Books by Muslim Authors, Diverse Books, Middle Grade Books, Muslim Shelf Space

Aladdin: Far From Agrabah by Aisha Saeed – Book Review

I loved this story so much and it gave so much more depth to Aladdin and Jasmine and their relationship.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

This stunning original novel will tell an all-new story set in the world of the new film, featuring Aladdin and Jasmine. A magic carpet ride full of adventure, suspense, and wonder written by New York Times best-selling author Aisha Saeed, this story will be a must-read for any Aladdin fans who find themselves drawn into and enchanted by the magical world of Agrabah and beyond. 

I listened to the audiobook and I really loved it. The narrator kept me hooked on the story and it was just a great story to listen to while I worked.

The story takes place while Aladdin takes Jasmine on the magic carpet ride and he takes her to his kingdom. Genie creates this kingdom for Aladdin to last as long as they are there with people created from Aladdin’s memories. I really loved getting this glimpse into Aladdin and Jasmine and their backstory.

During the time there Aladdin meets his people and hears their problems and Jasmine joins him. I really loved seeing that Aladdin treats her as an equal and listens to and takes her advice. They work together to help those in need and it was really great to see them in this position. To see what type of leader they would make and how capable Jasmine is despite the men in power keeping her from doing anything for her people. We see how much she cares for her people and how much she wants to do and just how smart and resourceful she is.

We also see how Aladdin is kind and generous and wants better for his people too. We also get to see them both build a stronger relationship with each other as they learn more about each other and see what type of people they really are. I really loved that we get to see them build an actual foundation for their relationship. This is where Aladdin realises he does love Jasmine and we see him battle his moral dilemma of lying to her about who he is. We also see Jasmine start to realise that maybe Ali and Aladdin are the same people and yet she still trusts him.

This was a wonderful story where we get to see more of Aladdin and Jasmine and I loved it. I especially recommend listening to the audiobook as it creates an even more magical experience.

Muslim Shelf Space, The Daevabad Trilogy

Why Alizayd al-Qahtani from The Daevabad Trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty Means So Much To Me – Part 2

Do I need to tell any of you why Ali means so much to me? He has wormed his way into my heart and made himself at home. I have never loved a character as much as I love him and honestly I will never truly be able to express it properly no matter how many essays I write.

I know I have previously written an essay which you can read here but you know what here is another one because I have now read The Empire of Gold and the extra scenes Shannon included on her website and I now have a lot more to say.

Alizayd grows so much throughout the trilogy. From a young age he is motivated to help the poor and oppressed because one of the core beliefs in Islam is social justice. He may not always do it in the best way but that is what makes him fight against even his own family to do what is right. It’s one of the things I love most about him. Every time he fought for justice my heart swelled with love for him. In The City of Brass he is more idealistic but by the time we see him in The Empire of Gold, he has grown wiser and while still idealistic he is also more realistic in what he can achieve and what can be accomplished and it was incredible to see how he told Nahri that this may be something that they don’t even get to see the fruits of but they still need to build a city that is just to all.

One of my favourite scenes is his very first chapter where we see him wake up to find himself in the apothecary and realise all that he has lost and that he cannot help anyone at that moment. The despair he feels was so raw and it left me a mess. This was one of the lowest points for him and in his moment of need and despair he turned to Allah to ask Him for help and guidance. He sat in prayer all day in prostration to Allah turning to the only one who can help him with everything he is feeling. This is a scene that means so much to me. A scene where I truly related and saw myself and how I felt in some of my most difficult times in life. Shannon wrote it beautifully and it left me in tears to see this in a fantasy book. The type of rep I had been too scared to even hope to see in books.

When he is in Egypt we see him completely fall in love with being able to experience the human world like he’s always wanted to and that wonder and excitement was contagious. I really loved seeing him nerd out and completely lose it over toy chickens because when we see characters who are devout, they are often shown in their stereotypes of broody, strict and not really having a personality beyond being the haram police and so to see him be fully fleshed and complex and that he is your average guy even though he is doing his best to practice his religion. It humanised him and even though we shouldn’t have to bear the burden of that it was truly wonderful to see how much he loved seeing everything and his giddy excitement.

