The Headscarf as Cultural Barometer: Emma Tarlo’s Book on Hijab

In her new book, entitled Visibly Muslim: Fashion, Politics, Faith, Emma Tarlo captures the diversity in the way that Islam is practiced against the backdrop of multi-cultural Britain. Refreshingly, the book did not aim to answer whether or not covering was a part of Islam, and neither did it represent the views of Muslim women as a monolithic body.In her book, Tarlo shows a snapshot of the way in which the veil has manifested itself within the Muslim population of Britain. In focusing on … [Read more...]

Making an Egg-xample of Baroness Warsi

The U.K.'s Conservative Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion Baroness Sayeeda Warsi was pelted with eggs last week while in Luton to give a talk about the war in Afghanistan. Upon attempting to enter into a debate with a group of men heckling her and claiming that "this woman does not represent Islam", she was talked over and ignored.While the egg-throwing is garnering a lot of publicity, the men Warsi attempted to engage in debate deny responsibility, or as the Daily Mail laughably claims, … [Read more...]

Ramadhan Book Club: Our Stories, Our Lives

Our Stories, Our Lives is an anthology of a diverse group of women in Bradford, England, offering a glimpse into their lives and their issues with reconciling their Muslim identities with being British. With the media's daily onslaught on the image of Muslims and assumptions about so-called conflicting alliances (Islam and the West), a "proud British Muslim" would sound like an oxymoron to many. But it isn't, and talking to many Muslims in Britain will tell you just that.The book--edited by … [Read more...]

Sugar, Spice, and Everything Nice: Muslim Women’s Discussion in Britain

Spiced Spare Ribs! A Woman's Question Time was a refreshing hour-long panel/audience discussion that touched on a lot of issues affecting British Muslims, Western Muslims as well as Muslims from around the globe. The women on the panel were four extremely articulate women: Catherine Heseltine (seated on the far left), Khola Hassan (seated next to Catherine), Fatima Zohra (seated on the far right) and Humera Khan (seated next to Fatima). You can view a video of the panel here.When I first saw … [Read more...]

Na’ima B. Robert takes us behind the veil

Normally, whenever I see anything with the phrase "Behind the veil" I automatically cringe and get myself ready for Orientalist stereotypes and generalizations about Muslim women. Na'ima B. Robert's "Behind the veil: the online diary of a British Muslim woman" isn't quite so bad. Although at first glance it does seem that way, especially considering that a picture of a niqabi is accompanies the ad for the piece on the Times website (below left). Robert actually does wear niqab, so that maybe why … [Read more...]

Whose Muslim Life?

The Guardian's Life and Style section has a biweekly series called This Muslim Life. The series consists mainly of vignettes of the experiences of its author, Noorjehan Barmania, who writes on "the life of an Asian immigrant in Britain." The author brings in anecdotes about topics such as multiculturalism in Britain, her childhood in South Africa, the cultural differences she experiences as a South Asian woman in the U.K., and negotiating her relationship with her boyfriend in a context where … [Read more...]

Dispatches Undercover: Islamophobia meets the Muslimahs

Last year, the British program Dispatches went undercover in a Mosque in Britain to expose "radical" Islam functioning in Britain. I'm sure the main point of that program was to scare inform Britons about radical Muslims who lurk in every corner. The masjid in question is funded partly by Saudi (although many masajid around the world are) and at least some of the members subscribe to the Salafi form of Islam (erroneously called Wahhabism in the program). Coming from a city with plenty of … [Read more...]