‘Saffron‘ the anthology of stories was launched on Sunday, 8th of April at Fringe Theatre, in Johannesburg. Indian Spice writer, Saffiya Ismail Cassim is one of the contributing women authors in this exciting new book.
Editor, Naufal Khan goes in conversation with author Saffiya Ismail-Cassim to explore the book of personal narratives by Muslim women edited by Dr Zaheera Jina Asvat.
Tell me more about the book “Saffron.”
It’s a collection of personal narratives by Muslim Women. This anthology draws on the lived realities of Muslim women. We are sharing poignant stories.
There is an eclectic mix of stories in this anthology; which will remind and reassure you that you as a women are not alone, there are many who walk this journey with you.
Is there a side to Muslim women that you want to convey through this book?
This book has 56 amazing stories that have been curated which are just the tip of a thousand unwritten stories within our South African Muslim communities.
The book and the collective of writers are shattering that ceiling and encouraging other women to write their story. This book has strong, liberated, women who exercising their rights, voicing their opinions. Muslim women make choices, we make mistakes, we have heartbreaks, we carve our paths in our careers, we survive and thrive but ultimately we work it out in the end. Life is a balancing act for Muslim woman like any other women.
There is rarely a space for a Muslim woman to share their thoughts on various topics. This book is that first space where we are breaking the norm through storytelling.
How do you think Saffron will be received in South Africa and abroad?
Saffron is a a proudly South African anthology, by Muslim women for all women. Read our words there are some funny, incredibly thoughtful, inspirational stories.
Personal stories written on our own terms, women who have taken ownership of their lives and created their own identity, without feeling ashamed of what others might say or think.
Inspiring, thought provoking, and uplifting accounts from women, which I hope will be received in the way it was intended.
Storytelling to help all women meander through this journey of life. Being a Muslimah in South Africa is liberating. It makes me somehow more conscientious, more sensitive, and more self-confident and allows me to embrace diversity. We are representing something bigger than ourselves we are representing a whole community.
What message does your personal narrative hold?
Without giving anything away, because I want you to buy a copy of the book.
When I wrote “Beautiful Lies” I was still processing all that had transpired. My narrative was deeply personal; it was raw, I was angry with others, but I was angrier at myself. Being well educated, being an independent women, coming from a long line of strong women, I felt I had let them down and more importantly myself by not doing “my homework”.
That sometimes in our quest to throw caution to the wind, to take that leap of faith etc. we can get caught up in a tailwind and get side-tracked. We need to do a personal 360 of everything which involves ourselves and those we love. When it comes to making life changing commitments, one needs to treat it like a business, do your due diligence, knowing all the dynamics is super important.
With any close relationship as well every now and then, it’s good to take time to reflect on relationships and figure out what, if anything, you want to change or improve. Most importantly there is no shame in walking away, we concern ourselves about society, communities, families and their reaction, and we feel guilty.
Guilt can hold us hostage; we stay stuck in cement not moving forward because we believe we have to stick with it because you cannot go wrong a second time.
I firmly believe the Almighty sends us what we need at the right time to make decisions about our wellbeing, he gives us the tools to think, process, and gain perspective. … Tie your camel first; put your trust in your creator, but tie your camel first.
What advice can you give to women who have a story to tell?
Become an architect for other women. It’s the most rewarding thing you can do especially when someone can learn from it. All our stories are important, there are pearls of wisdom hidden in them, don’t put limitations on yourselves that you cannot be an amazing storyteller. If you have a dream, an ambition, a goal, an aspiration, work towards that goal. Simply put pen to paper and write. It will evolve into a story. If you are working with the intention of accomplishing something that reaches beyond yourself, then it will, just keep at it.
Where can we get a copy of Saffron?
The anthology, ‘Saffron’ is published by African Perspectives Publishing and retails at R240 ZAR.
WATCH THE LAUNCH
A collection of personal narratives by Muslim Women edited by Dr Zaheera Jina Asvat, published by African Publishing, the book launch was held at the The Fringe at Joburg Theatre this past Sunday, April 8th.
SAFFRON: A collection of personal narratives by Muslim Women is an anthology of writing that draws on the lived realities of Muslim women. Food and cooking, hardship and conflict, intimacy, baby-making, children, living with in-laws and self-esteem are some of the experiences unpacked in this collection of poignant personal narratives. This collection will remind and reassure that, although life brings with it many challenges, you as a woman are never alone in what you go through – many women walk the journey with you.
With contributions from Shakira Akabor, Feroza Arbee, Afzad-Al, Najma Ansari, Adela Bootha, Saaleha Idrees Bamjee, Saffiya Ismail Cassim, Maymoona Rajah Chohan, Sabera Chothia, Khairun-Nisaa Dadipatel, Quraisha Dawood, Mariam B. Daya, Ayesha Desai Yasmin Denat, Papatia Feauxzar, Gouwa Gabier, Jamela Garda, Maimoonah Gori, Rehana Gunduwalla (Moosajee), Somayya Hansrod, Waasila Jassat, Zaheera Jina, Safeera Kaka, Fatima Kazee, Raashida Khan, Sumayya Mehtar, Shauqeen Mizaj, N. Moola, Zayboon Motala, Hina Nafe, Nabeela Noorani, Khalida Moosa, Nurnazida Nazri, Dilshad Parker, Nabihah Plaatjes, Layla Abdullah-Poulos, Shaakira Rahiman-Saleh, Mumtaz Moosa Saley, Yumna Samari, Fatima Bheekoo-Shah, Hawa Bibi Shahaboodien, Aneesa Bodiat-Sujee, Safiyyah Sujee, Safiyyah Surtee, Razina Theba, Zara Valli