Book review: Jewels of Allah by Nina Ansary

When I first heard the title of Dr. Nina Ansary’s latest book, Jewels of Allah, on the life of women in Iran, I must admit I had to restrain myself. In general I’m pretty wary about labelling women as two-dimensional objects, whether in a negative (‘lollipops’) or positive (‘pearl in its shell’) way. Ansary explains that the title is “meant to convey that women, who have been ordained as inferior [by hardline conservative factions] are in fact the jewels of the Creator”.The book promises to t … [Read more...]

Book Review: Faïza Zerouala’s Voices Behind the Veil

I am apparently on a book review kick for MMW, with my last post being about the interfaith anthology Faithfully Feminist, and next week’s post on Michel Houllebecq’s Submission (stay tuned). This week’s book review is for a lovely little book in French, Des voix derrière le voile (Voices behind the Veil) by the French journalist Faïza Zerouala. It tells the story of ten women who have chosen to wear headscarves (one of whom also wears niqab) in France.France is a weird place to wear a headsc … [Read more...]

Making Sense of “the Other”: A Review of Without Shame by Katherine Russell

I am not going to lie, I started reading Without Shame with some skepticism - and I have to confess that skepticism stemmed at least in part from the author's background and previous writing. Katherine Russell is a non-Muslim, white Western writer with a background in poetry and love stories. In 2006 she published a book on stories of people living with cystic fibrosis (endorsed by Celine Dion), but it was only recently that she started writing about “the other.” You can find her reflections on h … [Read more...]

Review: Faithfully Feminist

I really love all that feelgood interfaith stuff, so I was excited to read Faithfully Feminist: Jewish, Christian and Muslim Feminists on Why We Stay.Ok, maybe I balked a little when I found out MayimBialik raved about it, (where do I begin, her flip flopping on being an anti-vaxxer or not, or her buying bulletproof vests for the IDF during a veryquestionable Gaza campaign). But hey, she didn’t write it so I will let it go. Having read other books in the I Speak For Myself Series (see Dia … [Read more...]

Review of Snow in Amman: An Anthology of Short Stories

This post is crossposted at the writer's blog. Snow in Amman: An Anthology of Short Stories is a collection of eleven contemporary short stories from Jordan translated and edited by Ibtihal Mahmoud and Alexander Hadded, with a foreword by Samir Al Sharif which provides a very brief overview of the Jordanian short story for the reader unfamiliar with the literature.As this anthology is aimed to introduce the reader to the Jordanian short story, it could have benefited from a little more of … [Read more...]

Muslim Female Superheroes

I spent much of my childhood and teenage years obsessed with anime and comics. Growing up in Mexico, I was part of a generation that saw the introduction of strong female characters in mainstream media, including anime, comics and TV shows. No more Candy Candy with her eternal emotional conflicts over boys, and no more Hello! Sandybell, who spent several season looking for her mother and meeting boys along the way. Similarly, the 90s and 2000s saw a greater focus towards female super heroes that … [Read more...]

Pick Up Artists: Veiling Misogyny with Islam

*Trigger Warning: Rape, Sexualized Violence, Misogyny* Toronto boasts a wonderfully diverse population. It is probably one of the most diverse cities in the world. And it is also home to the largest Muslim community in the country. There are different Islamic centres, and incredible organizations like Outburst! that advocate for the rights of Muslim women. Toronto also hosts wonderful food festivals, and huge conferences featuring world class scholars and teachers of Islamic knowledge and … [Read more...]


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