Being a practicing Muslim in the West is sometimes challenging, sometimes rewarding and sometimes downright absurd. How do you explain why Eid never falls on the same date each year; why it is that Halal butchers also sell teapots and alarm clocks; how do you make clear to the plumber that it's essential the toilet is installed within sitting-arm's reach of the tap?
Zarqa Nawaz has seen and done it all.
And it's not always easy to get things right with the community either: Zarqa tells of being asked to leave the DBW (Dead Body Washing) committee after making unsuitable remarks; of undertaking the momentous trip to Mecca with her husband, without the children, thinking (most incorrectly) that it will also be a nice time to have uninterrupted sex; of doing the unthinkable, and creating Little Mosque on the Prairie, a successful TV sitcom about that very (horrified, then proud) community.
You have to laugh.
In this entertaining memoir, Nawaz, creator of the hit sitcom Little Mosque on the Prairie, writes about her life as a Canadian Muslim woman of Pakistani origin. She addresses serious social issues suspicion of Muslims after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, gender relations in Islam, the struggle to fit in as an immigrant child but always with a humorous and light touch, deftly balancing obvious commitments to her religion, her country, and her family with an irreverent approach to the status quo. Nawaz's stories are sometimes specific to her Muslim life: she describes going on the hajj and wearing the hijab, as well as her parents trying to arrange her marriage. But non-Muslim readers will relate to many of the stories, such as those about being a self-conscious preteen or dealing with work/life balance as the mother of four children. Nawaz's self-deprecating wit is endearing, and her simple, factual tone provides education without ever being boring. This memoir provides an important glimpse into the everyday life of a Western Muslim family, but, even better, it is a laugh-out-loud story that everyone can enjoy.