Lady Muslim with a Pen: Poetry and Essays


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No Country for Women - Humanism, Secularism, Feminism

For too long Muslim women have been spoken over and left out of conversations where they should be at the centre. The aim of this collection of essays is to give that voice back to Muslim women to speak about their experiences. It's Not About the Burqa features 17 essays from a diverse group of Muslim women, covering a wide array of topics including hijabs, wavering faith, representation in media, queer identity, marriage and divorce, mental health and sex.

These women discuss the pressure they f For too long Muslim women have been spoken over and left out of conversations where they should be at the centre. These women discuss the pressure they feel from both a disapproving community and a racist country. Though this is UK centred, the experiences depicted throughout are identifiably universal. As with every collection of essays, there were some I liked more than others. This collection gives a diverse cross-section of Muslim women the space they deserve in mainstream media to talk about issues that affect them and their community.

Some of these essays are personal, some are more academic, but all are must reads. Feb 20, London Shah rated it it was amazing. Marked as 'Read' but I am in fact still reading this absolute gem of a book. I just really need everyone to hear how brilliant and utterly important it is.

I started reading this beauty the other day and oof Her fierce intro alone is exactly the rallying cry we want and need to hear. Much gratitude and a massive well done to Mariam Khan for putting together such a vital and heartfelt piece of work and giving our usually co-opted and modified voices a direct and unfiltered platform. Sincere thanks and congrats to all the seriously talented contributing authors for sharing their experiences with us. You might think this hyperbole, but it genuinely is.

Always our voices have been filtered through the white gaze, hardly ever reaching the ears of non-Muslims without having been adapted in some manner to fit into one or more of the many pre-existing narratives about us. But here Muslim women speak with you directly. Please listen to them. You will be wiser and kinder and better off for having heard their personal, uninhibited stories.

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It will go some way to undoing a lifetime of the negative, biased conditioning everyone's subjected to, with regards to the lives we lead. I am in utter awe of these women, of how they've reached inside of themselves to reveal such poignant experiences, and then expressed them with such profound truth, humility, passion, and wit. As well as being insightful, moving, and a joy to read, this book is brilliantly entertaining! An absolute must-read, and a gift to us all.

Apr 01, Jessica rated it it was amazing Shelves: favorites. We are not asking for permission any more. We are taking up space. We've listened to a lot of people talking about who Muslim women are without actually hearing Muslim women. So now, we are speaking. And now, it's your turn to listen. One idea that comes up again and again in this anthology of essays by Muslim British women is the idea of superficial representation. Muslim women are being embrace We are not asking for permission any more. Muslim women are being embraced by advertisers everywhere these days, but they are only welcome insomuch as they tap a new market for revenue.

But as soon as one of these women wants to express an opinion—about global justice or racism or life—she is no longer welcome. This anthology pushes back against that kind of representation, and in it, seventeen women stand up and speak their truth. Another idea that frequently comes up is that there is no single accurate representation of what a Muslim woman is: there are as many accurate representations of Muslim women as there are Muslim women to share their lived experiences. And this anthology reflects some of that variety, both in terms of the writers' experiences with Islam and the subjects they write about.

These women write about wearing hijab, the stigma around divorce, the need for open and honest conversations about sex and female pleasure, the importance of registering marriages legally, anti-blackness in Muslim communities, and mental health. I was also glad to see several women addressing the rock and a hard place that many sisters find themselves stuck between when they call out misogynists in their own communities but find themselves playing into the hands of Islamophobes on the outside.

It's Not About the Burqa calls out and shuts down a media establishment that has reduced the existence of Muslim women to various pieces of clothing. I highly recommend this book of strong writing by strong women for everyone. Jun 16, Erika rated it really liked it Shelves: reading-women If the extent of your knowledge about Islam consists of fundamentalists on the news or abusive husbands doing really scary things in novels, this collection of essays will be an eye-opener!

I walked away from this book with a new appreciation of the dangers of confusing culture with religion, as well as the ways that White Feminism fails Muslim women and women of color in general. Each essay focuses on a different issue facing modern Muslim women, but even as a non-muslim, I related to some part If the extent of your knowledge about Islam consists of fundamentalists on the news or abusive husbands doing really scary things in novels, this collection of essays will be an eye-opener!

