Romance, dating, sex and – Muslims? In these groundbreaking collections, American Muslim writers sweep aside stereotypes to share their search for love and speak openly for the first time about love, relationships, and sex.
Muslim men are stereotyped as either oversexed Casanovas willing to die for seventy-two virgins in heaven or controlling, big-bearded husbands ready to rampage at the hint of dishonor. The truth is, there are millions of Muslim men trying to figure out the complicated terrain of love, sex, and relationships just like any other American man.
In Salaam, Love, Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi provide a space for American Muslim men to speak openly about their romantic lives, offering frank, funny, and insightful glimpses into their hearts—and bedrooms. The twenty-two writers come from a broad spectrum of ethnic, racial, and religious perspectives—including orthodox, cultural, and secular Muslims—reflecting the strength and diversity of their faith community and of America.
By raising their voices to share stories of love and heartbreak, loyalty and betrayal, intimacy and insecurity, these Muslim men are leading the way for all men to recognize that being open and honest about their feelings is not only okay—it’s intimately connected to their lives and critical to their happiness and well-being.
Advance Praise for Salaam, Love:
“This is a magnificent collection. It’s all here: love, loss, confusion, sex, and more than sex, that magical quest for intimacy. In short, what it means to be human: seeking, finding, losing, cherishing. A wonderful contribution to American Muslim narratives in their own voices.”
—Omid Safi, author of Memories of Muhammad: Why the Prophet Matters
“This diverse and humane anthology documents what heartbreak and hilarity goes down (often in silence) in the American-Muslim community. It should also confuse government agents.”
—Ali Eteraz, author of Children of Dust: A Portrait of a Muslim as a Young Man
“Intimate and compelling, Salaam, Love is a glimpse of the emotional balancing act American Muslim men face as they navigate the demands of faith, family and their own hearts. A must-read.”
—G. Willow Wilson, author of Alif the Unseen
“Salaam, Love is an important book because it sheds light on a subject that is unknown and scary to many Americans: Muslim men and their relationship to love, sex, and intimacy. It’s a book that shows how similar we all are, how much we have in common, when there’s so much hate-based propaganda floating around about how different we all are. But beyond being an important book, it’s also a great read. Funny, sad, cool, hot, counterintuitive, and perhaps most importantly, sexy.”
—David Henry Sterry, author of Chicken: Self-Portrait of a Young Man for Rent
“The contributors are all American Muslims, but there is remarkable diversity from that point. There are converts from Judaism and Christianity, as well as men who grew up devout and men who grew up praying when they felt like it. The religious rules around relationships feature strongly, as one would expect, and they are abided by and flaunted in equal measure. While many of the tales end in marriage, none ignore the flaws and difficulties presented by romantic relationships. Throughout, there are men who lost love, lost themselves and found things they weren’t looking for, as well as those still searching. Whether read all together or in single doses, faith and love abound, and there is no shortage of entertainment.
In the introduction, the editors write, “There’s nothing like a good love story to connect us to one another and also help satisfy our curiosity about the lives of others.” This collection proves the honesty in that assertion.” – Kirkus Reviews
“Simultaneously lighthearted entertainment and an important addition to public discourse around the place of Islam in America…Indeed, the entire collection seeks to offer as much variety as possible, with stories reflecting a broad range of sexuality, ethnicity, religiosity, and romantic success. In this way, it pushes back against common cultural stereotypes of both Muslims and men, showing Muslims with a full range of ordinary American life experiences and showing men with tender and heartfelt emotions that they articulate beautifully. For insiders to the community, this work will prompt joyful recognition as well as thoughtful exploration of different experiences; for outsiders, it will counter one-dimensional negative images about American Muslims. For everyone it will be an insightful, thoroughly charming read.” – Publishers Weekly
And check out the book that started it all…
Everyone seems to have an opinion about Muslim women, even (especially!) those who have never met one. Co-editors Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi thought it was about time we heard directly from Muslim women themselves. You’ll be captivated by these moving, funny, provocative and surprising stories, each as individual as the writers themselves.
