Happy weekend everyone — here’s a new roundup for your reading pleasure.

This week we’ve got a mix of serious and whimsical pieces — from honour killings and HIV in the Muslim community to awkward parental sex talks and female whirling dervishes.


1) Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi, co-editors of the upcoming anthology Love, InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women, are just splashing all over the place with a little tongue-in-cheek and some wink-wink-nudge-nudge — if you know what I mean. In a fun piece on the HuffPo, these brilliant ladies expose the fact that due to his swarthy good looks and heroic treatment of Muslims in the Media, Muslim females everywhere are spending their nights with John Stewart from the Daily Show.

But can Muslim women really love Jon Stewart, who is — gasp! — Jewish? Honestly, that makes it even better. The Daily Show‘s Senior Muslim Correspondent Aasif Mandvi may be a suitable boy to bring home to our parents, but the element of forbidden fruit makes Jon all the sexier. (And, we suspect our moms might have a thing for Jon too.)

You damn well better believe it.

The HuffPo also published an exert from the above mentioned Love, InshAllah. Deliciously titled “The Birds, the Bees, and My Hole,” Zahra Noorbakhsh expresses how her mother’s straight-forward-but-not-so-helpful sex talk changed the way she related to her jeans and her male friends.

It’s a fantastically bitter-sweet story. Girl finishes high school and celebrates with a group of friends by going to the movies. One of those friends is a boy! Uh-oh! Watch the drama unfold when Mama finds out:

“Zahra, you have a hole. And for the rest of your life, men will want to put their penis in your hole. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like, who is your ‘friend.’ Even at the movies, maman jaan, wherever—it does not change. Ri-anne seems like a very nice man, but he is a man. And all he wants is your hole. So, I will pick you up here at five o’clock. Have fun, maman jaan,” she said.

*shudder* I hated the sex talk I had with my dad. I think I blocked 98% of it out while he awkwardly talked about me not “giving IT away.” Ugh.

2) The Muslim community in Eastern Ontario has been shaken by the Shafia family murder case — where a husband, his second wife and son have been charged with the first degree murder of their three daughters and the husband’s first wife. When the trial first started there were plenty of mud-slinging debates if honour killings are actually a part or not a part of Islam.

It’s a horrific story and an enraging topic, so I’m glad to see people are making an effort to address violence in our community. Writing for the Gazette, Kingston Imam Sikander Hashmi unequivocally states that murder is off-limits in Islam:

For starters, murder is totally off-limits in Islam. Having an affair, a relationship or a boyfriend, not wearing the hijab, and so on – as dishonourable as these may be considered – are not cause for murder. Murder is prohibited to the severest degree and cannot be justified in any way, especially for girls who are under the care of their parents.

3) Joe Bradford, imam of the Islamic Center of North East Florida, blogged about an important consideration for many converts to Islam: changing your name to a more “Muslim” sounding name.

For many, “Muslim sounding” just means Arabizing your current name, or choosing a name based on an Islamic concept, Prophet, or Muslim historical figure. So Joseph becomes Yusuf. Katie becomes Khadija. I suppose you could use an English, French, German, <insert language choice here> translated name — but I’ve never met a Catherine who wanted to be called Faith. She usually chooses Iman.

In his post, Joe relates his struggles to adopt a “Muslim” name and then reclaim his parental-given name — and includes a couple of sweet anecdotes from his teachers along the way:

I appreciate that you have preserved your culture, your dress, your name; it is completely contradictory that we say Islam is a universal religion, and then tell people to choose Arabic names, eat Arabic food, and dress like Arabs. Sure we have regulations for dress, but that the how to wear, not the what to wear. Be you, that is the best example you can be; you’ll do more for Islam that way. Both Muslims and other faiths should know that we can have a person of knowledge named Joe; that is the universal nature of Islam.

Awwww! Love.

4) The HIV magazine Positively Aware has a brilliant article on a Chicago workshop which addressed “The Homophobia and Stigma Endured with being Gay, Muslim, and Living with HIV.” Three speakers relate their personal accounts and discuss the lack of HIV support in Muslim communities, experiencing Islamophobia or racism from non-Muslim service providers, and the need to  bring these stories to light.

It’s an uphill battle against an entrenched attitude that makes open discussion about homosexuality taboo among most Muslims. In fact, almost the same words of condemnation that appear in the Bible also appear in the Quran. Boyd acknowledges that the judgment and rejection can be “really psychologically damaging.” Just having someone with whom to talk about it openly is a great relief.

Read it. It’s important. Nobody in the community should have to hide.

5) And finally, what do you get when you put a 13th century Muslim mystic together with a bunch of contemporary women? A whirling colourful display of awesome dervishes!