Muslim Women are rocking the poetry scene

Each essay focuses on a different issue facing modern Muslim women, but even as a non-muslim, I related to some part of almost every essay. Basically, I need to take the misogyny that I have experienced as a privileged white woman and then pile racism and Islamophobia on top just to get a taste of what these women experience everyday.

I'm so glad I selected this to fulfill a prompt for a reading challenge. These women will stay with me for a long time. Feb 28, Basma rated it really liked it Shelves: muslimish , queer-nonfic , non-fiction , race-ethnicity , feminism , arabish. I have very strong feelings about this book. If I would rate this book based on it's impact, I would give it a 5, as the essays that left an imprint far outweigh the ones I felt a bit shaky about. But there were bits and pieces that I didn't agree or jam with and made me waver between 3 or 4 stars, so 4 seems like a good middle ground.

This is a very personal book to me on so many levels. I won't get into all the aspects but it hit home and younger me would have really appreciated reading this an I have very strong feelings about this book. I won't get into all the aspects but it hit home and younger me would have really appreciated reading this and finding comfort instead of scouring the internet trying so very hard to find something to connect with or to help me understand. This is a book that shares the experience of diverse Muslim women. Most of these women are British but not all. From the introduction Mariam Khan writes, "here are essays about the hijab and wavering faith, about love and divorce, about queer identity, about sex, about the twin threats of a disapproving community and a racist country, and how islam and feminism go hand in hand.

More diverse voices are still needed. There were a couple of parts in this book where I have added question marks or have written "hmm" on the side note to express how I either didn't see this a valid point that made sense to me, or it seemed that it contradicted with the message that was being said, or something that maybe I should look into.

There's so much taboo-ness in Muslim communities about questioning and being curious and I can see how even those aforementioned parts would comfort younger people or those blissfully ignorant who are starting to look for answers. And there are as well numerous parts where I felt solidarity and acceptance shine through. I highlighted a lot of parts. I smiled. I felt understood. I related frequently to what's in here. And it introduced me to a lot of great women that I started to follow. Having such diverse people in an anthology collection you're bound to have a hit and miss.

But the very idea that even though these women might have different perspectives here and there, they've all agreed to be in this collection that showcases a lot of different aspects, and to me that says a lot. Not just about the writers themselves, but about how different readers can find themselves and can find a middle ground and acceptance if they want to. Fashion Industry has turned it into a style statement and non-muslim women walking on the ramp wearing designer burqas is being used to signify diversity and representation.

These essays are unfiltered and hit right where it hurts. It is also a way to encourage other Muslim women to come forward with their stories and not give in to this blatant racism and misogyny. Apr 16, Noelia Alonso rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction , read-in Mar 02, Neelam rated it it was amazing. As soon as I first heard about this anthology being published, I knew I had to buy it as soon as it released. A book that is written by Muslim women about their experiences?

Yup I need it! Just reading the introduction had me hooked! It does not represent the experiences of every Muslim woman or claim to cover every single issue faced by Muslim women. But this book is a start, a movement: we Mu As soon as I first heard about this anthology being published, I knew I had to buy it as soon as it released. But this book is a start, a movement: we Muslim women are reclaiming and rewriting our identity.

They discuss so many relevant issues that Muslim women deal with, especially living in the west, from misogyny, racism to islamophobia and taboo subjects in the community and how each of them has been affected by it and how they dealt with it. While reading the essays I would often stop and need to go talk to my husband about the topics that were being discussed. It reignited my passion about speaking out about so many issues that are so common with our communities.

Sufiya was talking about Khadijah ra and how much Khadijah ra inspired her, I felt the same. Khadijah ra has been one of my role models since I was a teenager so it was wonderful to see someone else speak about her and how much she loved her. Just like she did as the wealthiest merchant in Mecca. She made me rethink the way I see diversity in the media, how Muslim women are shown in the media when it comes to brands wanting to show diversity.

I loved reading her essay so much and it sparked many discussions with people I spoke to. She wrote about something that I had been feeling for a while yet I had no one to speak to about it. I felt so seen. I do not take kindly to aspects of my religion suddenly being acceptable, and not only tolerated but celebrating, only when a tall, white model is dressed in my ethno-religious attire.

