New Books and Interesting Weblinks: An Ummah Reads Roundup

It’s that time again for the Ummah Reads roundup of news, books and interesting websites. Here is what I’ve come across recently:

New Books

book cover image via

The Zahra series is a collection of three books by British author Sufiya Ahmed. These books are aimed to children in the 9 to 12 age category. I haven’t had the opportunity to read any of them as yet but they look appealing to girls. Here are some excerpts from the publisher’s website:

Zahra’s Firt Term at Khadija Academy

Zahra has been sent to an Islamic boarding school and she is not happy. She is desperate to return home and will do whatever it takes to get her way.

Zahra’s Trip to Misr

It is the summer holidays and the Khadija Academy girls are visiting the land of pharaohs and pyramids on what promises to be a trip full of sun, fun and laughter. Trouble however, is not far away and the girls of Form Aleef soon find themselves in the middle of it.

There is a third book in the series as well titled Zahra’s Great Debate.

Press Here by Herve Tullet is not your typical picture book. I haven’t read this book as yet but it is getting lots of positive reviews. It’s a unique children’s book since it is what you can call an interactive book. And its interactive without any devices. All you need is the book and the reader. The simple directions on each page gets a child to sort of ‘create’ the progress of the book by pressing, tapping and shaking the dots that appear on the page. That’s all there is on each page, dots! Dots of red yellow and blue. Here is an excerpt of the first few pages:

Press here nad turn the page.

Great! NOw press the yellow dot.

Perfect. Now rub the dot on the left gently.


There, well done. Now tilt the page to the left…Just to see what happens.

And of course on the next page the dots have ‘fallen’ to one side of the page! This is a book you have to experience for the fun of it. See some sample pages here.



International Children’s Book Day was on APril 4th. It’s a day to promote reading, writing and books in general. Schools, libraries and community centres partake in various activities.

April is National Poetry Month in the United States and Canada. Many people, young and old, enjoy reading and writing poetry. Some ways to use poetry to teach reading can be found here.

Websites & Blogs

Just a few days ago, Kube Publishing began its blog called theKubekidsblog. Kube publishing is a publisher of Islamic books for children, teenagers and adults; fiction and non-fiction. This Muslim publishing company has made a wise choice in entering the blogging world. A blog is a great way to interact with readers and writers (especially new and upcoming writers). Getting the word out about new Islamic products and providing resources to readers and writers are essential in today’s world. Thank you Kube and I hope more Muslim publishers follow your lead. See the blog here.

Choosing a Career – Why Writing is Bottom of a Muslim’s List

Do you know of someone who has made a career out of being a writer? Maybe you know of a young person who wants to become an author or poet? In the winter edition of the Islamic Writers Alliance’s magazine, Amina Malik asks whether parents discourage their children from pursing what she calls ‘non-traditional’ careers such as in being a writer.

Here is the thought-provoking article reprinted with the kind permission of the author and the IWA magazine.

Choosing a Career – Why Writing is Bottom of a Muslim’s List

 © 2010 Amina Malik

“When I grow up” my niece announced proudly to me when she was three years old, “I want to be a Barbie Girl”. Years later (and potential self-esteem crisis averted), I am pleased to report she is focused on more important goals. But what do Muslim parents say when their child suggests a career that is not traditional?

Within the Muslim community, there are pockets of definite cultural influences that shape the career advice parents give to their children. In the Muslim Asian community for example, the emphasis has always been on attending higher education courses in business, medicine, law and mathematics rather than courses in the arts, journalism or philosophy. So where does that leave Muslim writers?

The earliest memory I have of writing is when I was aged 9, writing short stories. By the time I was 11, and in the fourth year of middle school, my teachers were sending me to the first years to read my stories to them. At 15 I began writing for a newspaper, publishing my first journalism article and I also became editor in chief of the school newspaper. By 18 I was writing my first novel and taking a year out before university to complete an internship with a publisher, working on three magazines. 

Given my love for writing, and how I spent my spare time, the natural assumption is that I would become a writer of some sort. But I did not follow a career in creative writing or journalism. I went into law. Why? Because my dear mother (may Allah SWT reward her inshallah), with my best interests at heart, advised me that I would “never make any money in writing”. So I chose law (one of the typical subjects yes, but also one I was interested in). I know mum really did have my best interests at heart so I don’t blame her in the slightest that I did not become the next JK Rowling. Ironically, JK Rowling’s writing has made her more money than the Queen of England, but I can see that mum was right– there is never a guaranteed income when you are starting out. Besides, there is still time to become a best-selling author, and I have continued to write.


