Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “It's Not About the Burqa” as Want to Read:
It's Not About the Burqa
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

It's Not About the Burqa

4.30  ·  Rating details ·  3,432 ratings  ·  562 reviews
When was the last time you heard a Muslim woman speak for herself without a filter?
In 2016, Mariam Khan read that David Cameron had linked the radicalization of Muslim men to the ‘traditional submissiveness’ of Muslim women. Mariam felt pretty sure she didn’t know a single Muslim woman who would describe herself that way. Why was she hearing about Muslim women from people
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published April 1st 2020 by Picador (first published February 21st 2019)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about It's Not About the Burqa, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about It's Not About the Burqa

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.30  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,432 ratings  ·  562 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of It's Not About the Burqa
Jan 15, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I got into this book because of Mona Eltahawy’s writing and she did not disappoint. That’s literally the only thing that didn’t disappoint about this book. I love her militant, non-apologetic feminism and her unabashed criticism of the religion that’s patriarchal in its core. I think this book suffers from a severe case of what Ali Rizvi (His book The Atheist Muslim is a superb read) calls Islamophobophobia. I understand choices and people’s need to make their own but I also understand whitewash ...more
Gail (The Knight Reader)
Feb 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Actual Grade: 4.5/5

I delayed writing my review, to allow my thoughts to marinate for a few days, before finally putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard). My only hope being that my appraisal of this anthology can somehow translate raising awareness and more importantly interest in a book I feel should be read by all.

I admit non-fiction is not my usual cup of tea, this book however joins my ever-growing list that gives me cause to reconsider that stance. The audacious title: It’s Not About t
Joanne Harris
Deeply intelligent, thought-provoking collection of essays on a variety of topics, by Muslim women of all backgrounds and traditions: an absolute must for anyone seeking to deepen their understanding.
Inderjit Sanghera
Aug 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Khan is able to collect the stories of various female Muslim writers who cover a variety of topics; from race, to sexuality, to fashion and the media, the common thread which runs through all of them is the perception-or lack of-of Muslim women in modern Britain. Frequently marginalised, perpetually fetishized, forever seen via the narrow prism of their burqa, alternatively used as the stick with which to beat Muslim men for their perceived innate misogyny or for their lack of integration, we ar ...more
Zubs Malik
May 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
It's Not About The Burqa is an anthology of poignant, thought-provoking essays by Muslim women who have fallen prey to racism, misogyny and homophobia. I had already started reading this book on my kindle at the start of Ramadhan. These stories are nuanced and passionate and compelling. With a cast of strong women to deliver such a powerful punch this book deserved to be placed on my shelf right next to Girl, Woman, Other. If you know me, you know what a praise this is.

I cannot explain my anger
“Contrary to what we are represented with, there is not one type of Muslim woman.”

Important, powerful, and humbling: this collection of essays shook me awake with every lesson that it taught me. “It’s Not about The Burqa” tells the stories and arguments of Muslim women who are so much more than the hijab they wear. It is high time the world starts to listen.

Although there are some references to English politics, the situations described by these authors are universal. Which (queer) person d
Kamila Kunda
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
If I am tired of how Muslim women are often perceived by non-Muslims, presented in the media and how much their identity is reduced to clichés, I can’t even begin to image how exhausted Muslim women must feel. “It’s Not About the Burqa”, a collection of phenomenal essays by 17 contributors, British Muslim women, offers thoughts on an array of aspects of a female Muslim identity. The authors - intelligent, inquisitive, sharp, sensitive and strong women - write about sexuality and sexual education ...more
May 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
After noticing this paperback stacked in popular bookstores, plastered all over friends bookstagrams and discussed in online blogs, I was drawn to pick up a copy for myself. The title was certainly intriguing, yet the blurb made me wary. After recently coming to terms with my own personal stance on feminism and what it means to be a Muslim woman, I have to admit I was highly sceptical of what this book would offer.

Principally affirming that there is no such thing as one “Muslim woman” identity
Nada Hosny
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
4.75 STARS
It's not about the Burqa is a book that includes a collection of essays by 17 women. muslims women from all around the world, mostly living in the UK.

They talk about their experience of living as a muslim woman in a non-muslim country, some talk about feminism:, some talk about masculinity:, others talk about love, marriage, divorce, sex, technically: everything on our mind.

some wrote it like an essay while talking to an audiance about a particular issue, others wrote it like story,  a
Imogen Kathleen
Jun 04, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I can already tell you that this book will be in my Top 10 2021 reads. Wow.
As with all essay collections, I found some essays more engaging than others. However, I think that the true beauty of this book is in giving muslim women the microphone and allowing them to represent themselves and their own individual thoughts; muslim women are not (despite what the media may suggest) a monolith and a collection like this truly defeats the idea that there is a 'correct' view for muslim women to take on
Katie {awonderfulbook}
It would feel disingenuous in me to give this book anything other than five stars, mainly because I don't feel it's right to judge how people write about their lived experience. This is a book that I learned things from, that made me address misconceptions that I had about Muslim women. I think this book should be widely read, so that everyone can be faced with their incorrect assumptions, and hopefully adjust their views accordingly.

