Book Review: Love in a Headscarf – Shelina Janmohamed

love in a headscarf - shelina janmohamedTitle: Love in a Headscarf
Author: Shelina Janmohamed
ISBN:  9780807000809
Pages: 272
Release Date: October 12, 2010
Publisher: Beacon Press
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Cultural
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 out of 5


Shelina Janmohamed was a smart, Oxford-educated young Muslim woman who decided to abide by her parents’ and community’s traditions when it came to marriage: She agreed to have it arranged. What she didn’t expect was the roller coaster ride that followed, nor the insights into love and faith she’d receive through the process.


Love in a Headscarf is an interesting look into what many consider an outdated cultural practice, but that actually happens all over the world. What is interesting about Shelina’s perspective, as presented in this memoir, is that she chooses this route. It’s not as antiquated as one would think; it actually functions much more as a dating service. People meet, go out on dates, and consent to the marriage; it’s just that the families are doing the selecting.

Why would someone choose this route? Janmohamed has her reasons, as she goes into in depth, but it’s not because she’s provincial or ignorant. She’s a smart, educated lady who chooses a conservative path. It’s interesting to see how important Janmohamed’s faith is to her, yet how she sometimes struggles with it. The author is Muslim, but really anyone who has had issues with their religion can sympathize with what she’s going through. The arranged marriage aspect is an interesting cultural conversation, but this memoir is much more about religion (though not preachy by any means).

What I didn’t expect from Love in a Headscarf was how philosophical it would become. The first part reads like a cultural memoir, with funny and quirky tales of her arranged marriage adventures, but the rest of it delves deep into issues of faith and Islam. As I said, this book is not preachy, and it’s certainly an interesting discussion, especially as Janmohamed goes into thoughts on being a Muslim in the modern world and how to reconcile her feminist views with her religion. I think this book is good, not only for those interested in learning more about Islam (which is such a good idea in our current times—we fear what we don’t understand), but also for Muslims struggling with their own faith. Janmohamed really provides great insight into Islam and how she interprets and practices it, which is both valuable and enlightening.

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