Where in my case the advice I was given was to think about my financial future, I know that other parents are advising their children against writing because of how a career in writing is perceived. There is no doubt that being ‘a writer’ is seen in some communities as a fluff career – intangible, without structure and without merit, in addition to yielding a low income. Sometimes, the reasons are less about the child and more about parents themselves. We would assume that everyone wants what is best for their children but this does not always happen. The best advice for parents is to consider; if you base your child’s future on cultural traditions, living vicariously through your children, competing with your neighbor and so on, you stand to lose sight of what will really benefit your child not to mention what your child actually wants.


So what does Islam say about writing? The Prophet Muhammad SAAS was reported in a hadith to have said “the ink of the scholar is holier than the blood of the martyr.” Whilst I do not compare being an Islamic scholar to being a writer, author or journalist, I do think the hadith inspires gaining accurate Islamic knowledge and teaching it. Writing can be about presenting useful information (on any topic, not just Islam) that will benefit others, helping them to improve themselves and the world. If done correctly, and for the sake of Allah SWT, it can also be an act of faith. If a novel, an article, or a poem inspires, teaches and encourages towards good, then surely being a writer has a greater status than many other professions. As with most things, the intention is extremely important, as long as you also understand that you are responsible for your words.


As stated above, the benefits of being a writer may outweigh the benefits of a number of other professions, if you consider the impact words and ideas can have on people. A writer can influence the reader to visualize an event – in the way the writer wants them to see it. A writer can portray a situation in a negative, positive or neutral way. A writer can inspire or educate. A writer actually has more power than people give them credit for.

There are other important benefits to being a writer. Writing is about communication – and Muslims ought be communicating with society as much as other groups; voicing opinions, presenting ideas, and working in areas that may not be traditional but are valid and halal career options.

Media interest in Muslims is greater now than ever before – but the world does not usually see a positive or balanced view, as the religion is usually presented entwined with politics. So where is the Muslim perspective to give the other side of the story? Whilst we continue to encourage the youth to go into more traditional roles, the media is still missing notable Muslim voices. Society needs a cross-section of professions (ideally undertaken by a microcosm of the society so as to achieve the best balance) in order to flourish, and creative writing and journalism have traditionally been under-represented by Muslims.

It is foolish to complain about imbalance or prejudice in the media, which is an often-echoed gripe these days, but to then tell our children “I want you to become a doctor”. How many of us say “I want you to become a writer?”

Not only are Muslims under-represented in the media, but Islamic fiction books are still too few and far between. This means many Muslim children, whilst being able to enjoy mainstream fiction, may never pick up a book and see a character a lot like themselves, perhaps with the same name or the same beliefs. Literature needs to reflect society, making people feel like they belong, and society needs diverse literature to enrich it and promote understanding.

The good news is the new generation seems interested in writing. A new wave of Muslim writers, specializing in Islamic fiction is emerging, with a few novels tentatively breaking into the mainstream. There are also more young people turning to journalism. The interest amongst the new generation is definitely there – but is the support? And how much influence should Muslim parents exert?


It would be wrong of me to say that parents should be encouraging young Muslims to write simply for the sake of balancing the bias that exists. It would be of no benefit to encourage a disinterested person to write simply because there is a shortage, or because there is a need to fill the creative writing void. As with any career, one must consider the pros and cons.

The purpose of this article was simply to point out – writing is a valid career option, even if it is not a traditional role. Whilst it does not suit everyone, it should not be dismissed without any consideration. For those who are able to write a little in their spare time, as well as pursuing other careers, this is still excellent. Whether it is balancing the media portrayal of Muslims, writing children’s books that teach morals and character based on the Sunnah, or writing an article based on an Islamic teaching (checked by a scholar preferably for accuracy), all of this involves Muslim writing. If any work has a purpose which will benefit not only the reader but also their community, then arguably the work has merit.

Ultimately, whatever is best for the child is the path they should be encouraged to follow, remembering to discourage children from harm (unlawful) jobs and to encourage towards the good. But I hope that those who want to pursue careers in writing – literature, poetry, journalism, editing, publishing and more – will not be discouraged from following their dreams without good cause.