Khan and her contributors highlight the vastly different ways
Saajid Hosein
Sep 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
just read it
Feb 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A full review can be found on my blog, Headscarves and Hardbacks!

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review!

“Every essay in this book is unfinished, because each one is the beginning of a very necessary conversation.”

This is one of the best anthologies I’ve ever read and a much-needed collection of essays from Muslim women on a diverse range of topics including faith, feminism, sexuality and race. Every voice and topic is incredibly distinctive a
Kate (GirlReading)
Sep 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
A superb and much needed collection of essays written by Muslim women as they deep dive into a range of topics including but not limited to race, sexuality, faith, marriage, gender, mental health and the need for feminism to be intersectional.

Each essay is written beautifully, giving new and diverse insight into what it means to be a Muslim woman and perfectly portraying how no one person’s experience can sum up the experiences of all.

A true must read and the audiobook, with the majority of es
Hiba Arrame
I read this as part of my O.W.L.s readathon, Charms subject, a book with a white cover.
Jessikah Hope
Apr 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, 2019
This is another example of a book I want only to cheer on because it taught me a lot and highlighted so many important things (seriously I went through this with an actual highlighter). However, like many essay collections, it became repetitive and while around half of these essays were flat out amazing, others I felt were lacking by comparison. This is one I'm still gathering thoughts on but would definitely recommend. ...more
I have very strong feelings about this book. If I would rate this book based on it's impact, I would give it a 5, as the essays that left an imprint far outweigh the ones I felt a bit shaky about. But there were bits and pieces that I didn't agree or jam with and made me waver between 3 or 4 stars, so 4 seems like a good middle ground.

This is a very personal book to me on so many levels. I won't get into all the aspects but it hit home and younger me would have really appreciated reading this an
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
Overall, I just couldn't like this book. As it is a collection of essays written by different people, some essays were really good (The first feminist, Feminism needs to die, A woman of substance, and On Representation of Muslims in particular), and I really admired some of the authors, but I can't deny that the essays I did not like blinded my overall judgement.

Some essays in this book showed how much their writers lack proper knowledge about some of the basic provisions of Islam, which made ar
Tahoora Hashmi
May 03, 2020 rated it liked it
The title, turns out have hardly anything to do with anything I thought it would be representing (yet in a way it did as if saying Burqa is not the only thing we are made up of, there are so and so qualities, feelings and struggles that come along with it)
When I read a book on Muslims by Muslims, especially women, I expect the best representation ever. The true side of ours, the struggles majority of us face, our needs, our morals etc. Now as the book was a collection of essays by so man
London Shah
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Marked as 'Read' but I am in fact still reading this absolute gem of a book. I just really need everyone to hear how brilliant and utterly important it is.

I started reading this beauty the other day and oof...♥️♥️♥️ The always insightful and knowledgeable Mariam Khan really has outdone herself with this remarkable collection of essays penned by British and international Muslim women. Her fierce intro alone is exactly the rallying cry we want and need to hear.

Coco Khan’s essay (the only one I've
Angela Groves
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
I think in times like these, where fear, hate and misunderstanding is shoved down our throats everywhere we look, this collection of essays is an important, must read for everyone. It brings together the views and experiences of a variety of muslim women, in regards to their faith and how it relates to every aspect of being a woman. From their clothes to their sexual identity. In a world full of white middle aged men telling us how they are mistreated and opressed. This excellent collection of e ...more
Victoria Ray
Jun 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Absolute gem! Brilliant, modern and very important book, not only for muslim women, but for all of us (& especially those authors who are writing about women). #mustread
Jan 27, 2021 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook, 2-5-stars
I've a simple policy:
1. Never trust people who become too offensive about religion.
2. Never trust people who become too defensive about religion.

Unfortunately, at least half of the essays in this book fell in either of the above two categories. It seems targeted at a very narrow set of readers, thereby missing out on the golden opportunity to speak to all women across religions and regions.

While all the seventeen essays are written by Muslim women of colour, I enjoyed only those that narrated t
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-favorites
We are not asking for permission any more. We are taking up space. We've listened to a lot of people talking about who Muslim women are without actually hearing Muslim women. So now, we are speaking. And now, it's your turn to listen.