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She spoke about mental health and what it means to be Muslim and have depression and anxiety. It might change my mood at times, but it does not change who I am, and, most importantly, it does not make me a bad person, especially in the eyes of God. I loved how she spoke about white feminism and how these women, despite claiming to speak for all women are silent or even against how Muslim women choose to dress. It is something that I have seen time and time again.

How discussions amongst Muslim women are often co-opted by white feminists and islamophobes and so we can never really speak for ourselves. We know where we need to go and e know where justice is, because when we fight for justice we fight it for all people, for all our communities. Honestly everyone should read this book. Jun 29, Gianni Reiza Maulania rated it it was amazing Shelves: essays-poem , biography-true-story-etc , modern-contemporary. Picador, It was culture and its contradictions that made my life complicated. Recently I was reading a book about a life of an Afghan girl and really disappointed because it pictured a very terrible life for a Muslim girl.

There was not one decent man, the women were so spiteful and daughters were consider as burden and unworthy, all of which in contrast of what Islam has taught. But this anthology of essays turns out to be amazing! It is mostly about the Muslimah of Indian, Pakistan and African descent but I can relate to most of their stories especially because I think their culture is not that much different from my own. All of them determined to straighten up one thing; how Islam glorify women, cherished daughters, and makes everything simple and easy for us.

Apr 14, Jessikah Stenson rated it liked it Shelves: , non-fiction. This is another example of a book I want only to cheer on because it taught me a lot and highlighted so many important things seriously I went through this with an actual highlighter. However, like many essay collections, it became repetitive and while around half of these essays were flat out amazing, others I felt were lacking by comparison. This is one I'm still gathering thoughts on but would definitely recommend. Apr 16, Michael Storer rated it it was amazing.

I've recommended this to some of my female Muslim students: impactful, painfully honest, and hopefully life-affirming.

It's Not About the Burqa: Muslim Women on Faith, Feminism, Sexuality and Race by Mariam Khan

Mar 03, Charlotte rated it really liked it. Disclaimer: Mariam Khan is a dear friend but this does not mean that I will not review this book honestly. Trigger Warnings: emotional abuse, talks of anxiety and depression, islamaphobia. In our current political climate, and the age of social media, it is impossible to escape the many "divisive" conversations circling in endless news cycles and talk shows.

For some of us, people like me, we are able to to turn off the TV, delete our apps and take a break until we feel comfortable enough to recha Disclaimer: Mariam Khan is a dear friend but this does not mean that I will not review this book honestly. For some of us, people like me, we are able to to turn off the TV, delete our apps and take a break until we feel comfortable enough to recharge and return to them.

But Muslim women do not have that privilege.


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A lot seems to be said about this group of women, and very rarely are they given the platform to speak for themselves. It is not my place to talk on behalf of these women or about their experiences in detail as I cannot relate to these as a white woman. She shares stories about her strict aunt, and her cousin who had to give up dancing because it was seen as "parading herself in front of men.

She shines a light on how representation in the media is not as important as dealing with everyday islamaphobia.


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  • If she posted a new article and received eight notifications on Twitter, she knew that it was probably people sending her vitriol. These are just a handful of the stories that can be found in this collection; many of which will resonate more with other readers than they did with me. It's not possible to create that book. But this book is a start, a movement: we Muslim women are reclaiming our identity. Jan 25, Heather rated it it was amazing Shelves: I've not read a non fiction anthology in ages and picked this up while I had some downtime while being crushed by my dog and pinned to the couch for a while.

    And I couldn't really put it down. Really good collection. Feb 26, Fatima rated it it was amazing. Unapologetically Muslim. Finally a platform for Muslim women without the constraints of having to generalise and explain, this allowed each of the essays to achieve a beautiful depth and give insight and perspectives from so many spheres and intersections of Muslim identity. May 28, Fathima Ashab added it Shelves: reads.

    There is not a single time where muslim women were dragged into spotlight without pointing out at her hijab. If they are to be identified, they are first talked about what kind of clothes they are wearing or having wrapped their heads with hijab or not. I don't know why media is so obsessed with a piece of cloth they have nothing to do with. This book is written exactly to break that stereotype.

