Islam is possibly the most diverse religion in the world. Expanding from East to West, North to South, it is the faith claimed by 1.8 billion people. But you wouldn’t know that by the Muslim fiction being published. You wouldn’t expect a Catholic from The Philippines to see herself in a story about a Catholic Polish; so how can I, a Latina convert find representation in all these stories about South-East Asian Muslim girls being set up in arranged marriages?
Don’t get me wrong, I welcome Muslim stories though they represent almost exclusively South-East Asians and Arabs. But such skewed representation contributes to Islam being seen as a foreign religion in the West, one practiced only by South-East Asian and Arab immigrants. This image of Islam as un-American. But Islam has been here since the foundation of America. At the time of the Revolution, there were possibly 250k enslaved Muslims (mostly from West Africa) living in the US. Islam played a pivotal role in the Civil Rights movement. American icons such as Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali were unapologetically Muslim. But where are our stories about Black Muslims?
Dr. Seema Yasmin has you covered. Besides the beauty of this book, how encouraging and uplifting and inspirational these stories are about Muslim women across the globe, its diversity is probably its best asset. Muslim Women Are Everything: Danish punk singers, white Latinx rock stars, Iranian mathematicians, African writers, Black songwriters in America and so much more. They are of all races, cultures and backgrounds; and Yasin managed to even find representation within the wide range of beliefs in Islam: Sunni, Shia, Ahmadi, Five Percenters, etc. It is definitely a book I’d like my little one to read and understand that she can be ANYTHING an our faith is our comfort, not a burden.