Muslim Girls Rise

“People may tell you that you can’t do something because of the way you look, dress, or pray. Your name may sound different. Never forget that you are extraordinary. You are powerful, brave, and clever. Great things come from people like you.”

—Saira Mir

This nonfiction picture book from Salaam Reads showcases nineteen contemporary Muslim women who are doing extraordinary things.

These are the women who are featured:

  • Amanda Saab is a former cooking competition contestant as well as the founder of the Dinner with Your Muslim Neighbor initiative and her own bakery.
  • Amani Al-Khatahtbeh is the founder of the MuslimGirl website.
  • Hana Tajima is a fashion designer; she has worked with UNIQLO to make clothing for hijabi women.
  • Dalia Mogahed is a researcher and political advisor.
  • Hibah Rahmani is a flight control engineer at NASA.
  • Ibtihaj Muhammad is an Olympic fencer.
  • Ilhan Omar is a member of the US House of Representatives.
  • Ilyasah Shabazz  is a writer and activist.
  • Linda Sarsour is an activist and was a leader of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington.
  • Malala Yousafzai is the youngest person to ever win the Nobel Peace Prize; she fights for the education of girls worldwide.
  • Maria Toorpakai Wazir is a world champion in squash.
  • Maryam Mirzakhani was the first female mathematician to win the Fields Award—the highest honor in mathematics.
  • Muzoon Almellehan is a Syrian refugee who spoke about the importance of education at the UN.
  • Negin Farsad is a comedian.
  • Nura Afia is a makeup artist and advocate for beauty equality.
  • Kamala Khan is a superhero! While she is fictional, there are two amazing Muslim women behind her character: G. Willow Wilson is the author behind the comic book series, and Sana Amanat is the artist at Marvel Comics who teamed up with Wilson to create her.
  • Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy is a filmmaker.
  • Shirin Ebadi has been a judge and a lawyer, and she was the first Muslim woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Each spread includes an illustration of the featured woman at work, a quote from her, and her story. The stories focus on how the women turned their childhood interests into a way to be their most authentic selves and change the world.

The women who are included represent a range of interests and careers across the arts, sports, intellectual pursuits, and activism.

“Never take no for an answer. If a door hasn’t opened up for you, it’s because you haven’t kicked it hard enough.”

—Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy

A copy of this book belongs in every classroom and library, and while this book is intended for children, I can see it being of interest to people of all ages.

Muslim Girls Rise is out from Simon and Schuster on 10/29 and you can find it here: Goodreads | Simon and Schuster | Amazon.com | Book Depository

I received an ARC of Muslim Girls Rise from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Prayers of the Pious

What a gem of a book!

Prayers of the Pious is a book based on the series done by Omar Suleiman in Ramadan 2018. I must be the only person who wasn’t aware of this series until the book was published, because even though I love Omar Suleiman’s work, I don’t like to listen to anything short-form. So this book was perfect for me. It has thirty duas from our pious predecessors for the thirty days of Ramadan. Some of the duas are familiar ones from the sunnah and others are truly unique.

The duas appear in Arabic along with their transliteration and translation and are followed by their backstory and some explanation of the deeper meanings inherent in the duas.

At the end of the book is a Prayer Journal with prompts that remind readers to use the names of Allah and to call on Him for all of their needs.

The book is beautifully produced, in a perfectly sized hardcover with silver foiling on the cover, full-color pages, and a ribbon bookmark. It would make a beautiful gift. 

I can see myself returning to this book every Ramadan to benefit from the beautiful duas and the heartfelt stories behind them.

Thank you to Kube Publishing for so kindly sending me a free copy. 

Find it here: Goodreads | Kube Publishing | Amazon.com | Book Depository

Love from A to Z

If a YA novel is about a female Muslim protagonist who falls for a guy, the chances are that he is a non-Muslim. This is annoying to me not because it doesn’t happen, but because the opposite happens, too, and is so infrequently written about. S. K. Ali’s newest contemporary YA novel, Love from A to Z, is about that sadly neglected story line—what happens when a Muslim guy and girl fall for each other. It’s well-written and complex: the characters, who are both relatable and endearing, each have their own issues to deal with, and it is so refreshing to see a YA novel that tells a romance story with practicing Muslim characters.

This is the story of Adam and Zayneb, who meet in Doha over spring break. But it’s not really spring break for Adam because he’s not going back to school. He’s just been diagnosed with MS, which his mother died of years ago. Zayneb’s spring break is also complicated: she’s taking it one week early after being suspended for a run-in with an Islamophobic teacher at her high school. After a serendipitous initial meeting in a London airport, Zayneb and Adam meet again in Doha:  Zayneb’s aunt, who she’s staying with, is an old friend of Adam’s mother.

The book has a (delightfully sage) narrator who begins and ends the book and also butts in in the middle for an interlude. But the majority of the book is told through the journal entries of Adam and Zayneb. In an (again) serendipitous turn of events, they both keep a journal called Marvels and Oddities, in which they record the marvels (wonderful things) and oddities (not-so-wonderful things) they experience. True to his character, Adam’s journals are full of marvels. If you were to ask Adam what he wants most in the world, he would say peace. Zayneb’s journals are full of oddities, and if you asked her the same question, she would say justice. Throughout the book, Zayneb’s struggle is how to harness her anger into beneficial action that will have long-lasting effects. Adam’s struggle is to go after what he wants. Their struggles are real and timely, and I found the ending really satisfying.

I highly recommend this heartwarming and powerful YA novel about falling in love, believing in yourself, and trusting in your community of friends and allies.

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Find it here: Goodreads | Simon and Schuster | Amazon.com | Book Depository

Thank you to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for providing an eARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Tower

The Tower is Shereen Malherbe’s newest contemporary novel. It takes place in the UK and is loosely based on the Grenfell Tower fire, in which 72 people died when the social housing complex was destroyed. This quiet and contemplative novel is told from the alternating points of view of two women who move into the building from very different lives. View Post

Ayesha Dean: The Seville Secret

The Seville Secret is the second installment in the Ayesha Dean middle grade series by Melati Lum. It follows Ayesha, a hijabi Australian teenager, as she travels and solves mysteries with her friends.

In The Seville Secret, Ayesha goes with friends Jess and Sara and her Uncle David to Spain. He has business to attend to while the girls go on holiday. On the plane, they meet Kareem, who is going to Spain to look for his grandfather, who disappeared while studying some ancient jewels. Ayesha offers to help, and adventure ensues. View Post