Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Book Review: Mothering a Muslim by Nazia Erum

Title: Mothering A Muslim
Author: Nazia Erum
Publisher: Juggernaut

Nazia Erum runs a fashion start-up, and is the mother of an adorable little girl. But from the day Myra was born, she found herself asking questions she didn't have answers for. It began with her daughter's name – should Nazia choose a traditional Islamic name or a more non-religious sounding one so that her daughter couldn't be identified as a Muslim? Nazia was not the only modern middle-class Muslim asking this question. Soon she discovered that finding the right name for Myra was the least of her worries. Talking to over 100 children and their parents across 12 cities, what Nazia uncovers is deeply troubling. She heard stories of rampant bullying of Muslim children in many of the country's top schools, of six-year-olds being hit by their classmates because of their faith, of religious segregation in classrooms and of anxious Muslim parents across the country who monitor their children's dress, speech and actions to protect them. In Mothering a Muslim, she finally lifts the veil on this taboo subject, one that is spoken of only in whispers. Urgent, gripping and heartbreaking, this is essential reading for every Indian.

Bigotry — the intolerance, fear, and hatred of those different from ourselves — is a common occurrence in the world even today. It is, however, considered wrong almost universally because it robs others of their rights as human beings through discrimination and persecution. And among all forms of bigotry, it is religious bigotry that is by far the most common. Due to religious bigotry people are willing to kill each other even in a secular country like ours. I wonder what it is like in countries where they have a national religion!
The most worrying aspect of this ‘epidemic’ is that it has spread its vile roots even in the innocent yards of schools. Kids, who have no actual idea of what religion is, hurl abuses at each other and sometimes even get physical based on religious differences. Set amidst this backdrop, Nazia Erum’s ‘Mothering a Muslim’ explores the thoughts and dilemmas of a community that finds itself embattled in India’s current political climate. It raises questions and examines bullying in the so-called secular, liberal posh schools of Delhi NCR and elsewhere.
Religion has always been a sensitive issue in our country. Not very long ago we witnessed partitions based on the fault lines of religious sentiments. Was it right? That is not the question we need to ask ourselves any more. Was it enough to purge our religious notions? – is what we need to understand.
Islamophobia has seeped into the very corridors of our schools and homes and this is what Erum tries to tell the masses through her book. She uncovers a deeply disturbing picture of what it means to grow up as a Muslim in India. She has provided a set of guidelines for parents and teachers on what steps they can take if their child/ward is being subjected to communal bullying.
Erum also writes about how many Muslim parents, including herself, have developed inherent fears about their kids being singled out because of how their name sounds like. The most striking part of her book is when she goes beyond the trials of raising a child whose identity is Muslim. She brings up a key dilemma of being Muslim that seems to plague the community causing an internal crisis of identity.

To some the book may come across as a one-sided monologue where the sentiments of non-Muslim mothers are not being taken into consideration. There’s always two sides of a story — ours and theirs. But shouldn’t we, as educated people, start saying a single story with a mutual voice? It’d be good to be just ‘humans’ and not labeled as anything else. Erum has tried to say just that through her book and it applies to everyone. 
A worthwhile read all things considered!    

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I'd like to thank the publisher for letting me review the book. I do hope you end up liking the book when you read it. Thank you so much for stopping by, and happy reading! 

* I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
** Picture courtesy: 

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