Never met a Muslim? Now you can meet 47



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Original text: Never met a Muslim? Now you can meet 47 in our two groundbreaking anthologies acclaimed by media worldwide:

Love, InshAllah: the Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Womenand

Salaam, Love: American Muslim Men on Love, Sex, & Intimacy.

Meet our 47 fantastic contributors here, and hundreds more who wrote diverse, divergent & provocative pieces for our site for four years after the books were published, below.

Would you like us to talk to your class, MSA, book club, interfaith group, etc.? Contact us here.

Until then – keep sharing your stories. Your voice matters.

When Fairy Tales Fail Us

Fatima M. Jaffer

When a daughter is born into a loving family, she is cherished and treated like a princess and dressed up like pretty little doll with colorful plastic bangles and trinkets.

The beautiful princess is told fairy tales before being tucked into bed. Her mother speaks about the knights that saved Cinderella, Rapunzel and Snow White. Then, this little girl begins to dream of her very own Prince Charming and she starts looking for him as soon as she turns sixteen years old. Some girls get lucky and bump into him without trying. Others have to face mothers, grandmothers, sisters, aunts and cousins who love them as single women —  until they hit a certain age. Then, some princesses find themselves unmarried or maybe divorced and still without children.

At that point, the fairy tales are over — unless you consider the types of mothers/aunties/cousins who are metaphors for trickster witches; it is often women who make girls feel miserable about the state of their lives. No matter how educated, talented and beautiful a single woman may be, she is always sidelined and frequently humiliated because she is unmarried. It seems that some women can’t imagine alternative realities for themselves or for their daughters.

I’m tired of fairy tales. We need new stories about our future that go beyond marriage saving us from a life of ruin and despair.

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Crying and Reclamation


“Love Wins”

I am not always strong.

There are times that I experience steep slopes of sadness. This doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, the sorrow arrives as crude, impolite explosions.

I don’t have everything together, no matter what type of confidence seeps out of my writing. I spend most of my time struggling from paycheck-to-paycheck, too poor to actually date should anyone ever ask me out.  I’m always in a suspended state of fear that this is all my life is going to be: a lonely existence with a salary that is barely livable. I feel like I’m stuck, and inertia is a type of sin in my world.

Sometimes, I feel like I should just give up and claim my rural White heritage. I will move to some small Southern town and live in a trailer park. Forget my complicated identity. Screw my vast life experience. I am nothing special.

There are days I feel like low hanging fruit.

I write this not because I want sympathy, but because I know everyone else feels powerless and hopeless at times. I need you to know that you are not alone.

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The Life and Death of a First Love


First love can be a bittersweet and intense experience, especially if it is unrequited. It can also change us in ways we may not grasp until much later.

I discovered love for the first time when I was seven years old. He was a distant cousin — one amongst many thanks to my large close-knit family in Lahore, Pakistan. We gravitated towards each other, despite the fact that I was the younger, studious little girl while he was a rambunctious boy. We spent our time mostly play acting in our world of Star Wars, space travels and building blocks.

We were sitting in the dirt one evening when I looked at him in wonder. In my seven-year-old mentality, I realized that I loved this little boy. I wanted to marry him so that we could always play together and build castles and spaceships.

From that moment, I knew he was THE ONE. And I didn’t tell a soul.

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Thank you, San Francisco!

A huge thank you to our San Francisco readers who ventured out in the rain last night to our SOLD OUT launch party for Salaam, Love! We’re incredibly grateful for your love, support, and wonderful discussion. A special thank you to our MC for the evening, Zahra Noorbaksh, and to the California Institute of Integral Studies for hosting the event.

Salaam, Love editors & writers (L to R): Nura Maznavi, Sam Pierstorff, Stephen Leeper, Mohammed Shamma, Ramy Eletreby, and Ayesha Mattu

Salaam, Love editors & writers (L to R): Nura Maznavi, Sam Pierstorff, Stephen Leeper, Mohammed Shamma, Ramy Eletreby, and Ayesha Mattu

Check out more pictures from our event on our Facebook page, here.

Next up – Los Angeles! View our full book tour schedule, here.

Salaam, Arif Choudhury!

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 Arif Choudhury!

Arif Choudhury

Arif Choudhury

An excerpt from Arif’s story, “How Did I End up Here?”:

If I was looking for the female version of me, why didn’t I date an American-born Bangladeshi Muslim girl? Because they were inaccessible. Growing up in the Bangladeshi community in Chicago, all of us boys and girls were raised as though we were siblings or cousins. One of the uncles in the community once asked me, “Do you feel as though you can’t marry the Bangladeshi girls you grew up with because you think of them as sisters?” “Exactly,” I replied. “It feels incestuous. They aren’t romantic possibilities. It’s too weird. I’ve been calling all of you uncle and auntie. If I marry your daughter I’d be calling you Abba and Amma—it would be strange to have you as in-laws.” Besides, I thought, you are all so freaked out about dating, how are we supposed to couple up? You would all know if we were going out to the movies or for coffee . . . or who knows what else.

Since our Bangladeshi Muslim parents wouldn’t let us date, we all dated secretly—some sooner than others. We found boyfriends and girlfriends from outside the Bangladeshi Muslim community who were allowed to date. Because of this, a lot of the American-born Bangladeshis—both men and women—in my community began marrying outside our ethnic group and sometimes outside our faith.

To read more, order Salaam, Love today!

Q&A with Arif

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Salaam, Stephen Leeper!

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 Stephen Leeper!

Stephen Leeper

Stephen Leeper

An excerpt from Stephen’s story, “On Guard”:

It was the second year after I’d moved from North Carolina to California. I had moved to escape boredom and childhood memories, leaving Ashley, my beautiful non-Muslim girlfriend, behind. We had been a couple for a few months, but had known each other for two years. She said she would leave with me “just like that”—she didn’t have to see a five-year plan or a five-digit number in my bank account. My promise was all she needed. I left North Carolina in September 2009 and started making plans for our future. By January, she had left me for her white ex-boyfriend, a blow to the Original Blackman’s ego, a carryover sentiment from my Stephen X days.

The next year was one of grief and sorrow filled with bitter, desperate crying when I got up in the morning, in my car between meetings, and in bed at night. Unlike with the Prophet, neither my uncle nor my wife had died, but my hope had, and I grieved. When I met Aliyah the following autumn, I had healed a great deal but was fucking terrified of opening up again.

To read more, order Salaam, Love today!

Q&A with Stephen

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