When did you last read a book?
According to some surveys, young people are reading less and less. In fact, one statistic says that only half of children read for fun, presumably only getting their heads stuck into books for homework and study. This gives books the unfair reputation of only being associated with schoolwork. Or exams. Or dreaded deadlines…
So it was great to see Buzzfeed recently publish a story about Muslim women authors who are finding their voice. They spoke about what they write, who they write for, and the challenges they face, which reminded us that books are not just for school (or about Harry Potter).
The first interviewee is Shelina Zahra Janmohamed, the British author of Love in a Headscarf, a memoir of growing up in Britain as a Muslim. She says that she discovered “that there were all these vibrant, dynamic, energetic, pioneering stories that happened to be being lived by young Muslims but nobody was joining the dots and telling those stories.” Her writing has an incredibly strong Muslim element to it and as Shelina says, she certainly wears this on her sleeve!
Another writer speaking to Buzzfeed is Australian Randa Abdel-Fattah. She says: “It’s exciting times as we see more and more Muslim women writing, and not just writing ‘as Muslim women’ but simply as writers, exploring lives and stories that don’t necessarily speak to a ‘stereotype’ that needs to ‘debunked’.”
Na’ima B. Robert was born in the UK and grew up in Zimbabwe. She says she found it difficult to find books in Britain that could speak to her son about his identity, so she decided to start writing some. Na’ima says she loves awe-inspiring children’s literature, but found that “there was nothing like that from Muslims, or about Muslims, and so that’s really what I went out to do.”
All the women Buzzfeed spoke to are creating much-needed literature involving Muslims aimed at young readers. They’re experiencing success and being welcomed by the publishing industry, which is increasingly putting out books which have the power to make reading fun for a new generation.
Last year, The Huffington Post also focused on Islamic literature in an article called, ‘11 Must-Read Books By Muslim Authors’. In it, they invite readers to explore the richness and beauty of Islam.
“[Islam is] a rich and beautiful faith, full of the rituals and traditions of everyday people who pursue lives of meaning like anyone else,” they write. “If you’re seeking to explore Islam more deeply, you’ve come to the right place.”
We agree. There are some beautiful books listed in the article which are well worth a read.
Ever wondered if there is a novel in you? The best way to find out is to read. And read a lot.
We hope you find some inspiration in some of the books and authors in these articles. Happy reading!