Salaam, John Austin!Posted: January 20, 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 John Austin!
An excerpt from John’s story, “Planet Zero”:
I asked myself: What are you expecting? In the U.S. it isn’t often that you see an Arab woman and a black man together. Part of the reason for my flight from the U.S. was my disaffection over the state of my life as a Muslim. I had fallen off the “Muslim Wagon,” and my spiritual and social pursuits had ground to a screeching halt. I found myself isolated, with only the judgments of my supposed peers to keep me company. I had interacted with many flavors of Muslims and most of those interactions were disappointing. To some I was not strict enough. With them I faced accusations that I craved secular life because I maintained my pre-Muslim friendships and I’d gone on dates with women. Certainly I wasn’t holding out for a rishta. Why, then, invite more disappointment into my life?
To read more, order Salaam, Love today!
Q&A with John
Tell us about yourself
I am an African American born in Ohio and raised in DC. I converted to Islam 15 years ago and this is my first foray into non-fiction. I normally write science fiction and have published a couple of short stories in a couple of minor publications overseas. I run a website dedicated to writers, particularly writers of color because I am fascinated with the emerging stories and narratives that have until now been muted by societal inequities.
I have a novelette hitting Amazon in July 2014 entitled “6,000 Light years to Mecca” Which is a fiction piece about the challenges of being a Muslim in intergalactic travel and conflict.
Why were you drawn to this project?
I was drawn to this project by the original compilation of stories from Love, InshAllah. While reading those stories I decided that I could tell my own story while at the same time broaching a topic that get’s glossed over all too often. There are many issues that contemporary Muslims struggle with, and often the issue of race becomes part of the backdrop rather than the point.
What was the most challenging part of sharing your story?
The great challenge of telling the my story was not the potential for disapproval from my family. As a person who has never been comfortable seeking acceptance from others, it was difficult to admit through the course of writing it that I had indeed done just that. It was also difficult to lay bare the details of a rejection that deeply affected me, and still does to this day.
If there’s one thing you hope that readers will take away from your story, what is it?
Muslims are Muslims are Muslims are Muslims. As with any group some are good some are bad. I think part of the point of “..and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another….” is about getting to know one another. It is about discerning those of good quality from those of bad, and keeping company with them. Whether they simply be friends or artistic collaborators, or more. It is part of the test, and part of the point, of this life.