I Speak for Myself: American Women on Being Muslim

You have no idea how excited I am to hear that this book was put together and will be released in May 2011.

One of the writers, May Alhassen, is an acquaintance and is also one of the performers for Hijabi Monologues.

This book is soooo important right now. A few experiences and conversations I had over the weekend really reminded me how important is it NOT to speak for other people–how important it is to let each individual speak for themselves, tell their own stories, give their own perspective on issues–no matter how tempting it is to give “answers”.

I attended a Latin Americanist conference over the weekend where I met other Latinos and Latinas who were surprised (in a good way) that I converted to Islam. Two men asked me if I converted for a husband. In a nice manner, I laughed and said “no, no”. Some conversations were longer than others and some were filled with questions I simply couldn’t answer. While I love to talk about Islam, I really tried to stay away from situations where others expected me to speak for the community. Oftentimes, I found myself repeating “I can’t speak for anyone but myself. That has been my experience…”

One Puerto Rican (an animated, friendly and genuinely interested PhD cultural anthropologist) said that he preferred to ask me questions he’s always had (regarding Muslim women) because other Muslim women seemed unapproachable.  I understood that people feel more comfortable with individuals to whom they can relate (ethnically, culturally, age-wise, etc). I had to emphasize that my answers only represented my own worldview–nothing else. I don’t know if I disappointed him, but I felt unethical answering questions for such a diverse and complicated community. A lightbulb came over my head during our last conversation and I directed him to this book. I hope that it will, insha’Allah, give him (and others) insight into the diverse experiences of female believers in the United States.

In short, get this book. Suggest it to individuals interested in a Muslim women’s perspectives. Spread the word!

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