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  • Writer's pictureEva

Review: It's Not About the Burqa edited by Mariam Khan

Another birthday book has been conquered. Non-fiction books that discuss feminism are one of my number one go-to genres. So of course, when I heard about this collection of essays written by a selection of Muslim women, I knew I would love it. I don't mean to toot my own horn but...I'm rarely wrong about these things. In 2016, Mariam Khan read that David Cameron had linked the radicalisation 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? 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. Something I truly valued from my time reading It's Not About the Burqa was how much education it gave me. Khan is absolutely correct: a voice is rarely given to Muslim women in mainstream media. My education on the matter was severely lacking as many of the people that I know from the community are either not practicing Muslims but were raised in Muslim households, or they are men. So what does a Muslim woman have to say about the assumptions that are put on her? Whether that be regarding her faith, her stereotyped 'submissive' sensibilities or her clothing? As it turns out, there was a lot to discuss. The essays in this book, cover such a diverse range of topics. They cover immodesty, Muslim representation in mainstream culture (or lack thereof) and how it's been capitalised and monetised by huge corporate brands such as Nike. There are discussions about clothing, mental health, sex and marriage. You will be shocked to learn a history of feminism in the Muslim community that is never discussed in schools. You will read a poignant essay written by a black Muslim women and how her intersectionality has caused her confusion and strain within both of her respective communities. Some of these essays are truly beautiful, emotive and moving. Equally, all of these women are such fantastic writers that a touch of humour will keep you from feeling an overwhelming sense of bleakness when looking at a societal scenario that is entirely white-washed.

If you enjoy non-fiction/essays: read it. If you are interested in reading about feminism: read it. If you are interested in reading about intersectionality: read it. If you are interested in reading about racism: read it. Or more generally, if you are looking for a fantastic book, jam packed with easily digestible and interesting information: read it. Initial Prediction: 4.5 stars

Final Rating: 4.5 stars

Publication Date: 1 April 2020

Publisher: Picador

Genres: Non-Fiction, Essay

# of Pages: 272

Links: Goodreads, Buy


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