Love in the Time of Islamophobia

Eds. Note: Big love to our Love InshAllah community for four wonderful years! Our site is going on hiatus but we hope to be back with more stories soon. In the meantime, keep telling yours.

Tanzila Ahmed

Tanzila Ahmed

I’ve always been a sucker for a good story – and a happy ending.

Ever enamored by the RomCom, I always pictured myself as the clumsy, awkward but affable protagonist of my own 90 minute, wittily narrated romance. In my story, taking fake boyfriends to Desi weddings, having a hot doctor that stars in telenovelas, and having a back-up baby-daddy for my geriatric uterus were a part of my off-color but meaningful RomCom story. It’s why I loved being a part of the book Love Inshallah, so much – for the first time I saw my narrative side-by-side with 24 other Muslimah’s love stories. It gave me hope that maybe there was a love story for me as well.

I always imagined that the end of the Radical Love column would come when I had fallen in love with the perfect man. In my mind, I thought that after two years of writing about the intersections of grief, love, faith and social justice that I would be able to make someone fall in love with me through my words alone and that closing out my column with a “happily ever after” ending story would make my readers (and myself) content. Finding love was never the point of writing this column – redefining love as a 30-something single Brown Muslimah-American with social justice values was. But I harbored this little romantic hope that with words love could manifest.
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How many racists have I slept with?

Ramy-Eureka on the madakat

Ramy Eletreby

For the first time since 9/11, I am afraid to leave the house.

Even when the bombs started dropping on Afghanistan and Iraq, my naive 20-something self at the time was certain I’d be safe here in the U.S. Especially here, in Southern California.

People always tell me how laid back and “West Coast” my vibe is, right down to the relaxed cadence in my speech. I was confident and comfortable in the knowledge that I was from here. Those distant wars were not about me.

Today, things feel different.

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Beyond the First Time: Feeling Safe, Loved and Desired

Eren Cervantes-Altamirano

Eren Cervantes-Altamirano

This post addresses heterosexual and cissexual dating and sexuality.

There is a lot of talk about the first sexual experience in the context of Muslim marriage. From advice on what to do, the halal and the haram and first-night etiquette to attempts to making Muslims feel at ease with the concept of the wedding night. There are columns encouraging Muslim women to relax and not getting stressed about their first time. There are also media articles about Muslim sexuality, halal sex shops and its respective critiques. But the reality of things is that the focus remains towards that first interaction in the context of marriage.

But what happens if, as a Muslim woman, you are not in that place, time or mindset?

I will be honest with you. I am not a virgin, and I absolutely hate the label. Sexuality is not divided in two. It is not about the virgin state and the rest. It is not about good and bad, and it definitely cannot be defined through the experience of the first time.

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Advice: Marry for Sex or Stability?

Dear Miss Sunshine and Shy Desi Boy,

I’m in a bit of a dilemma and need your help. I’ve been introduced to three boys as potential marriage prospects (rishtas). I am not attracted to two of them and find it hard to imagine having sex with either of them. While both boys are virgins and have very good careers and other good attributes, I don’t have a very open relationship with them in terms of communication. They are of a traditional mindset which I am not.

The third boy whom I’ve been introduced to is not a virgin and is also not well settled in his career. He has had sex with many women before. However, I am very attracted to him and can imagine myself having sex with him. The only problem is that I am a virgin and find it hard to trust him with his past sexual history and am worried he may cheat within marriage. I have been able to talk to him about everything from money to even how frequent he would like sex with me if we do get married as well as his previous sexual history and my concerns regarding the same.

Is attraction very important to enjoy sex? Do you think it is possible to have a fulfilling relationship with someone you are not attracted to? I know financial stability is also important. I’m just confused as to whether I should marry for money and comfort or marry for love…considering life it not really a fairytale.

Thank you for your help.
Sex or Stability

Miss Sunshine replies:
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Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex but Were Afraid to Ask: The Muslim Edition

#TheFirstTime logo

A reminder to be a part of our crowdsourced project #TheFirstTime, a platform to anonymously ask your most pressing questions about sex:

The survey closes on Monday, August 17th, so get your questions in today!

Some background about the project:

When we started this website three years ago, we were inundated with questions from our readers about love, sex, and relationships – issues covered in our book, Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women. We realized that, for many of us, there isn’t a safe space to voice our most intimate concerns without fear of shame, humiliation, or judgment.

Recognizing that we all have questions – but not all of us have someone to turn to for answers – we launched an advice column. We enlisted the help of two thoughtful and wise friends – Miss Sunshine and Shy Desi Boy – who, over the years, have answered our readers’ burning questions about love and sex and everything in between.

Two years ago, our columnists answered a question from a young man who was “Clueless About [His] Wedding Night.” He wrote that he was at a loss as to what he should do once he and his wife were alone, but had no one he could turn to for advice. Our columnists answered his question with grace and honesty.

Since then, “Clueless About My Wedding Night” has become the single most viewed post It’s clear from the way in which this column has gone viral that there are many others out there who are also looking for answers about having sex for the first time.

We want to help.

Today marks the launch of our newest project, #TheFirstTime, an attempt to make sure you’re not clueless on your wedding night. We want to know: what questions do you have (or did you have) about having sex for the first time? What advice would you give your best friend on his/her wedding night? And, what resources do you wish you had before you had sex for the first time?

This is a crowd-sourced project so we need your help to complete this survey. This is an anonymous survey and we do not want identifying information.

We are excited to partner with HEART Women & Girls, a non-profit organization that seeks to promote the reproductive health and mental well-being of faith-based communities.

For more information, please contact us at

Advice: I want sex but am not ready for marriage

Dear Miss Sunshine and Shy Desi Boy,

I’m a recent college graduate, taking a year off before beginning graduate studies in the fall of this year. I am very serious about my professional goals (getting a Ph.D. and becoming a professor), and I know that to realistically achieve these, I should not get married for several years. But here’s the problem. I find myself wanting to have sex. What should I do to make this desire go away? (I’m not open to sex outside of marriage.) Should I consider getting married early? I think this is professionally unwise, but do you know of any success stories of married Ph.D. students??

Lonely Grad Student Read the rest of this entry »

Zahra Noorbakhsh takes Manhattan

Comedian and Love InshAllah columnist Zahra Noorbakhsh takes on NYC at the Muslim Funny Fest!