Sunday, August 1, 2010

10 Things I Hate About Me

Perhaps I should call this post 10 Things I Hate About This Book! So basically the last 3 books I've chosen have been about non-practicing muslims. Hmmm...could that be the reason they are so accessible (at the library and through scholastic)? The books about devout muslims always have to be ordered from Islamic bookstores. At least that's been my experience except for little kids books which I can find at my library. The first thing I hated was how her brother got to do whatever he wanted but not her. Of course this is mostly culture. I wouldn't want the girl doing the haram things either though. But you should have the freedom to do the halal.  The second thing was how could an Islamic school promote a mixed band with instruments? Sounds like the islamic school my kids go to (friday night -2 hour classes). Third thing,why did the dad give up a great job just so he could live in the city and drive a taxi? Was it for the sake of Islam? I would have sided with him if it had been. And how about the food wastage " Shereen gets pretty upset about the fact that so much food goes to waste when there are people starving in the world. She's quite right, but its a habit entrenched in Arabic culture and Aunt Sowsan would consider herself to be dishonoring her guests if she didn't make such an exhorbitant amount" Speaking about food why is she working at Mcdonald's and dealing with pork? There are lots of places to work so why do muslims keep picking the non-halal choices?  What do I especially hate? At the end of the book where she is supposed to be reconciling her two worlds (non islamic and islamic) the only thing she really embraces is her Lebanese culture. Big deal she starts playing Lebanese music in front of her classmates. This is not being a muslim! At least she doesn't end up dating anyone though. What do I like about this book? I like her sister who tries hard to follow islam and I like Timothy who stands up for himself. If Jamilah had these two traits she'd be on her way. I was expecting at the end of the story that she would at the very least dye her hair back and take out the contacts but alas she couldn't even do that simple thing. Muslims like these are the ones that give Islam a bad name. Like one of the characters in the book says non-muslims are not impressed with Muslims who try to fit in. I know, I for one, was very disgusted with them and their hypocrisy when I was Christian. Is Islam doable? Yes! But these kinds of muslims lead people to believe that Islam is an impossible religion to follow when it is not.


  1. I think you hit upon all the points that bothered me, and yes if she were like her sister and timothy, it would be an inspirational book, no matter what flaws or inconsistencies she'd have to deal with. We need more like that. Maybe she could write part 2, about Jamilah empowered. I'm not surprised at the double standard between siblings, nor the music. I guess I have a stereotype of middle eastern music being part of the culture there, I mean it seems inseparable, unless you are extremely devout. I think the school was more of a culture school, than islamic school.
    Have you read any interviews of the author. I wonder why she writes such shallow books about muslims? Am I missing something, reality? I think non converts have bigger challenges if their family doesn't practice, and converts tend to see things in terms of right and wrong, because we immediately step into religion from an unencumbered place (no cultural baggage or familiarity with Muslims who may not practice—the people around you make things comfortable and acceptable to a certain extent).

  2. Scholastic did a very nice book called the Muslim Child, it is for younger kids, but it is right on, and covers all sorts of muslims, by Rukhsana Khan—a Canadian I love her books. Have you read any young adult muslim novels that are more…beneficial?
    I know there are a lot of stories about muslim girls overseas, but I haven't picked them up.

  3. I just visited her website. Ok I accept there are going to be all sorts of Muslims and Muslim experiences. Inshallah, the other muslim voices will get heard and read too.
    I wonder why it's ok to read a book like Only in London or Bricklane and feel more tolerant towards the characters, but not towards these last three books we have read. Is it because it is adult fiction? 10 things, is fiction, I guess I was hoping for more since it clearly has muslim, ok Lebanese, identity as the main topic... Arghh! Why hope for more? Even if I wrote what I would like to read, someone more devout than me will wail and be offended. Perhaps you can't win. No. No, I would like to read even in books where the muslims are secondary, I'd like to see a fair portrayal, and some not too lapsed in their faith. Like Zeitoun, I think that book was excellent, I was not offended or put off.

  4. Asalaamu Alaikum

    I've never visited her website. ( I did see on Unimagined's website that she was supporting his book though). Oh Muslim Child I have and the kids love it but I've NEVER seen Scholastic offer it. I got it from an Islamic bookstore and my library also has it. A better teen book would be From Somalia with Love by Naima Roberts. She has a new one coming out too;Boy Vs Girl. With Brick Lane I was really offended by her behaviour. I thought she had no backbone. Why didn't she just leave her husband. I thought it was gross and I didn't feel sorry for her. She was free to leave. Zeitoun was excellent! I'm hoping the next book choices will be so much better. I need a break from these non-practicing muslim books. They make me tired and ticked off. We need more inspiration in the muslim community not less.

  5. I checked out her website. Her new book 'where the streets had a name' looks much more interesting than this one.