It’s Not About The Burqa was a collection I read earlier this year and found it to be a highlight straight away. Reading and listening to Muslim women speak passionately about their own experiences, on their own terms was beautiful, insightful and made me think alot. A collection of essays from a wide spectrum of women, some of whom I knew and some I was introduced to. All incredible in their own right. I think one of the most powerful statements was right in the intro: “We should be the ones speaking about us”
When was the last time you heard a Muslim woman speak for herself without a filter?
There is a frequent occurrence of Muslim women being spoken for in the media, something the contributors touched on right from the introduction. We are seeing it especially now. Assumptions being made. Opinions being formed. Mainstream feminists arguing against burqas and hijabs in the context of their own agendas. Whole governments arguing against hijabs on the grounds of I don’t really know wtf. One thing this collection highlights is that faith and how you allow it to manifest outwardly is a personal choice and should be treated as such. It’s reflected in the fact that the essays here do not present a singular outlook. The accounts do not mirror each other in cadence or content. Experiences are unique.
The sheer spectrum of thought in the essays show that no two experiences are identical and no singular narrative can be wholly representative. It’s Not About The Burqa is very clear in stating that the aim was not to represent the experiences of every Muslim Woman or cover every single issue faced.
What makes this book so important is that the contributors are Muslim women who are authoring their own narrative, challenging what has been built around them but without them. Speaking about topics as broad as love, queer identity, sex, friendship, colourism, feminism, being caught between patriarchy and racism. There are questions raised about who is presented as a commercially viable ‘fashionable’ Muslim woman. What conditions are imposed for being a ‘good’ Muslim woman by both their families and the wider secular community.
3 Essays for your tabs
Although I could have picked almost all of them- Too Loud, Swears Too Much, Goes Too Far; On The Representation Of Muslims; Feminism Must Die
The physical book definitely stands on its own but I loved that audiobook was so passionately narrated by the authors so I would recommend that!
Around the time I finally got round to reviewing this (late again), a reprehensible, blatantly Islamophobic bill was being passed in France. To be honest, I couldn’t even believe it, there hasn’t even been an attempt to veil the intention. With our phones glued to our hands, there are endless streams of think pieces and posts by people who are unaffected, only invested from a political or academic point. We need to listen to the persons being spoken ABOUT first.
It’s Not About The Burqa edited by Mariam Khan, published by Panmacmillan in January 2020