‘Salaam, Love’ counters stereotypes of Muslim men

January 31, 2014

 

Oppressive. Boorish. Misogynist: Those are the popular images of Muslim men and how they treat women.

But there’s more to it than that, thought Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi, the editors of “Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women.”

Many Muslims welcomed the two women’s 2012 collection of 25 stories as an overdue conversation starter. Soon they got flooded with requests for a male version.

They initially dismissed the idea, assuming men wouldn’t want to write so openly about such intimate matters. But as the queries kept coming, the two editors decided a Muslim male version wasn’t that far-fetched, and given the stereotypes of Muslim men, much needed.

“So much has been said about Muslim men, we thought it was time for them to tell their own stories in their own words about what’s important to them,” said Mattu, 41.

The result is a collection of 22 stories, “Salaam, Love: American Muslim Men on Love, Sex, and Intimacy,” to be released next week by Beacon Press. The writers from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds, hold beliefs that range from secular to orthodox, and include straight, gay, single, married, and widowed men. The editors received more than 100 submissions over five months.

“Salaam, Love” seeks to counter stereotypes of Muslim men by offering stories of men who bare their emotions, admit mistakes, bask in memories of true love, recall heartbreaks, and reflect on caring for a dying wife.

The stories range from humorous to heartbreaking, while shedding light on who makes up Muslim Americans.

Sam Pierstorff’s opening chapter, “Soda Bottles and Zebra Skins,” takes the reader on a journey that starts with puppy love, veers into frank tales of teenage lust, and ends in courtship and true love.

RNS.com: http://www.religionnews.com/2014/01/31/salaam-love-counters-stereotypes-muslim-men/

Lifting Veil on Love and Islam

In a new anthology of essays about flirting, dating and sex published on Tuesday under the title “Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women.”

The two editors, Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi, sought to create a book that dispelled the stereotype of Muslim women as mute and oppressed. They gathered 24 portraits 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.

“Inshallah,” the Arabic word for “God willing,” was included in the title because “it captures the idea that everybody is searching for love,” Ms. Maznavi said.

The anthology joins half a dozen books in the last two years that have been written by American Muslim women about their lives.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, American Muslims have agonized about lying low versus stepping forward to convince other Americans that they are not a fifth column. Controversy erupts around even innocuous television shows like “All-American Muslim,” which presented five families in Dearborn, Mich., as inherently normal.

American Muslim Women: Negotiating Race, Class, and Gender within the Ummah

African American Muslims and South Asian Muslim immigrants are two of the largest ethnic Muslim groups in the U.S. Yet there are few sites in which African Americans and South Asian immigrants come together, and South Asians are often held up as a “model minority” against African Americans. However, the American ummah, or American Muslim community, stands as a unique site for interethnic solidarity in a time of increased tensions between native-born Americans and immigrants.

American Muslim Women explores the relationships and sometimes alliances between African Americans and South Asian immigrants, drawing on interviews with a diverse group of women from these two communities. Karim investigates what it means to negotiate religious sisterhood against America’s race and class hierarchies, and how those in the American Muslim community both construct and cross ethnic boundaries.

This ethnographic study of African American and South Asian immigrant Muslims in Chicago and Atlanta explores how Islamic ideals of racial harmony and equality create hopeful possibilities in an American society that remains challenged by race and class inequalities. The volume focuses on women who, due to gender inequalities, are sometimes more likely to move outside of their ethnic Muslim spaces and interact with other Muslim ethnic groups in search of gender justice.

American Muslim Women reveals the ways in which multiple forms of identity frame the American Muslim experience, in some moments reinforcing ethnic boundaries, and at other times, resisting them.

Jamillah Karim is Assistant Professor in religious studies at Spelman College.