Book Review: Areebah’s Dilemma: Love or Deen
By Layla Abdullah-Poulos ’10, graduate student, SUNY Empire State College
September 24, 2015
Areebah’s Dilemma: Love or Deen
By Karimah Grayson
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
$14.99, 280 pp, Paper
Life is often fraught with ethical quagmires that make it necessary for one to make tough choices. In Areebah’s Dilemma: Love or Deen by Karimah Grayson, the main character must decide whether or not she will enter a relationship that may produce negative consequences for her faith. Areebah, a happily married Muslim woman, is preparing for the death of her terminally-ill husband. At the same time, she is presented the chance to become reacquainted with her long lost love, Frankie. Unfortunately for Areebah, Frankie is not Muslim, which makes him an unacceptable suitor. Added, is the fact that Frankie is married, so she also must decide if she will play the role of homewrecker.
Throughout the novel, Areebah struggles with negotiating her feelings and the reality of her life and society’s expectations. As a Muslim woman, there is no avenue for a lawful marriage in the faith to a non-Muslim man. Because of the religious prohibition, Areebah’s family is completely against her even thinking about becoming involved with a non-Muslim. She decides that a relationship with Frankie is impossible because “no matter how much she cared about him, she loved Allah more.” However, Areebah’s resolution does little to extinguish her feelings for Frankie.
Grayson does a good job showing readers how the main character’s faith and personal desire come into conflict. Areebah tries many times to forget Frankie and fill her life with other activities. Grayson writes, “She embossed herself within the Islamic community. She chaired many committees as well as was on the board of multiple not-for-profit Islamic organizations.” Areebah’s activities only serve as temporary distractions. Grayson writes, “Although this kept her busy, when she was home at night in bed alone, her thoughts drifted to Frankie.” The author effectively demonstrates that something potentially positive as love and companionship can create tensions in one's belief system.
Frankie has his dilemma. Once his marriage ends, he wants to pursue Areebah. However, he is faced with the fact that the woman he loves will not consider him because he does not belong to her faith. Thus, it is faith that presents a formidable obstacle to the lovers ever being together.
Areebah’s Dilemma: Love or Deen is an example of a romance novel written by a Muslim author. Romance can be culturally specific, so it is exciting to see its addition to the emerging Muslim Fiction genre. In many Muslim cultures, romance, love, and sensuality are framed in an Islamic context. As a result, ideas about them can manifest very differently than in other cultures. Grayson ultimately sketches a love triangle involving a woman, man and God with multiple layers that demonstrate the significant role faith plays in one’s life.
Layla Abdullah-Poulos launched a video book review series as part of her MALS graduate studies. Check out her review of Areebah’s Dilemma: Love or Deen at http://nbamuslims.com/book-reviews/