Patheos/AltMuslim On Ramadan, Forgiveness, & the Shape of the Woman Beneath: Ayesha wrote a piece on this site about being disowned by her mother after the publication of her first book, here. In this follow up piece, she explores her six-year path to inner peace.
Washington Post/The Lily This Ramadan, I’m focusing on fostering tender masculinity in my son In the #MeToo era, we need to talk about how we’re raising the men of tomorrow
M Magazine Constellations of Love Surround You Your love life isn’t limited to your romantic partner
The Establishment Jane Austen And The Persistent Failure Of The White Imagination
Good Girls Marry Doctors anthology essay Without Shame
As a teenager, I was never confident about my body. I was darker-skinned than was generally accepted; I had thicker eyebrows than other girls. I never believed any man would find me beautiful. Unlike some of my fair-skinned friends, who were pursued relentlessly, no one pursued me. There was this one classmate who gave me a little attention, and I really thought he would be the first and the last. How disappointed I was when I found out that giving attention to girls who “weren’t the most sought-after” was just his thing.
I wasn’t one of those calm and composed people. I never looked before I leaped. I was not good at masking my emotions. The term most used to describe me were: frank and photogenic. I hated being called frank. It meant I spoke my mind, and scared people away. I hated being called photogenic. It meant that photographs of me, tricked people into believing that I looked good in real life.
After I started working, I got myself a chic haircut. I believed this change in appearance would change my life. Things did start to look up a little, but only once I left my hometown. I was approached more often. But I was still honest. If I wasn’t interested in someone, I never led them on. If I liked a guy, I usually expressed it. Once I did so, the men who pursued me because they thought I was unachievable, lost interest or shifted their interest to someone less available. I was even referred to as “eye candy” but not girlfriend material. I always felt there was something awfully wrong with me.
In a vibrant new video, journalist Nushmia Khan examines the hands of the Pakistanis she met while reporting.
“With all these hands, I could only see potential — potential in a country that has been deemed a failure by so many,” she writes.
Novelist and screenwriter Kamran Pasha on being a Muslim in Hollywood and having the courage to follow your dreams, whatever your spiritual path.
Gorgeous and wise.
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“Here, I have her bio data from your aunt.” With a gleam in her eye, my mother turned around her laptop towards me. “Take a look.”
Kids, the year was 2006 and the hunt for my other half was in full swing. My parents got emails daily and all the aunties had been Put On Notice. Now, one of them had sent a biodata to my mother. Slightly curious, since I have heard so many good things about this latest prospect – who I was told could be The One – I began to read the email. Her name sounded slightly familiar as I continued to read. University education. Check. Bengali. Check. Muslim. Check. Four years younger than me. Check. Beautiful? Oh. My. God.
“This is…this is-,” I struggled to find the words to explain my perplexity. I KNEW this girl! With an incredulous tone, I told my mother who she was.
Bookstores are my turf. They’re my territory, where I live and breathe. I’m intimately familiar with all aspects of it: from the selling of books (bookseller, two years) to the buying of books (lifetime member of Bookaholics Anonymous, which, like most things, is a figment of my overactive imagination), from the writing of books to the reading of them. I will devour any word on any page.
And yet…there is a part of this kingdom I’ve refused to go near: the fashion and beauty magazines. I ventured into this exotic and dangerous area a few years ago. I looked to my left, looked to my right, stepped gingerly in. The array of lipsticked, perfectly coiffed, exquisitely dressed women both bewildered and terrified me. I skulked for a bit until someone else started perusing the section, at which point I hightailed it back to my political journals section with unseemly haste. Back on solid ground.
Here is where the Venn Diagram of nerd girls and Muslim girls intersects: there is something inherently shameful about a woman paying attention to her own body. One of my favorite blog posts of the year perfectly captures the strangely contradictory dichotomy that both Muslim girls and nerdy girls face. We are simultaneously desexualized and hyper-sexualized by the societies we find ourselves in.
I fear I’ve double-whammied myself on this one.