Salaam, Yousef Turshani!Posted: January 8, 2014
Our new book, Salaam, Love: American Muslim Men on Love, Sex & Intimacy, will be released on February 4th. In the lead up to the release, meet our 22 contributors.
Today, meet Yousef Turshani!
An excerpt from Yousef’s story, “An Unlikely Foe”:
Each time I’d been in a serious relationship, I wanted to include my parents. They accepted that I wasn’t eager to be “set up” with a family friend, as is the norm in Libya. They didn’t want to show up on the wedding day to accept complete strangers into our family, either. Yet, each time I introduced them to a woman, they had complaints about her that seemed arbitrary or unfounded.
Nadeah and I transformed from giddy fiancés into a bickering couple. She’d descended into the never-ending winter of her Cleveland law school; I had eighty-hour weeks of pediatric intensive care in San Francisco. This didn’t leave much time for listening to each other’s woes, let alone dealing with two increasingly disillusioned sets of parents living in different parts of the country.
I was in the on-call room during a twenty-four-hour shift when I got Nadeah’s phone call.
“Yousef, I just can’t do this anymore. I can’t marry into a family that rejects me with a husband who won’t stand up for me.”
To read more, order Salaam, Love today!
Q&A with Yousef
Tell us about yourself
I’m an Arab-American [African-American on my more provocative days] whose parents emigrated from Libya as Qaddafi’s true colors were beginning to show- in the late 70’s. I caught the travel bug as a child on our family trips to Libya. Having gained skills that are applicable and found a partner willing to live abroad as well, I’m proud to consider myself a citizen of the world- having lived at least a month in 10 countries, now starting our 4th straight year as expatriates. Living in the tropical island of Saipan, we get to work with the underserved Pacific Islander community as well as scuba dive, play ultimate Frisbee and attend beach BBQ parties.
Why were you drawn to this project?
Nura and Ayesha have been friends of mine since I was fortunate enough to join their halaqah in San Francisco in 2009. I’ve been impressed by the positive response of the first book, Love InshAllah, and when the opportunity to also share a positive unique angle of being a Muslim American in love came up- I jumped on the opportunity.
Too many examples exist in media of negative stereotypes on Muslims. I’ve dedicated myself to being a positive role model as a Muslim in America and I thank the publishers and editors to allow this this Beacon of light to be published (small pun intended)
What was the most challenging part of sharing your story?
Reliving those emotionally tense moments over and over as I read them and objectively trying to edit can be emotionally draining. As of this writing, I have yet to tell my family about the story and the prospect of that is a bit challenging. Though thankfully the conflicts discussed in my chapter have mostly been resolved, it might be a sore point.
If there’s one thing you hope that readers will take away from your story, what is it?
An even stronger reason for me to have written this is to tell people (of all faiths) whose parents’ pose obstacles to them marrying someone they feel is right for them- YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Also to tell them, “you can make it through this tumultuous time and if you two really are compatible for all the right reasons- you can persevere and make a happy life together.”
Anything else you want to share?
I’m proud to be part of this brave group of men. We are among many other immigrant groups the world over who are still figuring out how to make their way in their adoptive nation. From deciding which way we’ll practice our faith to which foods we’ll learn to cook to which people we’ll marry- it’s up to us to create our own narrative. I commend my fellow contributors to Salaam, Love for not allowing our narrative to be written by the majority.