Nazia Erum’s latest book, ‘Mothering a Muslim: The Dark Secret in our Schools and Playgrounds’ may sound like a parenting manual but it is much more than that. Erum has written a rare portrayal of middle-class Muslim mothering in multi-faith India, and an essential heart-breaking expose of the religious-based bullying and discrimination that runs through society right down to the schools and playgrounds. This prejudice is voiced by children who are echoing the prejudices they hear at home and in the media. ‘Mothering a Muslim’ was published by Juggernaut Books in January 2018.
Title – Mothering A Muslim
Author – Nazia Erum
ISBN – 9789386228536
Price – £15.99
Erum, an author, entrepreneur and fashion designer, first came to consider this subject when she was pregnant with her own child. She began to think of baby names, a common dilemma for every expecting parent, but hers ran deeper – whether she should give her baby an overtly Muslim name, and risk subjecting her child to name-calling, taunting and bullying just because of their faith.
She went on to interview Muslim families across 12 cities in India, finding that such bullying was widespread but that schools and society were not willing to tackle the elephant in the room. Children were being targeted as early as preschool for their names, clothes and the food they ate. The school system further emphasised the faith divide by splitting the children by their third language choice, with those choosing Urdu being largely Muslims. This meant that children did not have the chance to interact and build friendships with those of other religions.
In ‘Mothering a Muslim’, Erum gives a voice to what she calls ‘the authentic Muslim woman’. Now more than ever before are Muslim women discussed in the media but rarely do we hear from them in their own words.
Whilst this book describes the current situation in India, there are many parallels to the UK – a multi-faith population with tensions running high and negative portrayals of Muslims appearing often in the news. The topics broached in Erum’s book are just as important in the UK, and this would be a valuable and eye-opening read for any parent, educator or politician who might interact with those of other faiths and cultures. On a wider scale, it would appeal to the general reader as a chance to delve into interfaith relationships in society and contemplate the long-term effects of intolerance and discrimination. The urgency and skill with which Erum deals with these sensitive topics is remarkable.
Nazia Erum has many talents, from journalist, researcher, author, and commentator on gender and inter-faith issues, to fashion designer and entrepreneur. She runs TheLuxuryLabel.in, a women’s workwear brand. After her experiences writing ‘Mothering a Muslim’, she began the #MotherAgainstBullying movement, which she says is for every child growing up in this day and age, not just for Muslim children. Erum said on this movement: “Hate swallows everybody. Each one of us needs to be on this and stand together”. This is exactly what she tries to tackle in ‘Mothering a Muslim’.
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