Columbia University hosted the second annual symposium, The Muslim Protagonist: “A Synthesis of Journeys” this past weekend, sponsored by Columbia University’s Muslim Student Association. The event featured Muslim writers, artists, and other emerging creative voices.
An event like this is evidence that Muslim cultural creatives are moving into the space of cultural producers rather than just cultural consumers, inshAllah.
You know the cool part? Our influence is global. And as we celebrate our own identity, we also intersect with humanity on issues of personal struggle, postcolonialism, loss, joy, creativity, carving out our own space, and the big one — love.
The existence of successful Muslims writers, filmmakers, designers, artists and musicians demonstrates to the world (and to ourselves) that we are fully and gloriously human.
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“‘I love you’ scares me,” he admitted, looking nervous. “I’m not sure I know what it even means.”
I sighed with exasperation. It means everything, I thought. You could paraphrase it as I see you. Better yet, I read you. There’s nothing else important to say, really.
I didn’t become a hopeful romantic because of rom-coms or Disney. I grew up without a television in a progressive household, and though my parents have a marriage suitable for any American dream story, I was raised to be an independent thinker. My parents turned gender roles on their heads and upended social norms about race and consumerism without ever uttering words like “feminism” and “capitalism.” Without a TV, books were my first love. Saturdays at the library were the highlight of my week as a child, where I’d pile volume after volume into stacks so tall I could barely carry them. I’d drag them home and arrange them beside my bed in order of decreasing appeal, so the book that most excited me was on top of the pile, ready for me to grab when I woke up on Sunday morning to start my day by reading.
All I heard was the word “friends”.
Everything after that was muffled. To be quite honest, I wasn’t really listening. He could have told me the building was on fire and I would have just kept smiling and nodding.
I was in the friends zone.
Maybe intentionally. Maybe not.
Regardless it was a smack in the face. I thought this is how Biz Markie must have felt. I should have just busted out in rhymes in the middle of the restaurant.
I zoned back into the conversation. As arrogant as it might be perceived I had enough friends and I didn’t want anymore. If my lips could have uttered what my mind was thinking than that is what I would have said. I was looking for a husband, not anymore friends.
I couldn’t say that, it would have sounded absolutely ridiculous.
Love, Inshallah presents an author interview podcast with The Faith Club author, Ranya Tabari Idliby, as she discusses her memoir, Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie: Being Muslim in America.
Deonna Kelli Sayed (DKS): This is Deonna Kelli Sayed for Loveinshallah.com. Ranya Tabari Idliby is an American-Muslim writer. You’ve probably heard of her first book, the celebrated The Faith Club: A Muslim, a Christian, a Jew: Three Women Search for Understanding, which featured an interfaith group of female friends promoting common ground after the September 11th attacks. Ranya is an American-Muslim and a New Yorker who has raised her children in the city.
Ranya’s second book reveals more of her personal journey. In Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie: Being Muslim in America, she focuses on her story as a Palestinian, a Muslim, and a mother negotiating her family’s Islamic identity in celebration of America. The memoir interweaves the stories of three generations: her father came to America as a Palestinian refugee when he was sixteen years old; the details of her own global childhood as a Palestinian raised in the Gulf states, and the experiences of her two American-born children.
Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie echoes the sentiments of Loveinshallah – that Muslims in America – and anywhere, for that matter — can own and celebrate personal truths.
I spoke with Ranya over Skype, where she revealed that her journey started on September 11, 2001, and why these events became a turning point for Muslims all over the world.