Salaam, Love – A Book on American Muslim Men

Two years ago, the book Love, InshAllah came out. It was one of a kind, narratives of American Muslim women and their stories of love and intimacy. I liked the book, mostly because it really made me reflect and I couldn’t shake it for while. There aren’t too many books that do that.

Now, editors Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi have released another book of narratives of love and intimacy, this time from American Muslim men. Called
Salaam, Love: American Muslim Men on Love, Sex, and Intimacy, the book contains 22 narratives from American Muslim Men on well, y’know.

I was looking forward to it, reading the daily updates on the Love, InshAllah blog with short interviews with all of the contributors with excerpts of their chronicles.

A few days before the release of the book, news website posted one of the stories in its entirety, a story that I happened to be really curious about.*

Um, huh.

People can do what they want, I’m not accountable for their actions as these people have nothing to do with me but man oh man, all I could think about while reading this story was that this guy needed a swift kick in the nards. He writes as though he bears to responsibility for his own actions of cheating on his wife, which is ridiculous and unfair to everyone else in the narrative. And jeez, of all the names to use when picking fake names for everyone in your story, you had to choose “Bushra” for the name of the “other woman,” the one you blame for your complete lack of propriety? *facepalm* I’m not quite sure what Islam had to do with the choices he made but it doesn’t matter if he was a Muslim, Christian, Jew, atheist, or somewhere in the middle – his actions were incredibly messed up.

So yes, I went into Salaam, Love with a feeling that I hadn’t experienced with Love, InshAllah. I wasn’t sure anymore if I really want to read about a bunch of dudes and their inability to express their feelings and act appropriately. And as I started reading, I could feel my inner Holden Caulfied emerge and had to suppress the urge at times to turn to the stranger sitting next to me on my BART commute, where I was do the bulk of my reading, to rant about how a particular writer seemed like a phony.

However, I understood that it’s near impossible to connect with each and every story in an anthology so with each new chapter, I shed whatever issues I had with the previous writer and gave each new one a fresh start. Then, I began to get a greater meaning from the narratives. I’m not saying I missed the meaning in the ones I didn’t connect with – I even went back and finished up one I skipped half way through because I couldn’t deal with one guy and still didn’t really care for it – but there is some really good material here.

These men are all trying to reconcile their faith, culture, and race when it comes to love, intimacy, and expectations as a partner. Sometimes, while dealing with their own inner turmoil, such as depression and anxiety. Other times, mortality, theirs or of their spouses, became tests. I could tell that some of these writers are really delving deep to explore what it is they felt at the time and I appreciated it. More than appreciated – benefited from it.

Maybe some of these men are just as shallow as you figured they would be. Others will surprise you. This book is worth checking out for those latter essays. I would tell you all which ones were my favorite but it could be worth discovering on your own which of these voices speak to you.

*You can search for the story on your own if you like. I didn’t feel like posting it here.

7 thoughts

  1. Thanks for sharing this. It sounds like an interesting book. I am glad you went back and gave it a second chance. It is definitely interesting to see the different perspectives between the genders for sure. I will have to put this in the pile.

  2. Salaams – When Love, InshaAllah came out, I along with some others on a Muslim forum I’m on, sisters included, decided it was TMI lol, so felt that it wouldn’t be on our reading lists.. I was happy with the I Speak For Myself series, which I think I’ve mentioned before on one of your posts.

    Yet, recently, after reading a relfection of this “brother” version, changed my mind. I will try to read both of these books. I’m reading two books right now and one is a long read “Covenants of the Prophet Muhammad with the Christians of the World) so it’ll be awhile, but I think being a 30+ American Muslim, it might be interesting to see how my colleagues are struggling, maybe and likely, in similar ways that I am.

    Here is the link to the reflection I read – I think you’ll like it:

    You may recall, she won Blog of the Year in the Brass Crescent Awards last time around. One of my fav bloggers out there.

    1. Salaam, thanks for the link! I did reads that particular reflection a few days ago and did appreciate it. She liked it better than I did:)

      1. Aha, guess I should have assumed you did :)

        Also, I had read that account on Salon a few days ago as well and yeah, that guy….I know (or hope) that his behavior was a result of marriage, but something that was innately not wired properly in him or he just wasn’t strong enough Imaan-wise. I saw it after Zahro Billoo (no intro needed for her given you’re in the Bay Area) when she tweeted it and I replied to her that it freaked me out, made me that much more scared about marriage (being honest here). In return, she basically said what I repeated above – that it wasn’t necessarily marriage that caused him to act the way he did.

        Lastly, forgive me, but I thought of you when I read the name Bushra in the story :p – I do have a niece in India by that name, but as far as grown up people – yeah you popped up in my mind. Sorry again :/

        Alright until next time, peace out.

  3. What people don’t think about when reading a book like Salam, Love is the female counterparts to all the stories told by these men. There are two sides to every story, and especially in the stories that malign a specific woman we don’t get her perspective at all. As one of those women, I was completely distraught when this book came out and my ex-husband depicted me in a really heartless way that was not at all reflective of the truth, or at the very least extremely one-sided. In our close-knit Muslim community this felt very damaging. I would just caution anyone reading this book to take the stories with a grain of salt and above all, remember not to malign our fellow brothers and sisters.

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