When I was a teenager in the early 1990s, several young women at my Boston-area high school converted to Islam and began to wear the hijab, a trend that raised some eyebrows. Several months later, the school administration asked my mother, a Pakistani American, to offer her perspective of Islam. As my mother described her relationship to her faith I noticed how my classmates were riveted. I learned the power of personal testimony and saw how curiosity can open up an opportunity for learning.
When my Indian Jewish grandmother married my Indian Muslim grandfather in the 1930s, their marriage was unusual in some ways. But in others it was commonplace. Theirs was a romance of pre-Partition India, and their courtship and early marriage, like so many in Mumbai, unfolded in the grand and intimate spaces of the Taj Hotel — its restaurants, ballrooms and long, grand hallways.