman’s struggle is unique and insightful. I say “struggle” because even though these stories are about love and relationships, they are also about the search for self and forging an identity.

I always love “how we met” stories of other couples. There is something almost magical in hearing the ways ordinary moments can become defining ones for two people. But I also love reading about real love, how it endures over time, what happens after that blissful new period. Overall, I am very impressed with this collection of voices. Some of the stories border on the sensational or sentimental, but there is much to admire in the style and skill of many of the writers included in this work. My writing friend Huda Al-Marashi’s piece “Otherwise Engaged” is included in this anthology. Perhaps I’m biased, but I love the snapshot she gives of the young narrator at the time of her engagement – the honest look at the doubts and many complex issues looming around her.

I’m so behind in my blogging (and life, to be honest*) but I will be filling you in on Huda’s work and her many recent successes soon. She is a star on the rise and I’ve been remiss in shouting this out to the world.  Congratulations to all contributors on the publication of this work!

*It is best summed up by this post from Hyperbole and a Half, “This is Why I’ll Never Be an Adult”

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