Ayesha S. Chaudhry, "The Colour of God" (OneWorld, 2021)


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In today’s episode, we speak with Ayesha Chaudhry about her new book, The Colour of God (Oneworld Publications, 2021). The book describes Chaudhry’s personal, spiritual, and professional journey as she navigates her life as a South Asian immigrant Muslim girl raised in Canada. Rich in its analysis of its major themes – such as patriarchy, religion, colonialism, Islamophobia, the family, grief – it pushes us to think more deeply about the choices we make in response to various traumas, such as death or the violence of racism. Readers will appreciate the unapologetic rawness, its very personal but also academic nature, the ways Chaudhry weaves Islamic and Qur’anic themes and narratives into her own. Written in an accessible and engaging way, the book will interest academics and non-academics; it will make for an excellent read for both undergraduate and graduate courses in Women’s and Gender Studies, English courses, Islamic and Religious Studies courses, any courses on Migration, and Theory and Methods Courses, among many others. Chaudhry’s ownership and embrace of an Islam that values her humanity and her opposition to the oppressive, patriarchal Islam that she grew up with makes it an essential read for those seeking an Islam rooted in compassion and love.

In our discussion, Chaudhry shares the origins of the book and its usefulness as a teaching resource. We also talk about puritan Islam and the toll it takes on our humanity and the intersection of patriarchy and Islamophobia, highlighting the complexity of telling a story parts of which may fulfil stereotypes about Muslims and the negotiation that the process of telling such a story entails. Chaudhry also shares her ideas on who the intended audience of the book is and her relationship with that audience, the advice she would give to others interested in writing in this genre, and so much more.

Shehnaz Haqqani is an Assistant Professor of Religion at Mercer University. She earned her PhD in Islamic Studies with a focus on gender from the University of Texas at Austin in 2018. Her dissertation research explored questions of change and tradition, specifically in the context of gender and sexuality, in Islam. She is currently working on a book project on Muslim women's marriage to non-Muslims in Islam. Shehnaz runs a YouTube channel called What the Patriarchy?!, where she vlogs about feminism and Islam in an effort to dismantle the patriarchy and uproot it from Islam (ambitious, she knows). She can be reached at haqqani_s@mercer.edu.

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