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.
I recently decided to step back from actively searching for someone to marry. I’m serious and interested, but aspects of the Muslim matchmaking process are strange for me.
I lost my beloved wife, Joan, just over a year ago. The prospect of starting over with someone new after sixteen years of marriage is daunting. I am a forty-year-old white American male, but I am also Muslim. Some readers may respond, “So what?” But I’ve discovered that when you are a member of a minority, your identity markers have real impact. And, with 1.7 billion Muslims globally, a lot of cultural practices get mixed into love and (re)marriage.
As a Muslim convert, I have to navigate different cultural spaces to find a Muslim partner. On top of that, I have a biracial and transcultural son. These variables create a mix of opportunity and chaos.
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.
They tell you that to just focus on yourself. The instructions are to become a good Muslim. You pray and you fast. You do not talk to girls or smoke or hit the clubs. You remain virgins while focusing on your careers and education. First you get the bachelors degree because no parent wants a salary of less than $80,000 a year. Every parent you know insist that it is for the best that you save up money and get ahead in your career development.
You listen because you love your family.
“All is change with time / the future none can see / the road you leave behind / ahead lies mystery!” – Stevie Wonder, “All in Love is Fair.”
My mother told me the other day, “You know, I think your brother’s autism saved our marriage.”
Being single in a time of intense want—for a fulfilling relationship, my own marriage, my own family—has made me hyperaware of other people’s marriages. Over the years, I’ve noticed that many marriages, at one point or another, hang by a string. Sometimes the couple recognizes this fragility and this motivates them to make it work. Sometimes couples don’t even know that they’re there, and it comes and goes without their knowing.
I feel like my parents are there right now.
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