I just finished watching CNN’s documentary special with Soledad O’Brien Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door. And the kinds of things these people were saying about Islam and Muslims, oh my gosh!

In it there was a court case, probably in Tennessee but I’m not sure, where the people were arguing about whether Islam was even a religion.

And it got me to wondering, who the heck do I think I am?

How do I expect to ever make a living–as an author– in a world like this?

Oh it was a long shot from the very beginning. I should have known. And yet at times like this, when I’m full of self doubts, I keep reminding myself about the ayat of the Quran that says if God has prescribed a thing for you, then even if the whole world were to get together to prevent it, they could not do so.  So if this is prescribed for me, then it will happen. If not, I’ll keep on trucking along with what I’m doing now.

I guess it doesn’t help that the sequel has been with my publisher for more than a month now and there’s been no word. I’m coming up to the point where they’d probably let me know if they’re rejecting it.

And I was getting antsy.

Will they get what I was doing? Or will they think I’m crazy for even trying it. And the problem is I got two Muslims to read it but I didn’t get a nonMuslim viewpoint on it!

I can’t imagine any nonMuslim hating it, but the sequel is so very DIFFERENT in tone from Wanting Mor.  And it’s not political and it’s not quite provocative, it’s just a good love story.

I went to a party at my publishers’ house a few years ago during the holiday season. I was one of two authors invited to meet the sales team who’d arrived to familiarize themselves with the new season’s books.

The most uncomfortable part of the whole party was trying to avoid the golden labrador retriever who was padding around the house, mingling with the guests.

Somehow dogs are naturally drawn to me.

It’s a curse.

They practically thrust their muzzles into my hands trying to get me to pet them.

And Islamically that’s a problem.

The saliva of dogs is considered very impure. Getting it on my clothes would render them impure, and then I wouldn’t be able to pray. So I try to avoid them.

At one point I was sitting on a couch and the dog was passing by, and I just gently pushed her away to keep her mouth from coming close to me.

Later, as I was leaving, the host had noticed me doing that. I told her that I wasn’t trying to hurt the dog, I just needed to keep clear of her. She said it wasn’t a problem, then she asked me if I’d seen that for most of the party the dog had curled up at my feet with her head on her paws just watching me talk to someone.

I hadn’t noticed that and I guess it showed in my expression. She said it was a pose of trust.

 Hmm. So that’s why she let the dog roam freely through her guests. I guess her dog sniffed out who was trustworthy.

I know, I know, I’m rambling. But there is a reason I mentioned that party. At the party a number of the sales people and office people at Groundwood came up to me to tell me how much they’d enjoyed Wanting Mor. And even at the time I had started writing the sequel. I mentioned it to one of the young workers and her face lit up. She said she’d love to read it. And then I mentioned how I thought Jameela was still broken at the end of the story and she needed to fall in love with a really nice man to restore her faith in mankind after her father had abandoned her.

The lady I was talking to looked utterly shocked.

And I realized that yes, put like that, it did sound shocking. It was against the message of ’empowerment’ that I’d preached of so effectively in Wanting Mor. But really it isn’t.

And to understand why, you just have to read the sequel. *g*

But first they have to publish it. And I have no idea if they ever will.

But going back to those people in Tennessee. It would be easy to label them bigots. But I don’t think they’re consciously out to deny the rights of Muslims.

And for goodness sakes, one of the guys was even black! And I thought he of all people should understand what we’re going through!

But really they’re just scared. They don’t know anything about Islam except what they’ve read in the news, and of course that dwells on horror stories and nutjobs. I’ve  heard some people say it’s the job of newsmen to scare you senseless–it’s good for ratings.

And Soledad O’Brien asked one lady who was footing the bill for all the lawsuits whether she knew any Muslims. She said that some relative had worked in Saudi Arabia and she’d travelled extensively. Then O’Brien asked if she knew any of the Muslims in the community.

She said no, and then she went on to say how they’d made no effort to make her get to know them.

And I thought, “Wow!”

It reminds me of a time when I was on this politics forum message board (that I still frequent) where this lady came out and said that even though she lived in a university town with a lot of Muslim students in it, she found that she was prejudiced against them, then she asked me to explain to her why she shouldn’t be.

I declined the honour.

I told her that it wasn’t my job or my responsibility to ease her out of her prejudices. And if she wanted to be prejudiced that was her problem. I didn’t give a damn.

She did not take kindly to my stance. I bet she still holds a grudge. And maybe I did more harm to her feelings about Muslims.

But I have a hunch that her mind was made up and there was little I could have done to change it.

Just like all those other people out there who are bound to dismiss my books because a Muslim wrote them.


I must be crazy.