Title: Laughing All the Way to the Mosque
Author: Zarqa Nawaz
Rating Out of 5: 5 (I will read this again and again and again)
My Bookshelves: Biographies, Comedy, Memoirs, Muslims
Dates read: 21st April – 7th May 2019
5th sentence, 74th page: ‘Too late,’ said Dr McMaster.
Being a practising Muslim in a Western society 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 inappropriate 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 htat very (horrified, then proud) community.
You have to laugh.
I’ve not really read much about Muslim culture and religion. I’ve really only recently started to delve into the world of non-fictional books. It’s an area that is absolutely fascinating and I can’t wait to continue to find more and more stories like this. Especially written as well as this novel. Nawaz is brutally honest about her life and her religion, but tempers everything that could feel quite serious with a lot of humour. I was constantly laughing out loud throughout this story. And at the end of every long day, I couldn’t wait to pick it back up again.
Most of the biographies that I’ve read lately follow a very linear storyline. They’re the kind of tales which work in a very obvious and understandable manner. They’re not jumpy, and they tend to cover a smaller span of years. Laughing All the Way to the Mosque was completely different. Each chapter was a whole new adventure. Which made the storyline overall incredibly jumpy. Actually it almost worked as a series of short stories together, rather than one big, long journey.
Zarqa Nawaz not only sweeps you away with her humour and wit. But, she also helps to conceptualise and help you to understand the ways in which a coloured, Muslim woman sometimes struggles to fit into contemporary Canada. I may be from Australia, but I imagine that many people are in the same situation. This insight provided a great way in which to understand just how difficult life can be from someone who is a minority. And just how funny some of the gaffs made when you are trying to marry different world views together and fit into the society that you call your own…
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