Proud: My Fight for an Unlikely American Dream by Ibtihaj Muhammad with Lori L. Tharps

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Ibtihaj Muhammad’s new memoir begins on the first day of fourth grade. The teacher, who is finding the seven letters in “Ibtihaj” too difficult to pronounce, nonetheless locates Ibtihajj by connecting her last name (Muhammad) with the scarf she’s wearing. The teacher tells her that she’ll call her “Ibti” instead. Ibtihaj goes along with this, but she notices that her teacher doesn’t have any trouble with other longer names: Elizabeth (nine letters) and Jennifer (eight).

This story sets the tone for the rest of the book. Muhammad’s home environment was loving and supportive, but she was challenged in nearly every other space for the right to be present and to be herself: black, Muslim, and hijabi. View Post

My First Quran with Pictures Juz Amma Part 1 by Shereen Sharief and illustrated by Nicola Anderson

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I was intrigued by this book from the first moment I saw it on social media. It’s the kind of project that we don’t realize how badly we need it until we actually have it. I’m so excited for Shereen Sharief, and I pray that Allah makes this project heavy in her scale of good deeds. The Quran plays such an important role in the life of a Muslim, and there is no doubt that teaching children the meaning of the Quran is a priority. My First Quran with Pictures is a fantastic resource to facilitate understanding of the verses children memorize and use first: Juz Amma.

What makes this book unique is the format and the fantastic illustrations by Nicola Anderson. The name of each surah appears clearly at the top of the page in Arabic and English. Some surahs have a paragraph of background information at the top (including the cause of revelation if applicable). Each Arabic ayah appears near its illustration. The English meanings of the ayahs appear at the bottom of the page. All ayahs are clearly numbered so it’s very easy to find the English that corresponds to the Arabic, and the opposite.

At first I was confused about how to read this with my children. After we worked out a rhythm, they didn’t want to stop. The method we worked out was that one of them would read the surah on the page, pausing after each ayah. When they paused, I would read the English translation out loud. And then they would read the next ayah. All the while, I used a finger to follow along with the Arabic ayah in the book, which is conveniently placed next to the illustration depicting the meaning. View Post

Muslims in America: Examining the Facts by Craig Considine

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Engaging enough to be read cover-to-cover, but organized as a work of reference, this book of questions and answers combines the evidence-based rigor of a monograph with accessible prose to make this the perfect reference volume for academics, activists, and religious leaders.

Published as a part of ABC-CLIO’s Contemporary Debates series, Muslims in America is comprised of thirty-one questions grouped into five chapters: the history of Muslims on American soil, demographics and diversity, politics, Islamophobia, and American national identity. Each question is answered in three parts. “The answer” is the short answer to the question. “The facts” contains the detailed answer, including names, dates, and fascinating mini–history lessons. “Further reading” is a list of references related to the answer. View Post

An Acquaintance by Saba Syed

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When Sarah begins her senior year of high school, Jason is just the cute new soccer captain. But as they spend more and more time together, Sarah feels increasingly conflicted about the nature of their relationship. She still insists, however, that he is just “an acquaintance.”

I read through this compelling story in a single day. I couldn’t put it down until I found out what would happen to the characters, and when I finally did, I kept thinking about the complex themes Saba Syed explores through the life of a teenage girl.   View Post

Pious & Professional by Sohair Omar

I frequently browse the Publishing category on LaunchGood to see what exciting bookish projects people are working on.  I happened upon Pious & Professional about a month ago, and I was intrigued.

It’s a book full of advice for Muslim women on how to maintain their Islam in a professional environment. Organized into eleven chapters that cover topics like “The Ultimate Goal: To Please Allah” and “Prayer Breaks and Holidays,” the text reads like a list of bullet points about each topic with lots of Quran and hadeeth included. View Post