Volume one in the I Speak for Myself Series. 40 women under the age of 40, born and raised in the United States, dismantle stereotypes of what it means to be a Muslim woman in America
American women are the subject of endless discussions regarding their role in society, their veils as symbols of oppression or of freedom, their identity, their patriotism, their womanhood. Yet the voices and life experiences of Muslim American women themselves are rarely heard in the loud rhetoric surrounding the question of Muslims in America. Finally, in I Speak for Myself, 40 American women share their experiences as Muslim women in America. While their commonality is faith and citizenship, their voices and their messages are very different. Readers of I Speak for Myself are presented with a kaleidoscope of stories, artfully woven together around the central idea of limitlessness and individuality. Each woman uniquely defies labeling, simply by defining for herself what it means to be American, Muslim, and female. Each personal story is a contribution to the larger narrative of life stories and life work of a new generation of Muslim women.
ABOUT THE EDITORS
ENDORSEMENTS & REVIEWS
Huffington Post selected I Speak for Myself as one of the top religion books of 2011. “Hundreds of religion books come across the HuffPost Religion desk each year,” said the editors. “Stacked in mountains next to our computers, they remind us of the sacred wisdom, religious leadership and academic rigor that so many women and men have shared with us.” In describing I Speak for Myself, Huffington Post notes that, “Everyone has something to say about Muslim women. It was time to hear what they had to say about themselves.”
“The women in I Speak for Myself are part of a new generation of peacebuilders. By telling their stories they offer us new perspectives that are vital to the peace building process, and through their honesty and courage they are making a lasting contribution to the search for cross-cultural understanding. Maria Ebrahimji and Zahra Suratwala’s book joins the mission for global tolerance; it is truly a step in the right direction.” ~ Her Majesty Queen Noor
“A central part of combating intolerance between people is listening to each others’ stories. In I Speak for Myself, 40 American Muslim women tell us their stories – stories of their faith, their families, their values, and their traditions. They are wonderfully human and widely diverse, both informative and inspiring. As in all of our faith traditions, the growing role of women will be crucial in shaping the future of Islam. This is a very important contribution to the growing interfaith dialogue in this country; I commend it to you.” ~ Jim Wallis, Founder and CEO of Sojourners and author of Rediscovering Values
“This book is a window into how Islam is lived in America by some of its most dynamic, creative and inspiring leaders. The voices here are clear and compelling, compassionate and courageous. This is Big Tent Citizen Islam at its best – a community welcoming of its own internal diversity, and making important contributions to the broader society.” ~ Eboo Patel, Founder and President Interfaith Youth Core
“As the dialogue on faith and spirituality progresses, women should not be overlooked. Maria Ebrahimji and Zahra Suratwala’s book demonstrates that American Muslim women have a story and, more importantly, a unique voice in which to tell it. In an era where women’s empowerment is essential, these are women who have the ability, through their stories and their work, to empower women all over the world to truly speak for themselves.” ~ Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize Winner & Founder, Grameen Bank
“I Speak for Myself is a must read for anyone curious to understand Islam from a woman’s and an American-Muslim perspective. This is the work of bridge makers; women who understand that their voices and their truths are one of the most solid, real, and powerful ways to promote understanding and peace between people of various faiths. Ebrahimiji and Suratwala do a superb job in bringing these women’s voices out with beauty, intimacy and integrity. I Speak for Myself is the story of every woman embodied in voices of today’s American Muslim woman.” ~ Zainab Salbi, Founder, Women for Women International
“I Speak for Myself is a beautiful compilation of stories reflecting the diversity in Islam and the common values that exist among us all. These are the voices of mothers, daughters, sisters and neighbors we can all identify with representing an honest effort to allow American-born Muslim women to change the narrative of American Islam- in their own words.” ~ Deepak Chopra, Author, The Soul of Leadership
“Nothing succeeds like success. I Speak for Myself is a powerful reminder that the American dream transcends race, gender, and creed. Here a collection by individuals who are successful in every conceivable way: as women, as Muslims, as individuals, as leaders, as role models as Americans. Each of them reminds us that personal inspiration is the strongest kind. Each story is so rich that generalizations and stereotypes become impossible. These women are the real Americans.” ~ Parag Khanna, Author, The Second World; Fellow, New America Foundation
“Empowering girls through education does not stop in the schoolroom; a book like this can be just as influential in widening a young girl’s view of the world and of her own potential within it. This collection of essays edited by Maria Ebrahimji and Zahra Suratwala is empowering and inspiring, and a vital part of any education. ” ~ Greg Mortenson, Author, Three Cups of Tea
“Too rarely are Muslim women’s voice heard. I Speak for Myself is an extraordinary collection of essays that lets Muslim American women speak for themselves. It is refreshing, inspirational, honest, and ultimately, an indispensable guide. I must congratulate the editors Maria Ebrahimji and Zahra Suratwala for their important contribution.” ~ Professor Akbar Ahmed, American University.
“I am so excited about Maria Ebrahimji & Zahra Suratwala’s I Speak for Myself – it is exactly the kind of book we so desperately need right now in America. Why haven’t there been more books like this? We don’t need more books on Islam and what Muslims believe, we need books on Muslims and how they are trying to live in America just like the rest of us. Americans have had the perception that Muslims are not as “American” as the rest of us, that simply isn’t true. I loved reading the story of a woman wrestling with her identity in her faith and some of the issues just like the rest of us non-Muslims as we wrestle with issues of our faith. Muslims are not a monolith, they do not want to “take over” America, if anything they came here like the rest of us searching for the same thing a place to see dreams come true. Only when we can see them as human beings and Americans wanting to experience the same dreams as everyone else will we be able to get along. Thank you ladies, I’ll be promoting and passing out this book.” ~ Pastor Bob Roberts, Northwood Church, Keller, TX (and Founder, Global Faith Forum)