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. Whether introducing Catholic beaus to immigrant parents or cyber-eloping as an Islam-convert in a post-9/11 America, 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
‘Sassy, sexy and humorous’ – San Francisco Chronicle
‘[A]n intimate, brutally honest anthology [that] challenges pre-conceived notions about Muslim women and love’ – Christian Science Monitor
‘A book that goes to the heart of Muslim women [and] gives a rare insight into their love, faith and choices’ – The Guardian
‘Together, the stories paint a different picture of Muslim women – with the same yearnings, dilemmas, joys and frustrations as non-Muslim women, while shattering stereotypes of Muslim women as oppressed chattel whose sexual lives are decided by men.’ – Houston Chronicle
‘The anthology…is making a splash in and beyond the Islamic community by shattering stereotypes of Muslim women as oppressed and submissive.’ – San Jose Mercury News
‘[A] bid to bust the silent-and-suppressed myth [through] portraits of the private love lives of feisty American Muslim women.’ – Times of India
‘Candid essays by Muslim women’ – Ms. Magazine
‘[An] intoxicating compilation.’ - Travel + Leisure
‘Courage [is] found in between the words and pages of the anthology, Love, Inshallah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women. – Dawn (Pakistan)
‘When walking through these stories, we forget about politics. We forget the stereotypes the media present to us but we get the key to common understanding. And as we go from room to room we learn to see the women of Islam are not to be generalized but are nevertheless connected by their love for Allah, for life, and for love itself.’ - Succulture (Germany)
‘To publicly challenge the popular misperceptions held by our contemporaries is not only wildly brave, it is essential. Brava to the writers of Love, InshAllah ‘ – Divanee Magazine
Love, Inshallah tells endearing, romantic, troubling, messy, funny, complicated – in other words, human – stories about Muslim women’s searches for enduring love. It illustrates the diverse ways in which Muslim women relate to their religious traditions, families, and communities and makes it impossible to be satisfied with simplistic generalizations about who Muslim women are and what our lives are like.
-Dr. Kecia Ali, Associate Professor of Religion, Boston University
If you want to read one anthology by Muslims in which life, faith, humor, hope and family come together, read this. If you want to be reminded of how there is beauty in the midst of real world struggles, read this book. If you want to get a deep understanding of Muslim women way, way beyond the silly headlines, read this book.
-Dr. Omid Safi, Professor of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Thankfully, the stories in this anthology give us more than crude sexuality or tales of blissful chastity. Rather these women write about real life, where there is triumph and delay, sadness and inexpressible joy. Their stories show what is special about being an American Muslim woman, as well as how united we all are in our hope that God will bring us love, inshAllah.
-Dr. Suad Abdul-Khabeer, Assistant Professor of Anthropology & African American Studies, Purdue University
These are gorgeously powerful women who love men and women, fight and laugh, lie to themselves and hold back nothing. You’ll fall for some and be frustrated by others. You will see yourself in them. And, I wager, you will not be able to put down these stories of women risking themselves for love.
- Dr. Laury Silvers, Adjunct Professor of Religion, University of Toronto and author of A Soaring Minaret: Abu Bakr al-Wasiti and the Rise of Baghdadi Sufism
Love Inshallah is unbelievable in its audacity. Not all of our authors find love, and God and God’s Will are just as often felt by their absence as by their presence. The brutal honesty that these women portray is refreshing and frightening. Nearly every story reveals another aspect of the human condition, and makes you appreciate that even among people who share the same faith, love can mean something very different.
- Dr. Hussein Rashid, Adjunct Professor of Religion, Hofstra University, and Associate Editor, Religion Dispatches
Brilliant! Love, InshAllah, helps paint a careful narrative of tensions, struggles, fears and ecstasy in the lives of these women as they search for love, peace and the Divine. Love, InshAllah will raise controversy and ire among some readers, but the anthology fearlessly paints a portrait of Muslim life that can only find a home in US literature.
- Dr. Arshad Ali, Teachers College, Columbia University
A compelling and moving anthology. Queer, straight, sunni, shia, polygynous, monogamous, strongly practicing or barely observant – this book captures it all. The writers’ humanity and struggle comes searing off the pages, showing that while the path to love is never easy, it can be beautiful. While each story belongs to the unique woman who wrote it, their stories are united by a thread of hope; the very basis of “inshAllah.”
- Susan Carland, Monash University
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
I am Muslim woman hear me zagrat! It is truly with loud, celebratory voices that these 25 women announce themselves as Muslim, as American, and as passionate women searching for love. The bold stories revealed by this diverse group of women take Love Inshallah 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, award-winning author of Madras on Rainy Days
Love Inshallah is an important book that America needs to embrace. It debunks many of the myths about American Muslim 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
Frank, engrossing and refreshingly honest, Love InshAllah is a book full of hidden surprises. For a topic as fraught with controversy as Muslim women’s sexuality, shockingly little has been published on the subject by Muslim women themselves. Love InshAllah is a welcome and timely remedy.