Another of my favourite scenes in The Empire of Gold is when he is in Ta Nytry and Hatset tells him to establish himself as king there instead of going to fight Manizheh. He tells them that this isn’t the answer. They need to help those trapped in Daevabad and that him being king isn’t right. There needs to be a democracy where everyone’s voice is heard. That Islam stands for justice and we need to stand up for what is right and be a witness to this. They cannot stand by and watch people being murdered and enslaved.

In this book we see him and Nahri also having to navigate their growing feelings for each other and I know that people have mixed feelings but I personally really loved seeing him try to navigate this as it felt real. Muslims aren’t perfect and so to see a “perfect” Muslim character wouldn’t really work in this trilogy. We see him battle his desires and his conviction to his faith and what we are all taught when it comes to relationships. That a relationship outside of marriage isn’t allowed. This was something that he tries his best to adhere to, we see him literally fight himself when he starts thinking about Nahri and reminding himself that he cannot do anything.

We see him kiss Nahri in a moment of utter despair and longing and neither of them knowing whether they will survive after this. And then he realises that he cannot do this and stops himself and it felt so realistic. We have feelings, we have emotions and you know what we will make mistakes, we will slip and I actually liked seeing that he slipped but that he stops himself and draws a line saying to Nahri that this cannot happen again. And we see that he doesn’t cross that line again. I feel like a lot people can relate to this moment and how easy it can be to give in to those feelings even for a moment.

He spends a lot of this book learning about his own family history and coming to terms with realising that those he looked up to may not be as incredible as he thought they were and that there is a lot in this world he still does not know and it made him a better person and leader. He doesn’t make as many rash decisions like he used to and thinks about the consequences and how it can affect others. I just loved seeing him grow into an incredible leader and pillar of the community.

Later in the book he also leads prayer and again finds solace and comfort in praying and turning to Allah for help. We see how he stays there talking to everyone and making sure everyone is heard and tries to help as many as he can while he is in Ta Nytry. It shows how much he has grown instead of doing what he thinks is the right way to help the people he listens to them and what they want.

The scene when he goes to meet Tiamat and the other marid and he realises he may die here but he won’t go down without a fight and will do whatever he can to protect all those he loves. I feel like this was such a pivotal moment for him. When he realises the price of being able to save his loved ones and Daevabad is to give up the thing that he loves, his jinn magic, his fire magic, and he will even lose the one connection he shared with his father, his grey eyes, I truly felt for him and it shows what a huge sacrifice it is for him to have to give this all up. But he does it, he does it because his love for Daevabad and his family and friends is more than how much he cherishes his magic. He knows that this may make him an outsider to his own people but he still does it. It made me love him even more.

It’s safe to say that I have never loved a character more than I love Alizayd and honestly I have no idea how to move on from these books because of him. His character arc was incredible and I loved seeing all the small details from him being a total nerd, completely hopeless when trying to talk to girls and how he hold on to his faith throughout everything. His activism in fighting for social justice and his strong moral character and just doing whatever it took to save his people even sacrificing his jinn magic made me fall in love with him again and again.

It also helps that he is…well formed and endearing. I will leave you with one of my favourite Alizayd quotes:

Our faith prioritises justice. It tells us to stand for justice no matter what. We are to be a community that calls for what is right, that stands as a witness.

Please everyone go read this incredible trilogy!

Inspirational People

Inspiring Muslim Women Throughout Islamic History – Rufaida Al-Aslamia

This month’s post is about Rufaida, who was the first nurse and surgeon in Islam and her work was considered so important that it is still used today. She drafted the world’s first code of Nursing Conduct and Ethics for preventing sickness and it is still used today. While we are often taught about Florence Nightingale and the things she accomplished, Rufaida has been forgotten and even though she was doing incredible work even before Florence.

