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Shadia: There will be 'Love, Inshallah'

Unveiled: A Muslim Girl in O.C.

March 21, 2012|By Mona Shadia

For Middle Easterners, reputation is everything.

And while I embrace a lot of my culture's characteristics, this is one of those things I don't care for as much.

For me, reputation is important, but being real about what you feel, think or experience is more important than what someone might think of you for it.

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But for my mom, grandma, aunt and uncles — and pretty much most of the Middle Easterners who come before me and my generation — it's about what others think of you.

My mom, Shadia, and I have this conversation a lot.

It usually goes like this: "Who cares what people think?!"

"I don't care what people think; you just have to consider the consequences," my mom usually responds.

"Really? Hmm."

Though modesty is one of the characteristics of a good Muslim, I think modesty and the need to reserve one's reputation are often confused. And this obsession over reputation and the refusal to speak up publicly about valid issues never provides a forum for finding solutions.

I've noticed that the more sheltered or rural the society tends to be, the more its members care about their reputation. I think it's because sometimes they believe it's all they have. And a lot of times, that's actually the case.

Enter the young-and-upcoming, educated Middle Eastern generation, especially the one growing up in America and Westernized nations, and clashes between the young and old are inevitable.

I say this because there are times when certain issues like dating, romance, love and all sort of things that come with it, are often considered taboo. Talking about them is almost nonexistent in our community, and not talking about them leaves a huge void and many unsolved problems.

A few weeks ago, my friends Michelle Samani (Meesh), Jasmine Duel (Jazy) and I decided to visit a place our mothers — I know mine for sure — wouldn't approve of: A bookstore on Sunset Boulevard.

No, silly. The issue isn't that we were at a bookstore. It's what was going on there: a book reading of "Love, Inshallah." Inshallah means "God willing," and it's something Muslims say a lot because everything happens by the will of God.

The book is an anthology of 25 stories by Muslim women who shatter the glass ceiling of stereotypes with their experiences. It's a collection of the "secret love lives of American Muslim women."

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