Love In A Headscarf By Shelina Janmohamed

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GENERAL REVIEW

Love is not specific to the ‘One'; it is about showing compassion to fellow human beings and other creatures and treating them as you would like to be treated and most importantly, showing love for your Creator.

Reading about Shelina’s life was a very pleasant experience. She began her book by envisaging that she is telling us her story over a cup of coffee and, while reading, I actually felt like I was sitting with her in such a place, listening to her relate her story.  I laughed at all the right places, shook my head sadly when things got a little depressing, brooded thoughtfully over her reasoning and rejoiced when she finally met her ‘One’.

What made this book even more enjoyable was that was that the author and I share a similar upbringing and cultural and religious experiences. I was even able to cringe when reading about her first introduction because it bought up memories of my first introduction, buried deep between memories of Horrible Hairstyles and First Days Of School. As for her Six Stages Of Self Pity, I was shocked at how accurate they were; my friends and I can list them off by heart!

Shelina’s deep insight into her life and faith encouraged me to probe deeper into my own character and appropriately question my ideals as a British, Muslim woman within the confines of culture. My respect for the author increased chapter by chapter;  we all know that it takes courage to stand up for what you believe in against what society wants you to believe.  This theme even extends back to the time of great Romantic authors such as Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau.

At the end, I came to the conclusion that I have a lot to learn about myself and about my religion, but nevertheless, I am optimistic about setting off on my own spiritual  journey. After I’m done with discovering the world and it’s hidden secrets, maybe then I can write a book about my experiences too!

Overall I was very pleased with the book, although at times, in particular when the discussion revolved around history or philosophy, my attentiveness to what was being said burned out somewhat. I was more interested in reading on and discovering how this analysis related to her life experiences (and when I did so, I was not disappointed). Personally, I believe that I have a lot to experience and learn before I can understand and truly appreciate the reasoning put forward in the book.

Also, I did wish that the author revealed more about the ‘One’ when he finally made it into the story. Having read about all the terrible situations she was put in with Syed (Mr. Cricket Lover), Mobeen (Mr. Practical Joker) and Khalil (just Khalil-I can’t even place a description for that guy), I was justifiably eager for more details about Mr. One. I just felt like it was over so quickly, but since it was a (very) happy ending, it was still worth it.

MEMORABLE QUOTES

  • “An opulent grand wedding was always the climax of a love story. This was how life was supposed to be for everyone, and if you didn’t achieve it, you were a failure. Love was supposed to simply ‘happen’ if you waited long enough, and if you were beautiful enough.”
  • “The goal of looking for love must never excuse the bad behaviour that some think it does. Rather, what you search for, the way you search and, most importantly, how you deal with the people your search takes you to showcases your own character.”
  • “I learnt about the map of my esoteric world through Islam. Through parables, sayings, and teachings, the landscape of a human being and her soul was described. I needed a partner to accompany my on this journey, and if I was to have a travelling companion, he would need to share the same map as me. How else could we journey on the same path?”
  • “Good brains do not necessarily mean good character.”
  • “The different cultures, histories, religions and heritages of being a British Asian Muslim woman had made me who I was. Those different strands were not burdens, but instead gave me a unique perspective so that I could see things from many different angles.”
  • “Allah says that He created the human being in order to be known. To be known requires someone or something to do the knowing. Allah also says that He created the human being in order to be loved. To be loved requires someone or something to do the loving. For God to be known, to be loved, someone or something has to do the loving and do the knowing of the Creator. Human beings are the best of all creatures, and they exist to know and love the Divine. We’ve been created for the very simple and single purpose; to love.
  • “Why did men not feel the same way about what a good match we would make for them? It seemed to me that the answer was that women had been forced to redefine themselves through the opportunities and experiences they had lived through. Femininity had changed and been updated by the challenges we had faced, and the outcome was stronger and more centred women. What appeared to be missing was the challenge to men to trigger them to update their own notions of masculinity. Instead of rising to the challenge, some of them now felt at worst threatened by the lively, energetic women who wanted a proactive spiritual and material life, or at best uninterested in them.”

RATING

I hereby rate Love In A Headscarf by Shelina Janmohamad as A Must Read