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It's Not About the Burqa
Cover of It's Not About the Burqa
It's Not About the Burqa
Muslim Women on Faith, Feminism, Sexuality and Race

When was the last time you heard a Muslim woman speak for herself without a filter?
Shortlisted for Foyles Non-Fiction Book of the Year

'Engrossing . . . fascinating . . . courageous' – Observer

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 who were neither Muslim, nor female?
Years later the state of the national discourse has deteriorated even further, and Muslim women's voices are still pushed to the fringes – the figures leading the discussion are white and male.
Taking one of the most politicized and misused words associated with Muslim women and Islamophobia, It's Not About the Burqa is poised to change all that. Here are voices you won't see represented in the national news headlines: seventeen Muslim women speaking frankly about the hijab and wavering faith, about love and divorce, about feminism, queer identity, sex, and the twin threats of a disapproving community and a racist country. With a mix of British and international women writers, from activist Mona Eltahawy's definition of a revolution to journalist and broadcaster Saima Mir telling the story of her experience of arranged marriage, from author Sufiya Ahmed on her Islamic feminist icon to playwright Afshan D'souza-Lodhi's moving piece about her relationship with her hijab, these essays are funny, warm, sometimes sad, and often angry, and each of them is a passionate declaration calling time on the oppression, the lazy stereotyping, the misogyny and the Islamophobia.
What does it mean, exactly, to be a Muslim woman in the West today? According to the media, it's all about the burqa.
Here's what it's really about.

When was the last time you heard a Muslim woman speak for herself without a filter?
Shortlisted for Foyles Non-Fiction Book of the Year

'Engrossing . . . fascinating . . . courageous' – Observer

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 who were neither Muslim, nor female?
Years later the state of the national discourse has deteriorated even further, and Muslim women's voices are still pushed to the fringes – the figures leading the discussion are white and male.
Taking one of the most politicized and misused words associated with Muslim women and Islamophobia, It's Not About the Burqa is poised to change all that. Here are voices you won't see represented in the national news headlines: seventeen Muslim women speaking frankly about the hijab and wavering faith, about love and divorce, about feminism, queer identity, sex, and the twin threats of a disapproving community and a racist country. With a mix of British and international women writers, from activist Mona Eltahawy's definition of a revolution to journalist and broadcaster Saima Mir telling the story of her experience of arranged marriage, from author Sufiya Ahmed on her Islamic feminist icon to playwright Afshan D'souza-Lodhi's moving piece about her relationship with her hijab, these essays are funny, warm, sometimes sad, and often angry, and each of them is a passionate declaration calling time on the oppression, the lazy stereotyping, the misogyny and the Islamophobia.
What does it mean, exactly, to be a Muslim woman in the West today? According to the media, it's all about the burqa.
Here's what it's really about.

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About the Author-
  • Mariam Khan (born 1993) is a British writer and activist. She is the editor of It's Not About the Burqa, an anthology of essays by Muslim women. She lives in Birmingham.
Table of Contents-
  • Introduction - i: Introduction by Mariam Khan
  • Chapter - 1: 'Too Loud, Swears Too Much and Goes Too Far' by Mona Eltahawy
  • Chapter - 2: 'Immodesty is the Best Policy' by Coco Khan
  • Chapter - 3: 'The First Feminist' by Sufiya Ahmed
  • Chapter - 4: 'On the Representation of Muslims: Terms and Conditions Apply' by Nafisa Bakkar
  • Chapter - 5: 'The Clothes of My Faith' by Afia Ahmed Chaudhry
  • Chapter - 6: 'Life was Easier Before I was Woke' by Yassmin Midhat Abdel-Magied
  • Chapter - 7: 'There's No Such Thing as a Depressed Muslim: Discussing Mental Health in the Muslim Community' by Jamilla Hekmoun
  • Chapter - 8: 'Feminism Needs to Die' by Mariam Khan
  • Chapter - 9: 'Hijabi (R)evolution' by Afshan D'souza-Lodhi
  • Chapter - 10: 'Eight Notifications' by Salma Haidrani
  • Chapter - 11: 'Shame, Shame, It Knows Your Name' by Amna Saleem
  • Chapter - 12: 'A Woman of Substance' by Saima Mir
  • Chapter - 13: 'A Gender Denied: Islam, Sex and the Struggle to Get Some' by Salma El-Wardany
  • Chapter - 14: 'How Not to Get Married (or why an unregistered nikah is no protection for a woman)' by Aina Khan OBE
  • Chapter - 15: 'Not Just a Black Muslim Woman' by Raifa Rafiq
  • Chapter - 16: 'Between Submission and Threat: The British State's Contradictory Relationship with Muslim Women' by Malia Bouattia
  • Chapter - 17: 'Daughter of Stories' by Nadine Aisha Jassat
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 20, 2020
    British activist Khan presents an anthology of diverse and blisteringly intelligent essays speaking directly to the complex experiences of Muslim women living in the West. Contributors discuss why they have or have not chosen to wear the hijab and veil at different times in their lives, and how a recent “Muslim boom” in the fashion world has increased representation while pitting “modern” and “traditional” Muslim women against each other. Discussions of Islamic marriage and family life include YA novelist Sufiya Ahmed on the contrast between the celebrated independence of the Prophet Mohammed’s first wife and the enforcement of patriarchy by Muslim Indian “auntie-jis.” Researcher Jamilla Hekmoun analyzes how Islamophobia contributes to the problem of mental health in a community that associates depression with lack of faith, and Yassmin Midhat Abdel-Magied shares her experiences working in the hypermasculine environment of an Australian oil rig. In the provocatively titled “Feminism Needs to Die,” anthology editor Khan urges mainstream feminists to “decenter themselves and their views of empowerment to include women of colour, trans women, non-binary women, gender-queer people, and women of faith.” Though the particular experiences of American Muslims aren’t voiced, this bold and authentic collection powerfully counters the stereotypes by which Muslim women in the West are judged.

  • Nikesh Shukla, editor of The Good Immigrant An incredibly important collection of essays that explores the pressures of being a Muslim woman today. These essays are passionate, angry, self-effacing, nuanced and utterly compelling in every single way
  • Cosmopolitan Refreshing, insightful and occasionally raw, It's Not About the Burqa is a phenomenal collection of essays by a very diverse range of Muslim women. An absolute must read for anyone wanting to better understand the lives and experiences of Muslim Women in the West.
  • Kiran Millwood Hargrave, author of The Girl of Ink and Stars Wide-ranging . . . engrossing . . . fascinating . . . these essays take a courageous and panoramic view of Muslims
  • Red Magazine A landmark anthology . . . frank and engaging essays on sex and religion, mental health in the Muslim community and queer identity from an impressive selection of writers and activists
  • Akeela Ahmed It's about pushing past the stereotype placed on Muslim women and hearing the individuals themselves; it's required reading
  • Emerald Street Forget the ravings of politicians and pundits, hear from voices who have real, lived experiences across religion, feminism, sex, love and identity, and turn to this nuanced and wide-ranging collection
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Muslim Women on Faith, Feminism, Sexuality and Race
Mariam Khan
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