Sexy Fun and What’s Up with “Halal” Sex Shops

Snapshot of the online store. Source

Growing up in Mexico, immersed in a culture that debated “Western” values and was skeptical of its imports, I spent my early years in a society that taught me from the beginning that my sexuality was not mine, but someone else’s. Even when the institution of marriage started to crumble and common-law unions became more common, women’s sexuality was still viewed as taboo and their pleasure was considered unimportant. I actually recall my best friend’s grandma, in elementary school, telling us that … [Read more...]

9 Things That Make Ramadan Memories Special to Me

Suhur at the open yard of Sultan Eyup Mosque.

Ramadan is here! And although its true essence is all about our pursuit of spiritual elevation, we – Muslims – celebrate it in every way possible. Thus, special memories about Ramadan are engraved in our hearts, and I would like to share some of mine here.1. I was born in Ramadan: When I was a little kid, I thought this makes me special. Ramadan is a holy month and I always believed that anyone born in this month is holy or maybe a wali (saint)! This was my childhood wishful thinking, for I’m … [Read more...]

More than Breast Friends: Kinship and Muslim Milk Banks


Breastfeeding may seem like the most natural thing in the world, but for a percentage of women it can be terribly challenging -- especially if they cannot produce enough milk or refrain from breastfeeding due to medical reasons such as severe illness, accident, HIV infection, or taking certain medications that can harm the baby through breast milk.As I've mentioned in another post on breastfeeding in Guinea, it's widely accepted by health organizations that breast milk is the optimal food for … [Read more...]

Gardens of Water: Teacher’s Guide

This post was written by guest contributor Rahela Choudhury, whose initial review of Gardens of Water can be found here. Other writing by Rahela is available here, here, and here.This second post about Alan Drew's novel Gardens of Water will serve as a critique of the book’s accompanying teacher’s guide. In particular the focus will be on how this guide, while leading readers to reflect on certain aspects of the character Irem’s life, manages to either minimize or altogether disregard some … [Read more...]

Book Review: Gardens of Water

Cover of Gardens of Water. Via IndieBound.

This post was written by guest contributor Rahela Choudhury, and contains spoilers about the book. Alan Drew’s Gardens of Water focuses on how two families become forever intertwined after a devastating earthquake wreaks havoc upon their lives. The story takes place in a Turkish town on the outskirts of Istanbul. The two main families in the story, one consisting of Kurdish refugees and the other of American expats, reside in the same apartment building. The Kurdish family is composed of Si … [Read more...]

Film Review: Unveiled Views

Moshagan Saadat. Image via Women Make Movies.

“When someone wants to be an artist, because they cannot let what’s going on around them stay the same, achieving fame in the world of art becomes unimportant.” –Alma Suljevic I am a lover of all art forms, including cinema; the Women Make Movies initiative, and the kind of varied and thought-provoking cinema they help produce, has always captured my interest.Alba Sotorra’s 2009 film Unveiled Views was a movie I could sit and proudly watch on my own, or even watch with family. … [Read more...]

Majestic Mosques and Simple Kindness: A Turkish Start to Ramadan

One of the Blue Mosque's minarets, just after fajr prayer

Up until this year, my Ramadans had all been spent in Canada.  While I often hear people around me reminiscing about the festivities and exuberance of Ramadan “back home,” I have come to appreciate the quiet suhoor mornings by myself, and intimate iftars with friends that have become part of my own Ramadan traditions.  But when I was making plans to attend a conference in Turkey in mid-July, I knew that I wanted to stick around to taste at least the first few days of Ramadan there.As it turne … [Read more...]