It’s Not About the Burqa was one of my most anticipated reads of the year, and it did not disappoint. One idea that comes up again and again in this anthology of essays by Muslim British women is the idea of superficial representation. Muslim women are being embrace
Faroukh Naseem
Dec 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
“No one woman can speak for all Muslim Women - for that rich and varied tapestry of experiences, practice, belief and ways of being” - Nadine Aisha Jassat
#theguywiththebookreview presents It’s Not About The Burqa
The quote above from Nadine came on the last page of the book and I think it reaffirms my original decision to not review this book the way I usually try to critically (although amateurly) look at the contents.
17 Muslim women from a wide range of backgrounds share their thoughts about
Apr 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
For too long Muslim women have been spoken over and left out of conversations where they should be at the centre. The aim of this collection of essays is to give that voice back to Muslim women to speak about their experiences.

It's Not About the Burqa features 17 essays from a diverse group of Muslim women, covering a wide array of topics including hijabs, wavering faith, representation in media, queer identity, marriage and divorce, mental health and sex. These women discuss the pressure they f
Krystelle Zuanic
Jun 21, 2020 rated it liked it
Please note this is a 3.5.

This book was an interesting insight into the cultural and social implications of the lack of own voices material that we see from Muslim women, and it provides an interesting gamut of texts from many different women who give their perspectives on life, love, faith, divorce, and a whole plethora of other things. I think perhaps the most frustrating aspect of the whole book is that it could have been so, so much longer, and incorporated a lot more women from many more w
Mar 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As soon as I first heard about this anthology being published, I knew I had to buy it as soon as it released. A book that is written by Muslim women about their experiences? Yup I need it! Just reading the introduction had me hooked!

It’s not about the burqa brings together Muslim women’s voices. It does not represent the experiences of every Muslim woman or claim to cover every single issue faced by Muslim women.

"It’s not possible to create that book. But this book is a start, a movement: we Mu
Iqra M.
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
[ Review revised on 3/10/2019 - Original review posted on 19/9/2019]

I've read many anthologies this year. All three of them are fertile with discussion as they tackle taboo topics and heavy subject matter.

I loved the fact that the chapters or essays are short. They were meant to be incomplete because 'It's Not About The Burqa' aims to start a necessary conversation. The book did spark new ideas that I was open to devour, and hopefully, many more of you will too. It also leaves plenty of room f
Nov 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Highly recommend this selection. Some are really funny, some more emotional and all are extremely interesting dealing with a variety of topics ranging from mental health or queerness to what it's like being both Muslim and Black. I personally also found the little glossary of Arab words in the beginning very helpful since I only knew some of them. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Play Book Tag: It's Not About the Burqa - 5 stars 1 13 Jan 05, 2021 06:13PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Good Immigrant
  • Unicorn: The Memoir of a Muslim Drag Queen
  • Why I'm No Longer Talking to White People About Race
  • My Past Is a Foreign Country
  • Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire
  • Brit(ish): On Race, Identity and Belonging
  • Don't Touch My Hair
  • Headscarves and Hymens: Why the Middle East Needs a Sexual Revolution
  • Whites: On Race and Other Falsehoods
  • "I Will Not Be Erased": Our stories about growing up as people of colour
  • Feminism, Interrupted: Disrupting Power
  • Girl, Woman, Other
  • Queer Intentions: A (Personal) Journey Through LGBTQ + Culture
  • Women Don't Owe You Pretty
  • Taking Up Space: The Black Girl’s Manifesto for Change
  • Like the Moon Loves the Sky
  • XX
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Mariam Khan is an intersectional feminist, diversity-in-books pusher and freelance writer. She is the editor of It’s Not About the Burqa, an anthology of essays by Muslim women.

News & Interviews

We all want to spend more time lost in the pages of great books. That's the idea behind our annual 2021 Goodreads Reading Challenge! It's...
88 likes · 11 comments
“I believe the role of the writer is to tell society what it pretends it does not know.” 4 likes
“I have engaged in enough women’s rights activism to know that the belief “sons are better than daughters'' is a huge problem in some parts of the world. For those who have little knowledge of Islam, there is the impression that women’s oppression stems from islamic teachings. This is simply not the case. In fact, muslim imams preach about the value of daughters often siting that a daughter opens the gates of paradise for their father. Indeed, the person the most beloved to the Prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him, was his youngest daughter, Fatima. Islamic teachings are clear that a father has to fulfill his duty to raise and care for his daughters, and that the obligations go beyond providing financial support. He must provide a safe, peaceful, and loving home environment that is conducive to his daughter’s overall spiritual and moral development.” 4 likes
More quotes…