It took Shelina Zahra Janmohamed ten years of fixed blind-dates to find Mr. Right. An arranged marriage? Poor thing. A tradition that is “oh so old-fashioned,” and “uncool,” and receives instant sympathy. But guess what, Shelina’s story is anything but a misery memoir.
Love in a Headscarf is an uplifting, honest, and, for a change, humorous account of a British Muslim woman in search of “the one.” It was recently launched in India and is currently number 2 on the bestseller list.
She makes her own choices and celebrates them; she “chooses” to wear a scarf and “chooses” to have an arranged marriage.
Says the author:
“Have you ever seen a book about a Muslim woman that has happy smiling woman on a pink cover? I really hope that my book will herald a whole new raft of stories which express how so very many Muslim women lead their lives and which share the same worries, concerns and hilarious experiences that other women go through too.”
Through tea-and-samosa rituals, plenty of undesirable suitors, hilarious aunties and their requirements, Shelina manages to address a number of issues Muslims face today, in respect to marriage, identity, and spirituality. She is able to explain with ease Islamic beliefs, rituals and the status of Muslim women as per their religion.
Her writing is fresh, quick-witted and successfully overturns commonly held notions about Muslim women across the globe. The book is off the beaten path; it deviates from those recurrent tales of oppression, abuse and forced marriages that surround Muslim women.
“Many people have said that they think I’m brave by writing my story so honestly. But I think the only way that we can grow is to read other stories and realize that the aspirations and ideas that we hide so closely in our hearts are not always unique to us, that we are in fact sharing the dreams of many, and through that realization we can come to make our own dreams come true I don’t suggest that people should live the same kind of life that I have, or make the same choices as me, or even agree with my choices, but simply that by learning about other ways of being, people can realize that there are many acceptable ways of being a Muslim, being a woman, and to be brave enough to live their lives with their convictions.”
Love in a Headscarf won the Best Published Non-Fiction prize at the Muslim Writers Awards last year. Shelina has been internationally recognized through her award-winning blog Spirit21 and is also a commentator on Islam in Britain. She was named as one of Britain’s “most influential Muslim women” by the Times and the UK Equalities Commission and lives in London.