- G. Willow Wilson, award-winning author of The Butterfly Mosque and Alif the Unseen
With a sonic boom, Love InshAllah breaks through the tired sound bytes and stereotypes that can drown out authentic voices of Muslim women. This refreshingly diverse collection of stories about heartbreak, happily-ever-afters, and everything in between, affirms that no one–orthodox or progressive, gay or straight–is immune from the universal hunger to love and be loved.
- Nafisa Haji, award-winning author of The Writing on My Forehead and The Sweetness of Tears
In Islam, women are seen as the manifestations of God’s attributes of love and beauty. These remarkable stories capture what love means to Muslim women today. As the Sufis say, the quest for the beloved is ultimately the heart’s longing to unite with God. Listen with an open heart as these Muslim women reveal their journeys into the divine mystery of love.
- Kamran Pasha, author of Mother of the Believers and Shadow of the Swords
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
Given the damage done by Muslim men, non-Muslim men, and non-Muslim women claiming the sexual lives of Muslim women as their political territory, these stories provide a desperately needed corrective. The authors have created their own spaces. The achievement is profound. Love and religion get mixed up in all of the beautiful, painful, confusing, and liberating human ways. A crucial literary intervention for anyone who can’t see Muslim women as human beings.
- Michael Muhammad Knight, author of The Taqwacores
Love InshAllah showcases tremendous diversity. Each story weaves a different tale about love, sexuality, and the negotiation of faith and identity with lived realities. Yet what makes the book special is its celebration of differences and the ultimate transcendence of love. It is this common experience that connects not just the writers, but also the readers, pulled in as we are to these resonant, human stories told with exceptional skill.
- Asma T. Uddin , founder and editor-in-chief of AltMuslimah.com
Love InshAllah is beauty on paper…Each story is as captivating as the next, the writers bravely peeling back the corners of the heart, inviting the reader into their diverse worlds. Please read this book. It will help you access your vulnerability and the secrets of your own love story.
- Kathy LeMay, author of The Generosity Plan
Meaningful, poignant, and powerful.
– Rabbi Rachel Barenblat, author of 70 Faces: Torah Poems
This illuminating anthology presents stories by American Muslim women on dating, love, marriage, heartbreak, remorse, lust and longing. It’s a work that should be applauded, not only for its rarity and timeliness, but also for its ability to celebrate these utterly normal, healthy, messy, and all-too human discussions about love and sexuality which for too long have been buried under a veil of shame, fear, and self-imposed censorship.
- Wajahat Ali, author of Domestic Crusaders
Love InshAllah is the most moving and emotionally honest book I have read in a long time. These bold new voices share stories that are romantic in the very best sense of the word – by turns intimate, sexy, funny and sad.
- Clare Winterton, Executive Director of the International Museum of Women
How we understand what love and America look like is expanded and made more representative of this country we all share thanks to this collection.
- Alia Malek, author of A Country Called Amreeka
Love Inshallah provides us a rare glimpse into the intimate lives of Muslim women from very different backgrounds. The stories show that although the roadmap may be unique, the destination is universal – to love and be loved for who we are.
- Manal Omar, author of Barefoot in Baghdad
Deeply touching and intimate, the 25 stories in Love InshAllah reveal the elegance and universality of love and faith. Written by American Muslim women of all ages, races and nationalities, they reveal the full range of human experience. A perfect book to upend the stereotypes of veiled and abused Muslim women, these tales are filled with hope and humor and life. I loved it!
- Irving Karchmar, author of Master of the Jinn: A Sufi Novel
If you thought that you knew everything about Muslim women and love, life and relationships, then think again. This collection is challenging and provocative. You’ll be surprised, even shocked at their stories and the honesty with which they lay open their joys, as well as their vulnerable and sometimes wounded hearts.
- Shelina Janmohamed, author of Love in a Headscarf
Each woman’s search for love burns as hotly and uniquely as stars in the night sky.
- Jensine Larsen, founder & CEO of World Pulse
This book is an irreverent, witty reality-check. The women in this book are not only fulfilling a mission close to my heart- telling their own stories as Muslim American women, shattering stereotypes, building bridges- but they are doing so in a way that will entertain you, shock you, and make you fall in love with them.
–Zahra Suratwala, author, editor and co-founder of the I Speak for Myself series