For those young people who are unsure of what career to follow if they are presented with writing as a career option, in addition to other careers, clearly more people will choose this career. They cannot choose a career they do not know exists. We do need more young Muslims writing, expressing opinions, having a voice – be that an Islamic issue or more general issue – we need to ensure that society is well represented by Muslims in all areas, as this promotes better understanding for everyone and integration. So, let us remove the stigma and look at the benefits of being a writer. Let us present this as an option and let us encourage those who want to pursue this career.

I also believe we should be careful to safeguard the ‘traditional’ roles – we need scholars, doctors and lawyers (otherwise I would be out of a job!) but we need to remove the strange perception that those Muslims who are writers (journalists, authors and so on) are not contributing to society or do not have ‘real’ careers. I sincerely hope the stigma of writing being a ‘fluff’ career subsides as generations’ progress; I think it is the only way Muslims move forward as a people, and the only way to safeguard the ‘ink’.

Amina Malik holds a law degree and post-graduate qualification in law. She works full time as a legal professional. Writing has always been Amina’s passion and the earliest records of this are short stories written when she was 9 years old. Amina writes freelance in her spare time, writing for newspapers, magazines and online publications. She is working on her first novel and lives in London, England. Her work has been published in: Internet Monthly, The Advertiser Newspaper, Net News Daily, Iqra Newspaper, Fit Muslimah,, Screen Jabber, Booklore, The Voice Newspaper, and soon to be published in The Muslim Paper.

To learn more about the Islamic Writers Alliance (IWA) visit their website. More information about Islamic Fiction can be found here.

It would be wonderful to hear your thoughts or questions on this topic. Please leave them in the comment box below and of course, please share a link using any of the options below.

Muslim authors – Recognizing the work they do

It is high time that members of the Ummah recognize the work of creative individuals who produce quality Islamic literature, particularly Islamic fiction. It’s true that we need to read a variety of books, but when children (students, if you are a teacher) are growing up they need to read about and see characters like themselves in the books that they read. Reading books with Muslim children and teenagers solving their problems in an Islamic framework will help build an Islamic identity, improve their thinking and analytical skills and provide positive role models while enjoying a good story that will entertain them. What more can you ask of a good book?

Over the past fifteen years or so there has been a slowly growing presence of Islamic Fiction on the market. Muslims writers who chose to write books about Islam and Muslims have sacrificed and struggled to write and publish books. Who are the people who write these good Islamic books? In order to help you meet and get to know the authors of the Islamic books that our children read I’ve been interviewing Muslim authors here on the blog. To read the interviews go here. Checkout the list of authors and illustrators that I’ve put together here (or see link below the header). Or visit for an extensive listing of Muslim authors and their works here.

Libraries, author visits and some other things…

A collection of some interesting things (news articles, blog posts) that I’ve found over the few days that I wanted to share with you:

A mother, Muslim American resident in Saudi Arabia for several decades reminisces about growing up in the U.S. and spending lots of time reading at the local public library. Why is it she asks, do libraries not exist in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia? Read more here. My own thoughts and experience with Arab culture tells me that there is simple a lack of a ‘reading culture.’ That is, the Saudi society displays an absence of a collective desire to read not just to improve the mind but for enjoyment. Today’s generation of children and youth prefer to relax with the television, gaming systems etc. You might say that this is no different than youth anywhere else in the world. But the fact is there are few libraries available to the public (academic libraries don’t count). 

Would you like an author to visit your classroom to talk about their books, do some activities, and get your children excited about books and reading? Author visits to schools are normal in many parts of the world (see this news article). I just wished children in Islamic schools can experience the same. On another note it was uplifting to read of a bookstore in the U.S. having an author visit, read stories and sign books earlier this year! See here.

I was happy to read about a new selection of books  about Islam and Muslims living in Europe being produced by a German publisher. Salam Verlag is a German publishing house that focuses on Islamic oriented literature for children. According to the founder of the publishign company:

No real reading material exists in the Islamic communities in Germany which promotes children’s self-confidence…

The language of publication is German but there are plans in the future for publishing in other languages. Read more here.

And that’s about what I wanted to share.

Have you seen/read anything in the news or elsewhere pertaining to reading, books and literacy? Please share. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Add a comment below or use the contact form or email muslimkidsbooks (at) gmail (dot) com.