Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Book Review- Mothering A Muslim by Nazia Erum

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India has always been a land of dissimilarities based on religion, cultures, customs, languages and cuisines. Most of us have grown up celebrating Diwali, Eid, and Christmas with our friends with almost the equal fervor. Our friends weren’t decided on the basis of their religion or eating habits. And our parents did not influence our decision to make friends as long as they were from decent families. But with the turn of the century, something changed.

With the Twin Towers getting bombed by a radical group of terrorists followed by similar other attacks indifferent parts of the world, an unnamed fear emerged against Muslims. As terrorism spread its nasty fangs with gruesome attacks by ISIS, Al Qaeda and the likes of it, Islamophobia became rampant. Muslims all over the word started feeling the heat of this hatred that seeped through workplaces, communities and educational institutes. 

Things weren’t very different in India too. Sporadic acts of terrorism of varying magnitudes where terrorists more often than not belonged to a particular religion fuelled the extreme opinions against Islam. And the unpleasant impact was felt by the Muslims living in the country since ages. They were now on a constant guard and patriotism was being questioned openly. Something had changed significantly.

Nazia Erum’s Mothering A Muslim talks about the extremely sensitive issue of bringing up a child in the current environment which is difficult, to put it mildly. Innocent kids are being targeted, knowingly or unknowingly, creating a dire state of confusion in their inquisitive minds. When they turn towards their parents for explanation and guidance, parents find themselves trapped in a catch-22 situation. They don’t want their kids to grow up with a stigma but also do not want to influence the thought process and raise them under religious fundamentalism.


Erum shares experiences of parents and their kids from all across the country which clearly reflects that kids as young as 4 are being bullied due to their religion, very often by kids who are too young to understand the concept of religion or more importantly, hatred towards it. Obviously, they are acting on second-hand opinions that they hear at home or in the peer group. Extreme distortion by news and social media adds to this twisted theory.

While the parents that the author interviewed for this book stated that they felt the gradual change since last 10-15 years; there is certainly a clear and steep change in the overall social environment since 2014. People have started voicing their hatred openly, probably due to an unsaid assurance from the government. The increase in unpleasant incidences targeting Muslims has created a sense of fear in the community. 

Erum also brings forth the dilemma of progressive Muslims who are stuck between image they carry for non-Muslims and the extreme Muslim fascists. They get cornered in the external society for being Muslims but are criticized by the ‘haraam police’ for not being Muslim enough in their religious social circles.

Mothering a Muslim is a powerful book- eye opener and thought-provoking. It shows us the mirror which we have been avoiding conveniently. It shatters the belief that we are progressing and everything is alright. It questions our right to be called responsible parents and prudent citizens. If our kids, irrespective of their religion, are growing up hating another human being, something phenomenal has gone wrong. While we causally discuss politics and social issues at dinnertime, our kids are picking up selectively on the spiteful comments and using them to shape their views. It scares me deeply to imagine a world when these kids become adults and make decisions based on skewed beliefs. 

Mothering a Muslim is an alarm clock that urges us to wake up and take charge of the situation before it gets too late. It beckons us to stop and reverse the damage done by selfish political and social agendas. India has been a harmonious land of dissimilarities and should remain the same for our future generations. 

My rating: 

This is NOT a paid review.

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