In all my years of buying and reading different books, I had not been able to relate to any one of them on a personal level, with the sole exception of self-help books. After reading ‘Love In A Headscarf’ by Shelina Zahra Janmohamed, however, I was compelled to change my views. A narration of her own life story, the book will definitely speak in volumes to women, especially those belonging to the Muslim faith.
A portrayal of our society’s shortcomings
In the book, the authoress depicts her struggle to find the perfect life partner, keeping in mind the tenets of Islam. Using words and phrases from from Urdu/Hindi amid the primarily English text, Shelina incorporates a local flavor in her writing . Beginning with a mild mockery of the South Asian culture, she muses about how all hell breaks loose in the typical households of our part of the world whenever a proposal comes for their daughters.
She does not shy away from criticizing the often negative role played by the traditional rishta aunties, who have nothing better to do but to bombard families with random proposals for their daughters.
The quest for an ideal life partner
Having come across a number of suitors, Shelina goes on to admit that her search for a husband had not been fruitful thus far, but that did not deter her from remaining true to what she believes are the qualities she wants to see in her man. Although her spirits do get dampened from time to time, especially due to social pressure, the writer shows particular gratitude towards her parents for supporting her views and not putting her under any compulsion to do what she was not convinced about.
Her selective approach towards finding the right man did become a point of concern for people around her, especially with her passing age. However, the writer defends her stance saying that Islam has given women the right to choose their life partners and denounces the conventional school of thought that does not allow them with the liberty to do so.
Wearing headscarf in the west
Through her literature, Shelina presents herself as a modern religious woman who is equally devoted to her professional as well as personal life and never found her decision to wear a headscarf as a hindrance in anything she chose to do. She does, however, go on to say that being a London resident, the aftermath of 9/11 did make some of her coworkers and prospective suitors apprehensive about her headscarf.
Recounting her journey, Shelina talks about the challenge of defying conformity when she was expected to give up on her resolve to cover her head. This, she says, would not have been possible without her firm faith in the code of life prescribed by Islam.
My views about the book
Shelina’s biography is an enlightening read, which takes on the task of making women feel confident about their place in Islam and manages to do so successfully. The writer maintains a friendly, conversational tone throughout that keeps the reader amused till the very last page.
‘Love In A Headscarf’ is highly recommended for those who have been on the lookout for engaging and knowledgeable modern literature.