Girls Just Want to Have Fun

This American Muslim won't wear a head cover but will wear tight jeans. Modesty, she says, comes from within.

Continued from page 2

Do you flirt?
Actually, I do. But I think my way of flirting is how I relate to people, and of course I stay within reasonable boundaries. In the end, the Qur'an says Allah is the final judge and I'm responsible for everything I do. And I feel that the choices I've made are good ones.

What do Muslim women care about?
I was at an event at the Islamic Center of Southern California and there were two high school-age girls buying my book. I remember them because one of them was listening to an iPod, but she'd taken the headphones out. The music coming out of the headphones was "Milkshake," which is a hip-hop song. I thought it was so funny that here's this young Muslim girl and she's got "Milkshake" coming out of her iPod, and she said to me, "It's so great to see a Muslim woman. Every time we come to the mosque, it's always a lecture and it's always some old guy."

Other Muslim women were saying they have nothing to give their daughters that's positive about Islam to read. Or nothing to take to school to show their teachers. When I was writing this book and listening to my own iPod, I heard "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" by Cyndi Lauper, which was a big hit when I was young. And I thought, you know, as Muslims we never get to have fun anymore. It's all serious. It's all business.

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Since 9/11 it's always talking about what the Administration is doing to us, what this law is doing to us, what this Islamic country is doing to us, what we're not doing for ourselves. We never get a chance to talk about what is really cool about being Muslim. I was lucky enough to grow up before 9/11. There were still misunderstandings and stereotypes about Islam, but there wasn't this seminal event in American life. I grew up at a time when people just said, "I don't know anything about your religion." They didn't say, "All I know about your religion is 9/11." And I was simply the kid who didn't have to go to Mass on Sundays and who got to sit out religion class.

I think the number one issue for Muslim women, for my generation, in their 20s and even 30s, is how do we find a suitable Muslim mate. Some Muslim women have chaperones and they meet over the phone and email. They don't do American-style dating where there's premarital sex. But that's limited to conservative, traditional Muslims.

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