Do Muslim women fall in love, or do all of them succumb to arranged marriages? Is an arranged marriage completely loveless in the first place? What happens if a Muslim woman is lesbian? How does she reconcile both identities?
Those questions are left answered and unanswered in “Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women.” InshAllah means God willing. It’s an anthology of 25 love stories told by American Muslim women.
Editors Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi say they compiled them to show that Muslim women aren’t so different from those of other faiths and cultures. “We really wanted to shatter the stereotype held by many that Muslim women are a monolith -- that we are all submissive, repressed and lacking agency over our lives,” said co-editor Maznavi.
In this collection, no two stories are alike and each tale is more than a simple love story. That’s partially because the women come from a variety of backgrounds – black, white, Arab, converts, lesbians, Sunni, Shia, South Asian. The stories are told with raw honesty and vulnerability. They share complex, underlying themes that these women face as they navigate hybrid identities while searching for a sense of belonging as Muslims – many of them daughters of immigrants – in the United States.
How do American Muslim women navigate love, culture and identity? How do faith and love intersect? What’s it like to struggle between honoring culture or religion or both without losing who you are?
Nura Maznavi, Co-Author, “Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women” (Soft Skull Press); Civil Rights Attorney & Writer
Nijla Mumin, Contributor, “Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women”; Film Student