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Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women Paperback – February 17, 2012

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Praise for Love, InshAllah

"[P]ortraits 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." - New York Times

"[A] book that erases preconceptions of what it must be like to be a Muslim woman in this country, a book that strips off the traditional trappings of Islamic womanhood to expose the special strengths and vulnerabilities that lie beneath." —Washington Post

"[T]he stories transcend stereotypical conceptions with humor and heartbreak; which is to say, with humanity…the collection does not unveil repressed, obedient girls, but willful women whose search for love is at once complex and joyful." - The Brooklyn Rail: Critical Perspectives on Arts, Politics, and Culture

"Love InshAllah [goes] to a place where few, if any, books have gone before. Lesbians, co-wives, converts to Islam, Shia, Sunni, black, brown and white: Every voice is unique. Collectively, they sing of strength, passion and love. One can't help but to sit back and listen, captivated." —Samina Ali, author of Madras on Rainy Days

"A beautiful collection that reminds us all not only of the diversity of the American Muslim community, but the universality of the human condition, especially when it comes to something as magical and complicated as love." —Reza Aslan, bestselling author of No god but God and Beyond Fundamentalism

"Individually, the stories in Love, InshAllah will entertain, educate and perhaps shock you. Together, they are a tribute to the collective power of storytelling, inspiring and empowering women of all backgrounds to claim ownership of their bodies, desires and dreams." —Firoozeh Dumas, author of Funny in Farsi and Laughing without an Accent

"Love, Inshallah is an important book that America needs to embrace. It debunks many of the myths about Muslim-American women and their sexuality, which has been demonized, fetishized, and grotesquely misunderstood. Deep, funny, sad, revealing, and illuminating, this book will touch your brain, your heart, and perhaps several other organs." —David Henry Sterry, bestselling author of Chicken

About the Author

Ayesha Mattu is a writer and international development consultant. Her first book, Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women was featured globally by media including The New York Times, NPR, BBC, Washington Post, The Guardian, Times of India, Dawn Pakistan and Jakarta Post. Ayesha is an alumna of Voices of Our Nations and a member of the San Francisco Writers' Grotto. She is currently working on a companion anthology to Love, InshAllah and writing a non-fiction book about three generations of Pakistani Sufi women.     

Nura Maznavi is a civil rights attorney, writer, and Fulbright Scholar. She has worked with migrant workers in Sri Lanka, on behalf of prisoners in California, and with a national legal advocacy organization leading a program to end racial and religious profiling. She lives in Chicago.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Soft Skull Press; Original edition (February 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593764286
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593764289
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (111 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #392,404 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Sarah on February 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
(This review was originally published on my blog A Muslimah Writes)

With the very conscious agenda to dismantle stereotypes and perceptions about Muslim women and love, Love InshAllah gives a glimpse into the richness, plurality, and self-actualization inherent within American Muslim women's love lives. It holds the enormous potential to astonish both Muslim and non-Muslim audiences, albeit for different reasons. This post is one Muslim woman's reaction to reading about her fellow Muslimahs' love lives in this remarkably candid, courageous, and soul-stirring collection.

Love, InshAllah, at first, brought me face-to-face with a glaring prejudice I have unconsciously created about what for me is fair game for love stories.

When Bollywood started to produce movies that involved more explicit love scenes, I remember my best friend, the least prejudiced person I know, saying "Aurgh, I don't want to see that!" I chuckled: "So, what, it's okay if white people do that onscreen?" She tried to explain what she felt: "No, but that's brown people. That's us!" Thanks to the media's disproportionate portrayal of what particular acts should look like or whom they should involve, having intimacy is being acted out by people of "our kind" can be temporarily disorienting for even the least ideologically prudish Indo-Pakistani Muslim ladies like myself.

