By Arturo R. García
I Speak For Myself is a collection about connections: the spiritual to the secular. The public self to the private. One community to another. The point is perhaps made most clearly by Nousheen Yousuf-Sadiq in her essay, “Half and Half”:
After all, I am made up of two parts: my Muslim and American identities. My Muslim identity defined half of my personality, character and individuality, while the other half has been determined by my experience growing up as an American. The balance of the two makes me who I am: an American woman who has discovered her hijab is the greatest beauty secret of all.
Though the contributors’ professions and locations are diverse, some commonalities emerge in the stories shared here: curiosity, confusion (usually some variant of the question, “Oh, you’re really from America?”), and the spectre of Islamophobia that flared up in earnest after the Sept. 11 attacks: “We felt our very identity as Americans was being subjected to scrutiny, challenge, and contestation,” writes Washington Post contributor Hadia Mubarak.