K's Reviews > Love in a Headscarf

Love in a Headscarf by Shelina Zahra Janmohamed
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Jan 14, 12

bookshelves: memoirs, mideastwomen
Recommended to K by: rivka
Recommended for: shidduch daters

It was fun to read this Muslim woman's memoir and marvel about the similarities between her dating experiences and the courtship system in my culture. The parallels were striking, even in small ways. The involvement of the entire family, the priorities, the traditional values, the power of the "aunties" (middle-aged women who may or may not be relatives and may or may not be nice people) who serve as the gatekeepers between the seeking woman and possible guys and must be humored at all costs, and more.

Having said that, a number of flaws interfered with my enjoyment. I wasn't crazy about the writing, which I often found irritatingly sophomoric and distracting. Focus was lacking as somewhat repetitive ill-fated-blind-date-woe-is-me memoir sections alternated with didactic and sometimes preachy Islam-for-dummies sections. I suppose both aspects of the book were arguably necessary, but I would have preferred a more seamless transition between the two and better editing.

Finally, though reading about the author's reaction to 9/11 as a Muslim living in London was certainly enlightening, I found much of what she said apologetic and one-dimensional as she denied any pro-violent sentiments in the Koran or in Islam. I'm sure I'm not the most objective person on this topic, but I found some of what she said difficult to swallow.

Still, a fast and enlightening read. I'd be curious to hear a shidduch-dater's reaction to the book.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Vegan Well, I think one can look at any religious text and find violence and more positive things too. But, as I am not well educated on religious matters I'm very far from being an expert on this subject.


message 2: by Petra X (new)

Petra X I want a shidduch but I think I am past my sell-by date :-(


message 3: by sysh (new)

sysh sounds a bit like your typical post-9/11 simplification/one-dimension 'Muslim' memoir for a Western audience style book. Surely we're past this sort of thing by now, but maybe some people still need to be talked down to...


message 4: by K (new) - rated it 3 stars

K @Lisa: I agree that probably most religious texts contain passages that could be interpreted as encouraging violence. My sense from the book, though, was that Shelina wanted to deny that this was true of the Koran. I'm far from a Koran expert, but this seemed a bit disingenuous to me and I wish she had handled it more honestly.

@Petra: Never! I'm certain you're not past your sell-by date. I'm not sure you want to do the shidduch thing at this point, though. I think the system is really designed for younger daters who want/need a lot of parental input.

@Saleem: I agree; this seemed oversimplified and one-dimensional to me in its explanations of Islam. Many reviewers also felt this way, I think; they felt that the passages on Islam were superficial and very basic and would have liked something a bit more complex.


message 5: by Lisa (new) - added it

Lisa Vegan Khaya wrote: "I agree that probably most religious texts contain passages that could be interpreted as encouraging violence. My sense from the book, though, was that Shelina wanted to deny that this was true of the Koran. ... the passages on Islam were superficial and very basic and would have liked something a bit more complex. "

What a shame. This book sounds so interesting and if the above had been different I'm sure I'd enjoy the book more.


message 6: by K (new) - rated it 3 stars

K You may like it better than I did, Lisa. But I had a lot more appreciation for Nine Parts of Desire: The Hidden World of Islamic Women than I did for this book.


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