Houston-based author Saadia Faruqi, recently released her debut short story collection, Brick Walls: Tales of Hope & Courage from Pakistan. Deonna Kelli Sayed caught up with Saadia to discuss the book, her interfaith work, and what it is like to live in a chai-free household. Deonna Kelli Sayed (DKS): You are in an elevator with someone and you have a minute to convince them to read Brick Walls. What do you say? Saadia Faruqi (SF): Remember when short stories were in vogue? Well, those times are back with Brick Walls: Tales of Hope & Courage from Pakistan! What’s that, you ask? Well, Brick Walls is a collection of short stories based in Pakistan, my birth country. Although the characters are fictional, the situations they face are very real, very tough and very different from the image of Pakistan in western media. The stories are a portrait of everyday life with all its challenges and realities. The best thing is that they showcase the beautiful aspects of Pakistani culture: the food, the scenes, the people with kindness and courage in their hearts. DKS: How did the story collection come to you? SF: I am a speaker and trainer on all things Muslim, from cultural sensitivity training for law enforcement to interfaith gatherings in churches and classes at local community colleges. For the last several years I was noticing more and more of my students asking me questions about Pakistan: it’s food, it’s culture, it’s people. The questions they asked were innocent but very telling: How did I learn English? dId I live in a house or a tent? Was I allowed to leave my house? I realized that due to international events there was a lot of media coverage of Pakistan, but not really a lot of accurate information, and Americans were curious to learn more. I write a lot of non-fiction and opinion pieces, but I decided that fiction would be a different yet perhaps more effective way of sharing the stories of real Pakistanis. Read the rest of this entry »
Be a part of our crowdsourced project #TheFirstTime, a platform to anonymously ask your most pressing questions about sex:
When we started this website three years ago, we were inundated with questions from our readers about love, sex, and relationships – issues covered in our book, Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women. We realized that, for many of us, there isn’t a safe space to voice our most intimate concerns without fear of shame, humiliation, or judgment.
Recognizing that we all have questions – but not all of us have someone to turn to for answers – we launched an advice column. We enlisted the help of two thoughtful and wise friends – Miss Sunshine and Shy Desi Boy – who, over the years, have answered our readers’ burning questions about love and sex and everything in between.
Two years ago, our columnists answered a question from a young man who was “Clueless About [His] Wedding Night.” He wrote that he was at a loss as to what he should do once he and his wife were alone, but had no one he could turn to for advice. Our columnists answered his question with grace and honesty.
Since then, “Clueless About My Wedding Night” has become the single most viewed post on LoveInshAllah.com. It’s clear from the way in which this column has gone viral that there are many others out there who are also looking for answers about having sex for the first time.
We want to help.
Today marks the launch of our newest project, #TheFirstTime, an attempt to make sure you’re not clueless on your wedding night. We want to know: what questions do you have (or did you have) about having sex for the first time? What advice would you give your best friend on his/her wedding night? And, what resources do you wish you had before you had sex for the first time?
This is a crowd-sourced project so we need your help to complete this survey. This is an anonymous survey and we do not want identifying information.
We are excited to partner with HEART Women & Girls, a non-profit organization that seeks to promote the reproductive health and mental well-being of faith-based communities.
For more information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
What we’re reading these days: Sapelo Square, an important online resource for African American Islam. Named after one of the first communities of African Muslims in the United States (Sapelo Island), the website features articles, blog posts and special features and is a showcase for African American Islam in all its diversity and complexity. From the editors:
Sapelo Square hopes to intervene in the marginalization and erasure of African American Muslims in the public square by building an online forum that places African American Muslims at the center. Our goal is to celebrate, document and analyze the experiences of this unique community in order to shed light on its global impact.
Read more, here.
Eid Mubarak from our Love, InshAllah family to yours! Wishing you a joyous and blessed Eid al-Fitr. May all your Ramadan fasts and prayers be answered by the One who is All-Knowing and Loving.
Ed note: Our dear columnists, Miss Sunshine & Shy Desi Boy, are back! Send them your sex, love & relationship questions to email@example.com. And check out our archives to read their previous columns.
