Cultural Cartography: Randa Jarrar’s A Map of Home

A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar is a book that does not fall into a category easily.A Map of Home provides the vivid portrait of a girl, who is Muslim, who is Palestinian and Egyptian and Greek and from Kuwait and born in America, who fulfills her parents’ expectations and dashes them fiercely. Randa Jarrar’s first novel is the story of Nidali, told in first person, through her childhood and adolescence.From the beginning of the novel, with the tale of the protagonist’s birth, A Map of Home is … [Read more...]

Smell of Success: a Review of Skunk Girl

Skunk Girl is Sheba Karim's first novel. It is told from the point of view of 16-year-old Nina Khan, self-described as "a Pakistani Muslim girl" and from a small white town in upstate New York. Although published in 2009, the story is set in approximately 1993.In a fast-paced, entertaining read, Nina narrates her life and drama as the only Pakistani and Muslim girl in her high school. She deals with worries about school and boys, as well body hair and strict parents.Karim keeps a … [Read more...]

A Principled Pageant?: Saudi Arabia’s Miss Beautiful Morals

News media reported at the beginning of the month that Saudi Arabia will hold its first beauty pageant, now in its second year. This pageant, unlike the standard pageants that feature contestants in various outfits and judge them on their appearance, is looking for "Miss Beautiful Morals." The contest, open to women ages 15 to 25, will not take physical appearance into account but judge contestants on their "inner beauty," based on interactions with their mothers. The 10-week contest is in its … [Read more...]

Surprise! FOX News Reports are Islamophobic and Sexist!

If FOX News does anything well, it's obvious bias. A recent article, titled, "Muslim Women in U.S. Struggle to Balance Western Freedoms and Islamic Culture" makes no attempts to hide the opinion of the writer and the message she wants to convey to her readers. Each line is so riddled with assumptions and misconceptions, I don't know where to begin. The whole piece makes me cringe. Let's begin with the title. "Muslim women in U.S." makes it sound like all Muslim women come from elsewhere. How … [Read more...]

Aliyah’s Choice: The LA Times’ Profile of a Lesbian Muslim

It wasn’t but several years ago when a Google search for “gay Muslims” or “lesbian Muslims” turned up few results on actual people, mainly just pages on why homosexuality is a sin in Islam and perhaps one or two articles, usually focusing on men. Since then there’s been an increase in profiles on people who struggle to reconcile — or not reconcile — the two identities. Films like Parvez Sharma’s A Jihad for Love (2007) and the Channel 4 documentary Gay Muslims (2006) have added to coverage on th … [Read more...]

Ask Me No Questions: Tell Me No Stereotypes

This post continues my look at the portrayal of Muslim women in young adult fiction.Marina Budhos is not a Muslim. She is not an immigrant. But the daughter of an Indo-Guyanese father and a Jewish-American mother, Budhos has had a strong interest in the stories of immigrant teenagers. Her book Ask Me No Questions: A Novel, published in 2006 by Atheneum, explores the story of Nadira, a 14-year-old Muslim girl who is an undocumented immigrant from Bangladesh.The book is one in the recent … [Read more...]

Does My Head Look Big in This?: A Look at Muslim Women in Young Adult Fiction

If you’re looking for Muslim teenagers in young adult fiction, you’ll be hard-pressed to find many good examples. There are plenty of Orientalist novels about exotic Muslim girls in distant lands. A standard example is the narrator of Shabanu: Daughter of the Wind (Suzanne Fisher Staples, 1991), who at age 13 is forced into marriage with a man over 50 who already has three wives. Western Muslim women don’t fare much better. Until recently, Jehran of Caroline B. Cooney’s The Terrorist (1999) repre … [Read more...]