This past year has possibly been the busiest of my life. Often it seemed to be a private experiment in proving Holmes and Rahe’s theory of how stress affects health. After my pregnancy, I did get a lil’ condition, but alhumdiAllah I’m fine. Through it all I had a constant striving for and simultaneous fear of the constant “insha Allah” I heard rolling off my tongue: “insha Allah when this is all done we/I will ____, insha Allah when ___” It was frightening for me to live in that constant temporary state, not knowing if my (I only fool me!) plans would play out. AlhumdiAllah, insha Allah has come! My family made it through the year and have reached several of our greatest goals.
One of my littler Insha Allah hopefuls was filling a bookshelf with books I would someday have time to read. Most of them are written by Muslim women and many are about Muslim woman. Amongst the fiction selections I added to the shelf is Silence , the last from the Echoes series written by Linda ” Jamilah” Kolocotronis. I have read the rest of the series and hope that she is quick to put out something else as there isn’t anything like the Echoes Series in print. I really enjoyed them all. Recently a friend randomly sent me a copy of Kolocotronis’s first book Innocent People. I’ve seen the book around, but never had an intention to read it. I think that based on the cover (I know, I know–don’t judge) and some other reasoning I can’t fully remember, I had thought it was for teens or younger. Still, I liked the feeling of knowing that I now had her complete works (insert maniacal hand rubbing, yes, I’m a bit excited about building up my Islamic fiction library!) and I tucked the copy up on the shelf.
After the Ft.Hood shootings I felt isolated from my ummah and alone with my hurt about the tragedy and fallout. So busy with school and fulfilling endless tasks for my family, which just last month concluded in a move half-way around the world, I wasn’t feeling that I had time to process the shooting even though I did feel that it was affecting me. I felt emotions rising, but had to shelve those too. Just too busy. While passing by my livingroom bookcase countless times a day, Innocent People kept popping into the corner of my eye. I knew it was about a Muslim American family post 9/11 and finally, I picked it up.
I’m so glad that I did. It took sometime to read it as I could only squeeze in maybe a page or two at a time, usually while I was avoiding getting the kids into bed! The book was such a great comfort to me. It was like visiting with good friends for a few minutes everyday. Kolocotronis’s characters are easy to relate to. They really seem like people we all know. And in the shadow of so many people’s sufferings because of the attacks, it’s difficult to address the sufferings of those who have been wrongfully associated with the perpetrators. Kolocotronis manages to handle the topic in a thoughtful way. Not only does she illustrate the concerns and sufferings of Muslim Americans immediately after 9/11, but she also addresses many of the implications that still affect Muslims today, such as the profiling Muslims are experiencing–especially men. This book should easily become an American Muslim classic and is just as relevant today as it was when it came out several years ago.
Innocent People was really an enjoyable read and I’m so thankful that it was pressed into my palm (thank you Amatullah, may Allah reward you with better, ameen!) Last week I started Umm Juwayriyah’s Urban Islamic Fiction title, The Size of a Mustard Seed, which I am loving and will have to tell you all about, insha Allah–and then I’ve got a few non-fiction titles to choose from before I savor Silence, insha Allah!