Dear Miss Sunshine & Shy Desi Boy,
I am a 27 year old girl, ‘happily married’ with 2 children. I am a prominent Islamic speaker’s daughter. I wear hijab and strive to be a good Muslim. In college, I fell hard for a Non-Muslim guy. We talked for a couple of years, and eventually hooked up a couple of times. With him, when in private, I would remove my hijab. I did not lose my virginity to him (I wanted to share this with my husband); we shared a couple nights together, and those were the best nights I have ever had. To this day, I still think of those amazing nights.
I know from some Facebook stalking that he is ‘happily married’ as well and his 2 children are born within days of mine. In my college days, I felt like I was a different person. I was tired of ‘being good.’ I was sick of the expectations Islam placed on me. I wanted to rebel. I was also in love with this guy. And he was in love with me too. Love makes you do some crazy things.
However, due to religious issues and general compatibility, we broke it off. He would not convert or change his ways, and I knew I needed to settle down with a Muslim man; I have prayed for guidance since then, and am much more settled now in my religion.
There are days in which I wallow. I am ‘happily married’ in that I love my spouse. I have never told my husband nor my best friends about me & my ex hooking up: I do not want my hubby to judge me or think that I am not his first. I do not want to expose my faults, and want to keep these sins a secret, and pray that Allah forgives me. I know I am my hubby’s first.
I am writing to ask, how do I efficiently move on and not think about my ex? There are months in which I am fine, and other days in which I feel like someone has punched me in the gut, days in which I am sore, days in which I miss the way my ex used to kiss me, the way my ex and me used to laugh together. Am I normal to still think of him from time to time? I feel like a horrible person in that Allah has given me so much, and yet there are days in which I eagerly yearn for the past.I also feel horribly guilty in that if someone were to look at me, they automatically think I am a ‘good’ person, a daughter of an Islamic speaker, and a good Muslim wife & mom. But deep down inside, I have deep, dark secrets.
I need help to move on.
Miss Sunshine replies:
Brenda Myers-Powell was just a child when she became a prostitute in the early 1970s. Here she describes how she was pulled into working on the streets and why, three decades later, she devoted her life to making sure other girls don’t fall into the same trap. Some people will find Brenda’s account upsetting.
I was a prostitute for 25 years, and in all that time I never once saw a way out. But on 1 April 1997, when I was nearly 40 years old, a customer threw me out of his car. My dress got caught in the door and he dragged me six blocks along the ground, tearing all the skin off my face and the side of my body.
I went to the County Hospital in Chicago and they immediately took me to the emergency room. Because of the condition I was in, they called in a police officer, who looked me over and said: “Oh I know her. She’s just a hooker. She probably beat some guy and took his money and got what she deserved.” And I could hear the nurse laughing along with him. They pushed me out into the waiting room as if I wasn’t worth anything, as if I didn’t deserve the services of the emergency room after all.
And it was at that moment, while I was waiting for the next shift to start and for someone to attend to my injuries, that I began to think about everything that had happened in my life. Up until that point I had always had some idea of what to do, where to go, how to pick myself up again. Suddenly it was like I had run out of bright ideas. I remember looking up and saying to God, “These people don’t care about me. Could you please help me?”
Read Brenda’s entire account, here.
In Love, Inshallah, Aisha Saeed eloquently introduced readers to her traditional, Pakistani match-made love story. When she met her future husband, Aisha already knew that she wanted to write about a story different than her own – a fictional account of Naila, a young Pakistani-American girl, who is forced into marriage.
Aisha fully explores Naila’s journey in her first young-adult novel, Written in the Stars, released in March 2015 from Penguin Nancy Paulsen books. Publishers Weekly says the book “…movingly conveys the intense cultural pressure that motivates Naila’s parents and the heartbreaking betrayal Naila feels as she is deprived of her rights, cut off from the outside world, and threatened with shame and death.”
Deonna Kelli Sayed speaks with Aisha about how she met her husband, the initial trepidation dealing with an often cliched subject matter, and her involvement with We Need Diverse Books. Listen to the interview after the jump!
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