Book Review: The lived realities of Muslim women

2018-08-24 16:28

The red strands of saffron scattered across the cover of this book are as enticing and inviting as the text that lies within the pages of the book itself. The stories all offer a richness that is unique and relatable, both as a woman but as a young-ish girl navigating her way in a world that is far too preoccupied with the niceties, instead of the realities of women and their lived experiences.

The book, which offers 56 essays based on Muslim women and their lived experiences from motherhood to education and activism, seeks to delve into the deeper, hushed-up conversations that often only take place on the fringes of a family gathering.

Book Review

Saffron: A Collection of Personal Narratives by Muslim Women

Edited by: Dr Zaheera Jina

African Perspective Publishing

288 Pages

R285 at


From activists to lawyers, the prose that this book embodies is often raw and unashamedly proud, reflecting a strength that each of these women possesses in the telling of their own unique stories.

It would be rather blasphemous to not speak about the chapter that perhaps resonates with yours truly; on the love of food and the power of a good toasted cheese sandwich, homemade of course.

Here, local radio personality and MC Safeera Kaka unpacks the joyous and grief-stricken moments in her life; from the joys of being a shy newlywed to the grief of losing her dear Daadi (grandmother), and how toasted cheese sandwiches have always played the role of comforter and confidant in her life.

“A little secret about toasted sandwich perfection: it has to be made at home,” Kaka says.

A sobering read includes a rather honest account of how Shauqeen Mizaj, a journalist from India, endured years of emotional abuse by her husband, and even after several attempts at making her in-laws aware of their son’s behaviour, she was told to “be a better wife, take better care of my husband and ignore the pain”.

It seems an all too familiar story, given the surge of violence and abuse against women that is reported in the media on a daily basis, but Mizaj’s power lies in her ability to successfully negotiate a divorce with her parents’ support. A short yet poignant story that is sure to resonate with the current and cyclic climate of spousal abuse.

This book would serve those who are looking for some words of encouragement and inspiration well, as each story offers to unpack one life lesson after another.

The short stories make for comfortable reading, and a practical glossary provides an understanding to words like awliya (guardian) and khala (mother’s sister).

Once fully tuned into the text, it should make for a night or two of enjoyable reading.

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June 16 2019