“The resurgence of austere orthodox practices in the Islamic world, has, no doubt, its roots in complex geo-political issues,” says Azad, who now lives in Massachusetts. “But it's hard not to wonder whether such regression is also not, to a large extent, a push back against what is perceived as the evils of modernity.”
As Muslim women have become more educated and economically independent, they have also adopted new ideas about marriage and family. They are marrying later or not marrying at all. It is no longer unusual for them to marry outside their faith and community, nor to initiate divorce, the rates of which have skyrocketed in Sri Lanka as elsewhere in the Islamic world today. As the dual pressures of orthodox Islam and political fervor bear down, parents face the same challenge that came up three generations ago in the Galle Fort, when girls were first allowed to go to school.
How does one give a daughter her freedom while still upholding the traditions that sustain stable families and close-knit community? that is answered, with touching insight and deeply felt emotion in Stay, Daughter.
“A very raw, and personal look… The book looks at the complexities of the Muslim community.”
--BBC World News
"A loving and approachable coming-of-age story about generational change.
- Kirkus Reviews
"Yasmin Azad's Stay Daughter is a profound reflection on the dilemmas that Muslim women faced and are facing as orthodoxy and identity come up against freedom.”
- Radhika Coomaraswamy, Former Under Secretary-General of the United Nations
Azad is available to discuss the following:
· Why Muslim communities that were once moderate and liberal turned to Islamic fundamentalism with such force in the late-20th and early-21st centuries. The headscarf that one mother and grandmother discarded has been willingly assumed by some of their daughters and granddaughters.
· What happens to conservative Muslim communities when women are educated and become more economically independent. For example, marriage rates have gone down, and divorce rates have gone up in many formerly very orthodox Muslim countries.
· The challenge of balancing the rules of orthodox Islam with the freedom and innovations of the modern world especially as it relates to how girls and women dress, travel, interact with boys and men, etc.
· Loneliness, isolation, and the lack of connection, and how it has impacted mental health in the modern world. The real epidemic in the world is now said to be depression. There is a marked increase, for example of girls deliberately injuring themselves.
· The challenges faced by a child who must straddle two cultures. She is embarrassed and ashamed when the traditional culture she was born to does not meet the standards of more modern societies. Her relatives, for example, do not speak fluent English.
· The truth about women’s lives in traditional Muslim societies. They are not all oppressed and leading miserable lives. It is much more complex. Such societies also support the deep need most women have for community and connection.