What exactly do Muslim men want? That's the theme of a new book of essays called Salaam, Love. It's the companion volume to one that came out last year called Love, InshAllah, which focused on the lives of American Muslim women.
Haroon Moghul is one of the essayists whose work is collected in Salaam, Love; he wrote about his experiences growing up as an Indian Muslim kid in Massachusetts, seen through the lens of his high school prom. Moghul tells NPR's Rachel Martin that "I think I've reached a point where I'm comfortable writing about certain things in my life, as long as a decade and a half has passed."
On not dating, and marriage
I don't even know if [my parents] ever explicitly told me that at some point I would be allowed to get married. I think it was sort of assumed that after I did med school, and a residency, and a fellowship, then somehow I would get married. To who, and how, and what I would think about that — no idea, except probably by the age of 35. Which, to note, I am still not at.
On not being allowed to go to sex ed class
We don't talk about those things! As a result, we have some of the highest growth rates in the world — there's some sort of, you know, paradoxical relationship here. It was just not discussed. The only way I found out was that I was told I had to go to the library one day, and I was sort of like, why? I mean, usually if you're in trouble, you don't go to the library. And then I found out from my classmates that everyone was taking these sex ed classes for a couple of weeks ... It was pretty devastating to be the only brown kid, and the only Muslim kid, AND the new kid, AND the only one who was not allowed to take sex education. Kind of marks you for life.
Haroon Moghul is a Ph.D. Candidate at Columbia University in Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, and a columnist at Religion Dispatches.
On going to prom
Senior year, I finally started to feel comfortable in my own skin, and to me, prom was the culmination of everything, right? It was the one thing you did that marked you in high school, and for me, it was like a challenge I set to myself — something I wanted to do, something I had to do, and then eventually, something I thought would help me understand myself a little bit better.
On why he decided to be part of Salaam, Love
I think for a lot of American Muslims, especially those of us who are in some kind of community role, we're forced to become, for lack of a better term, professional Muslims. A lot of the things that I wanted to do with my life, I was unable to do, because I realized that as an American, and as a Muslim, I had an obligation to become part of a conversation that we as a country needed. And I don't regret that, and I think it was something that is the right thing to do. But unfortunately, I think in the process, we were forced to deny a lot of parts of ourselves, and I don't think the Muslim community would have been ready to receive a book like this ten or 15 years ago — it just came around at a point where I felt like I had to say something and get it off my chest, and not pretend to be just one kind of person.