Salaam, Zain Omar!

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 Zain Omar!

Zain Omar

Zain Omar

An excerpt from Zain’s story, “AwkwardMan”:

I often think awkwardness is my superpower. No one else I know has such a deft way of turning an ordinary situation into a hot mess of confusion and apprehension…

I like to think that AwkwardMan could be a new superhero—maybe not one invited to the same parties as Batman and Superman, but definitely part of the nerdy group that includes Quailman and Captain Planet. I imagine that my superhero cape would be just a little too long and loose fitting, something that would get caught in a doorway as I made my triumphant entrance to catch the bad guys. Then, as I stumbled clear, it would rip in half. Not to be deterred, I’d attempt to halt them with a catchy and powerful tagline, but mispronounce a word or have trouble projecting the phrase loudly enough, and they’d stop briefly, struggling to understand what I’d said. “AwkwardMan Inconveniences Bad Guys!” would be my signature headline in the newspapers.

To read more, order Salaam, Love today!

Q&A with Zain

Tell us about yourself

I always find it hard to define myself – it seems to bring about a brief existential crisis of “Who am I really? What am I truly about?”

But, the brief summary is that I have grown up both in England and in California, currently work in marketing and recently got married (hi Zaiba!). In terms of interests, I am passionate about watching and playing soccer and have been writing in some way since college – mainly for myself but also in some way for previous jobs.

I wish I could call upon some other impressive pieces of work but my biggest achievement in writing so far is being featured in Salaam, Love. Unless you count ghost written articles on the security industry (thank you PR job) or detailed blog posts about marketing techniques as interesting pieces (I don’t).

Why were you drawn to this project?

I read Love, Inshallah and was inspired to share my own story. As I started writing, I realized that it was much harder than I ever expected to share something so personal, but I also found it somewhat cathartic to write it all down.

What was the most challenging part of sharing your story?

I’m naturally somewhat private and reserved, so sharing something so intensely personal was, and still is, very challenging. I am concerned about the reactions of people I know and people I used to know. Thankfully I recently read a quote from Infinite Jest that helped put me at ease: “You will become way less concerned with what other people think of you when you realize how seldom they do.”

If there’s one thing you hope that readers will take away from your story, what is it?

I hope the reader can see that it was only after I reflected on a bad situation that I was able to have a different take on it. Looking back, I realized that although it was a hard time, it also gave me many moments where I was able to laugh and grow. I learned that words said in anger didn’t reflect a mean person and perhaps didn’t merit an intense reaction from myself.

It’s helped me deal with current situations a littler better and I try to remind myself when I can that if things seem bad now, there’s hopefully at least some aspect of it that you can learn from and laugh about later.

Anything else you want to share?

This was just one side of my own story – I’m biased towards making it sound sympathetic to myself but there are probably other ways of looking at it.

Also, writing has really helped me get through some difficult situations – whether it is writing in a journal just for myself or as a short story like this, I’d really recommend it to everyone to help gather one’s thoughts and reflect on situations to see that it wasn’t as bad as you might have thought when going through it.