Those are the words of Pamela Taylor, a European-American female imam who embraced Islam twenty-five years ago. This past Tuesday, Taylor led a mixed congregation of 50 men, women, and children observing the Eid Al-Adha prayer. There was nothing particularly exceptional about the content of the annual prayer, or khootbah (sermon), that followed, but a female Imam leading men and women praying side-by-side is anything but typical.
It’s no wonder that Danyal Mueenuddin’s extraordinary collection of linked stories, In Other Rooms, Other Wonders, is creating a buzz all the way from People Magazine to The Economist. The truth is that I can’t wait to go home and read another chapter, and it’s not often that I get to say that. In the first chapter we meet Nawab, the crafty electrician, who uses the challenge of having sired twelve daughters for whom he must provide dowries as a goad to stretch his resilience, resourcefulness, and sleight of hand. In the second chapter we meet Saleema, a maid who resolutely sleeps her way up until she falls for a fatal form of true love in the arms of an aging valet.