British Muslim author and blogger Shelina Zahra Janmohamed has a confession to make. Or so she’s been telling The Guardian….
She, like me and countless other young Muslim women love girly books. Call it what you will, chick lit, a la Bridget Jones and all manner of other everyday female heroines floats our boats and offers a welcome alternative to wrapping the ol’ grey matter around more taxing themes.
To cut a long story short: loving girly books don’t mean we’re dumb.
Muslim, She Wrote…
Riveting reads on the highs and lows of live, love and the universe for Muslim women don’t exactly spill off the shelves. You can find a fair selection of books by Muslim women about arranged marriage, and in the oh-so-true words of the author: “shelves and shelves of misery memoir and all these women in black veils with camels walking in the background and titles like I Was Sold Into Marriage.”
However, peruse for chronicles of everyday existence for Miss Modern Muslim in any major mainstream bookstore and you’ll come up with slim pickings.
This is why I for one would like to run up to Ms Janmoahamed, throw my arms around her and give her a big fat kiss for taking the time to sit down and scribe Love in a Headscarf. Half way between girly-book and memoir, Shelina’s candid, sincere and sometimes rib-tickling account of her arranged marriage is a joy to the eyes and mind.
Wanted: Muslim Prince, RSVP to My Parents…
From introduction to honeymoon and beyond, Love in a Headscarf is a gorgeously-written account from a woman who always knew her marriage would be arranged, However, it still radiates the desire of women of all faiths and backgrounds: to find that special Mr.
“I noticed when I started reading [chick lit] it that it was very much about ‘How do you find the prince?’ And what I wanted to do was tell that universal story, but from the perspective of being a Muslim woman.” Shelina tells The Guardian.
A Many-Sided Saga
From her parents’ emigration from Tanzania to London, to her liberal but believing upbringing and Oxford education, the author approaches the issue of faith and feeling with warmth and poise. She dives headfirst into the deep en don issues such as radicalism and women’s rights without preaching or falling into stereotypes or clichés.
It was this open-minded fresh approach the spawned and spurred her successful blog (as spirit21), the predecessor to Love in a Headscarf, a book I’d bet by bottom donut any woman anywhere will love. This is precisely what Shelina Zahra Janmohamed hoped to achieve with her book, as she reveals to The Guardian:
“When I sat down to write it I realised I didn’t want to write a story that was ‘This is Islam and these are the pillars . . .’ People can read that in a text book. I thought I wanted to tell a universal story and the best story to tell is the story of love”.
And it is exactly what she has succeeded in creating. Bravo!