I confess that, on some level, that's what I was feeling when I read Love, InshAllah. It's one thing to know, abstractly, that those stories are out there. Before reading this collection, I did know about gay Muslimahs, about the niqabis who have multiple sexual partners, about Muslim children having to live dual lives because they could not conform to their parents' standards.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Rima on January 21, 2012
Format: Paperback
I must admit that I was expecting some typically similar and sugar-coated
stories with cheesy endings (yawn). To my surprise, each story was
strikingly unique, heart-felt, and honest. Most importantly, the stories
were well-written and captivating. Once I started reading the anthology, I could not stop.
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20 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Viola Chen on February 29, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a non-Muslim American, who likes to be generally worldly and culturally sensitive, I was drawn to this book because I love love. Love is one of the most universal human experiences; it is powerful enough to breakdown boundaries and unify people of all different backgrounds. With this book, I was ready to be charmed by some love stories and to be enlightened about the Muslim-American experience. Instead, I should've prepared myself to be disappointed.

Before I purchased the book, I downloaded the Kindle sample and was immediately drawn into the first story, "Leap of Faith." It is what I think of as a traditional Muslim love story, one in which the marriage is arranged and love doesn't necessarily come before marriage. An arranged marriage may seem very foreign to non-Muslim and non-Indian Americans, but, as this story depicts, love can prevail. This young woman's heartwarming story makes you believe that love can appear anywhere, even in arranged marriages; you just need to take that leap of faith.

This first story prompted me to purchase the entire book of some two dozen stories. Unfortunately, not all of the stories are as good as the first one. In fact, many are not good at all. Despite the fact that the editors sought diversity, the stories all seemed to meld together for me after awhile. Most of them are very forgettable and not particularly well-written. A few stories aren't about love at all, but rather lust. Other stories end abruptly, leaving you feeling unresolved and shortchanged.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A. E. on August 18, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
As a 20something year old, Arab-American girl who has grown up as a Muslim in small-town, USA... I love this book. I made my sisters and mom read it, too, and they loved it. Each story is unique. It warmed my heart, startled me, and made me a little uncomfortable (that's a good thing.)

Any American or otherwise "Westernized" Muslim girl will be glad to read this and realize... we are not alone.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By RhymeWriter on January 21, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I never would have thought I'd so appreciate and enjoy the memoirs of all the contributors to this anthology...i'd recommend it all the 'manly men' who normally wouldn't give this book a second glance. Actually, most of the men in these stories make us look pretty darn good! And, of course, the women---they are compassionate, loving and brave to let us peek into their hearts.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Barenblat on January 21, 2012
Format: Paperback
I'm really glad to have read this book. These essays are meaningful, poignant, and powerful. I'm so grateful for these glimpses into the lives of American Muslim women, all of whom feel to me now like cousins I'm glad to finally know.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Marie E. Laconte on July 29, 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Book Review: Love, InshAllah
The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women

Though Islam is growing in America, one bumps up constantly against ubiquitous incompatibilities between Islam and Western culture. Nowhere is this incompatibility more prominent than in an American Muslim woman's search for a mate.

The stories in this book reveal the problematic position of American Muslim women who would like to get married. They must either make compromises, or take a hard line with respect to their religion, further limiting their chances for finding a mate in a society that is still composted of mostly non-Muslim residents. Some of these writers have shaved the edges off Islamic teachings , even to the extent of doing haram behavior, knowingly, deliberately. The instinct to find a mate and establish a family often takes precedence over familial and religious dictates regarding how to do so.

Islamic customs, which relied heavily on community relationships, now operate in an anemic facsimile of their original effectiveness. American customs for dating, sex and marriage, are not officially available to these women.To make matters worse, Muslim communities in the United States are composed of people from varying cultural and linguistic traditions. American Muslim women sit between a rock and a hard place; even men tiptoe across a loose tightrope when courting them.

When the Abrahamic religions were being codified, the human life span was much shorter. Young people did not have to navigate a prolonged period (named adolescence) between childhood and adulthood. Mating occurred at physical maturation. These days, physical maturation plays second fiddle to religious mores that were not written for adolescence or homosexuality.
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