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Today Muslims around the world are observing Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan.
Eid Mubarak to all those who celebrate!
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For years, Zaya has delicately balanced his relationship with his Muslim faith and queer identity by keeping his genderqueer lover and manipulative mother apart. But when his mother ends up in the hospital on the same day his partner is leaving for pilgrimage, Zaya’s worlds come crashing in on each other, opening a space for traumatic memories to resurface.
Acha Bacha boldly explores the intersections between queerness, gender identity and Islamic culture in the Pakistani diaspora. It’s about the way we love, the way we are loved and what it takes to truly accept love.
From biryani to borscht, the food was always fabulous in Canada’s only Polish-Pakistani family. Mariam S. Pal’s memoir, Ballet is not for Muslim Girls, is set in this remarkable Victoria B.C. household in the 60s and 70s. Growing up, Mariam struggled to navigate three cultures: her Pakistani father’s, her Polish-Canadian mother’s and Canada’s, where Mariam was born and raised.
Mariam wanted to be a Canadian girl.
A “normal” first name would have been a good start. At school they called her Marilyn, Marian – anything but Mariam. Hers was the only house for miles that didn’t hand out Halloween candy or put up Christmas lights. When Mariam came home from Grade 1 bawling because she was the only kid who didn’t have a turkey sandwich the day after Thanksgiving, her parents started a roasting a bird each year.
Mariam was determined to be Canadian, fighting hard to attend high school dances or act in a drama class play. Ballet, Brownies forget it. Sleepovers were not allowed. Her martini-loving Muslim father fretted that a bacon and eggs breakfast might be on the menu the morning after.
Ballet Is Not For Muslim Girls is an engaging, fascinating account of Mariam’s search for identity and belonging. Though her journey is sometimes painful, it is always thought provoking. Each chapter begins with an evocative and often hilarious photograph from Mariam’s family album.
Ballet is not for Muslim Girls raises, with humour and affection, the fundamental issues of integration and cultural adaptation that all immigrants, from Adelaide to Quebec to Yonkers, grapple with. Ballet is not for Muslim Girls’ poignant yet uplifting story will appeal to a broad spectrum of readers, regardless of their origin.
Keepers of the Faith is set within a small Muslim sect of India, ruled by an avaricious priesthood that demands absolute submission while enforcing archaic social customs. When a section of the community rebels, it is summarily excommunicated, shunned by friends and family and denied religious rites. The peaceful community is split into two.
The novel follows the fates of two blissful young lovers, Akbar and Rukhsana, in the historic city of Udaipur. When the communal split occurs, their families are on opposite sides; the lovers’ dream of a happy life together is shattered, and they are forced into separate destinies. Akbar, from the rebel group, goes on to become a writer and family man in Mumbai, while Rukhsana gets married to an immigrant engineer from the United States fanatically devoted to the priesthood.
Years later, Akbar’s and Rukhsana’s paths cross again. Much has changed and much has not, and they are presented with soul-destroying choices about the rest of their lives.
Meena’s Story: Flight to Freedom” is set around true events. Covering a span of nearly 80 years. It begins when her mother, Elizabeth stumbles into the arms of a handsome Indian man, Ali, in London. It is love at first sight. Ali has to leave England and return home to Hyderabad. Elizabeth finds it impossible to stay on in England without her love and she boards a P&O liner and surprises Ali in Hyderabad.
Enduring cultural challenges laced with comic and ironic instances, the couple are accepted by Ali’s widowed mother, uncle and aunt and other family members and are married through Muslim rites, starting life in Hyderabad. Ali’s mother gives her new daughter-in-law the Muslim name of Zarina.
Political and religious events following the partition of India and the creation of Pakistan in 1947 present Ali with an option to move to the newly created nation of Pakistan. Ali decides to leave Hyderabad with Zarina and their two daughters, Sayeeda and Meena, and two sons Danny and Tayeb. Zarina is pregnant with another child at this time.
Events don’t turn out well. In Pakistan, Ali is looked upon as an immigrant — a Mujahar — and faces hostility all around. Even though he finds a good position in a transport company, others are not pleased. On his way to drop the children to school, Ali’s car is involved in a head on collision on a deserted street. The driver and a neighbor’s traveling with them are killed. Ali and Meena are seriously injured. Three days later, Ali succumbs to his injuries. Circumstances surrounding the accident are suspicious, but investigations are deferred.
The grieving family is helped back to Hyderabad. But Zarina, distraught, decides to return to England to her mother with the children. But Ali’s Uncle Mirza and Aunty Zainab beg her to leave Saeeda behind with them. Reluctantly, Zarina agrees. Bu,t at the airport, the two sisters Meena and Saeeda cling to each other weeping. They are inseparable! Overwhelmed, Zarina decides to leave the two girls behind and fly to London with her two boys.
Several years pass by. The girls grow up in comfort in Aunty Zainab and Uncle Mirza’s home.. But the sisters cannot banish from their minds the horror of the accident that killed their father. They share and relive the terrifying accident. Uncle and Aunt notice their pain and do their best to comfort the girls. The girls grow up, finish their schooling and have marriages arranged for them. Saeeda moves to England with her husband, an eye specialist. Meena marries a journalist, moves to his home and together they have two sons. During all this time, Zarina returns only once briefly to Hyderabad.
Fresh social and political upheavals trigger another dislocation in Meena and her husband’s lives. The deteriorating political situation in Hyderabad renders life difficult. A sister-in-law living in Canada helps them immigrate to Canada. The family stops in London, en route for a joyous re-union with their mother and brothers, and spend a wonderful week in the Isle of Whyte where her mother now lives.
Once in Canada, Meena’s husband is able to find a good job in Calgary which is a flourishing new city. The family adjust to their new life and beautiful surroundings quite easily. But, for Meena, the past will not let her be. The trauma she experienced in her childhood has left a permanent mark in her mind and she explains it best when she says, “We all have something quiet and sad in our hearts.”
These twelve short stories dive deep into imaginary worlds where everyday life is marked and marred by war. They speak of wounded love, captured women, confinement, talismans, borders, wolves. They give expression to the voices of Afghan women who would like to change the fate of people like Nâzboo, Khorshid, Hamid and so many others.
Originally published by Éditions Le Soupirail in 2019, this collection was the first volume of short stories by Afghan women to appear in France. This edition from Inanna Publications brings these storiesand their unique perspectivesto English-speaking readers for the first time. The collection includes stories by Wasima Badghisi, Batool Haidari, Alia Ataee, Sedighe Kazemi, Khaleda Khorsand, Masouma Kawsari, Mariam Mahboob, Toorpekai Qayum, Manizha Bakhtari, Homeira Qaderi, Parween Pazhwak and Homayra Rafat.