    To tell the worl There is not a single time where muslim women were dragged into spotlight without pointing out at her hijab. To tell the world that we are more than what we wear. Inside that burqa, we are just the same as every human being. You can't deny that the modesty of a woman is all anyone obsesses about", says Coco Khan, one of the contributors of the book.

    This book has given voice to topics like feminism, hijab, sex, divorce, sexuality, identity, faith, race, female pleasure and everything that aren't talked about widely or the things that have been ignored or pushed back for a long time. This is about the struggles muslim women face especially in the west. Their anger and their struggle to live their life as 'Muslims and women' is evident through their words. This is exactly the kind of book that should be read by everyone to get a better perspective of our community.

    We have been narrowed down to 'oppressed hijabis who can't even open their mouth to ask what they want' for a very long time. We are more than that. Each and every one of us has different story to tell the world and no one can represent us better than us.

    Lady Muslim with a Pen: Poetry and Essays

    As Mona Eltahawy says, 'We are the ones we have been waiting for. We are the revolution. Be too loud. Swear too much. Go too far. We don't have to watch our religion become racialized. I think they have covered up almost everything muslim women on the whole struggling to speak out. They are all so brave to open up their wounds to give us a story. These stories need to be read widely to empathize and understand what's important for women especially muslim women other than their piece of cloth hijab.

    I would highly-- Highly recommend it. This is for everyone to know and understand and to make this world a better place. Apr 14, Apurva Nagpal rated it really liked it Shelves: non-fiction. Edited by Mariam Khan, they talk about general misconceptions about Muslim women and how they go way beyond their Burqa attire, religion and faith.

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    And not just this, the brief essays by each woman touch the topics including mental health and depression, sexuality, misrepresentation, feminism and white feminism; and the NEED to be included in the conversations about them, they are just pushing forward this conversation. Jun 01, Imo Greenwood rated it it was amazing. May 24, Annie rated it really liked it. This is an important collection of essays written by various Muslim women as a response to the climate in the world today for Muslims everywhere in the wider community.

    Compiled in an effort to dispel myths and set records straight, I admire the sisters who took the time to contribute their essays to this book as it explores a variety themes from faith, culture, Islamic dress, sexual identity and breaks down the stereotypes.


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    • I found some were confronting and some were quite relatable. I recommen This is an important collection of essays written by various Muslim women as a response to the climate in the world today for Muslims everywhere in the wider community. I recommend this as a means to bring understanding among the wider community.

      With special thanks to Pan Macmillan Publishers for sending me a review copy of this amazing compilation. May 01, Dani C rated it it was amazing Shelves: anticipated Wow, what a book! And what an extraordinary group of women. A review of this book needs some careful consideration, so that I can do it justice, but what I will say for the moment is that this book is Important important capitalised on purpose!

      These are voices that need to be heard, along with those of many other women in our society whose voices are left out of the conversation. She is the cofounder of the Muslim American Journalism Association. Taz is an activist, storyteller, and politico. She is the author of a novel, The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf. Kahf, who teaches at the University of Arkansas, has a manuscript of essays on Syria and two poetry manuscripts ready for publication.

      Store Donate. In response to the current political climate, writers from Muslim backgrounds, especially women, are often called on to discuss who they are rather than what they do. This panel will talk less about hijabs and regimes and more about the courage to write freely and the transformative power of art.

      Lady Muslim with a Pen: Poetry and Essays Lady Muslim with a Pen: Poetry and Essays
      Lady Muslim with a Pen: Poetry and Essays Lady Muslim with a Pen: Poetry and Essays
      Lady Muslim with a Pen: Poetry and Essays Lady Muslim with a Pen: Poetry and Essays
      Lady Muslim with a Pen: Poetry and Essays Lady Muslim with a Pen: Poetry and Essays
      Lady Muslim with a Pen: Poetry and Essays Lady Muslim with a Pen: Poetry and Essays
      Lady Muslim with a Pen: Poetry and Essays Lady Muslim with a Pen: Poetry and Essays
      Lady Muslim with a Pen: Poetry and Essays Lady Muslim with a Pen: Poetry and Essays

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