She lived in Medina and even before Islam she was already learning about the human body and treating people as her father was a doctor and she learnt from him. When she heard about the Prophet and his message she was one of the first people to go to him and become Muslim. Because of this she was present as a healer from the beginning of the call.

She took part in all the battles that happened and was in charge of taking care of the injured soldiers. She was given her own tent, which was essentially a mobile care unit, to treat those injured and the Prophet (pbuh) himself would praise her abilities and tell people to send the injured to her to treat them. Not only did she treat people herself she also trained other women and was in charge of them during battles too.

Outside of battles she continued to treat people regularly and was even given permission to set up a tent to work from in the Prophet’s (pbuh) masjid. She ran a clinic where she cared for everyone especially those who would not be able to go anywhere else to get help including the poor and orphans.

She was known to be kind, generous and empathetic, a great teacher and organiser and also trained Aisha (ra) in nursing. She taught many health education and even did social work going out into the community to help prevent the spread of diseases. She expressed the importance of hygiene and stabilising a patient before any surgical procedure and more.

She not only revolutionised how people were treated by creating new practices to prevent sickness but also taught many women so that they could continue her work. She was an incredible woman who empowered generations of Muslim women.

Book Recommendations

Audiobooks I loved

I have come to love audiobooks so much. This year especially I have heavily relied on audiobooks to get me through. I have been using Scribd all year and loving all the audiobooks available on there. If you would like to try scribd you can use my link which will give you two months free and also give me a month free! This is my referral link.

So here are some of my favourite audiobooks I listened to this year:

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali

The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco

The Poppy War by R.F. Kuang

The Bloodprint by Ausma Zehanat Khan

Descendant of the Crane by Joan He

Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavours by Sonali Dev

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne A. Brown

Daughter of the Pirate King by

Aladdin: Far From Agrabah by Aisha Saeed

Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez

I have loved these and the narrator makes the story even more enthralling and honestly most of these I have barely been able to stop listening. I highly recommend all of these.

Blog Tours/Street Teams, Books by Muslim Authors, Middle Grade Books, Muslim Shelf Space

Blog Tour: A Thousand Questions by Saadia Faruqi – ARC Review

Today I am sharing my review as part of the blog tour of A Thousand Questions.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Mimi is not thrilled to be spending her summer in Karachi, Pakistan, with grandparents she’s never met. Secretly, she wishes to find her long-absent father, and plans to write to him in her beautiful new journal.

The cook’s daughter, Sakina, still hasn’t told her parents that she’ll be accepted to school only if she can improve her English test score—but then, how could her family possibly afford to lose the money she earns working with her Abba in a rich family’s kitchen?

Although the girls seem totally incompatible at first, as the summer goes on, Sakina and Mimi realize that they have plenty in common—and that they each need the other to get what they want most. 

This is such a beautiful and heartfelt story of two young girls from completely different worlds who end up spending time together over a summer and realise that despite their differences they can be friends and support and help each other. I related so much to both Mimi and Sakina in different ways and I loved both of them but I do love Sakina a little bit more and my heart broke for her and the circumstances she was in.

Mimi is a young girl who knows little about her roots and her family beyond her mum and seeing her realise that she has more family and get to know them better was so lovely to see. When you are a child of an immigrant there are often family members who you don’t get to see very often and it can cause a disconnect from them and your families background because you also want to fit in wherever you are living. So it was nice to see that Mimi gets to experience her culture and meet her grandparents and that by the end she knows that she wants to visit regularly to stay connected with them.

Sakina is a young girl who lives a difficult life and has to work from such a young age to help provide for her family and unfortunately this isn’t that uncommon. Her wanting to make sure her family would be okay while also having hopes and dreams of being able to go to school broke my heart. I was really rooting for her and hoping she would find a way. I related a lot to how conflicted she felt having to choose between her parents and her responsibilities and her dreams. I loved that we got a hopeful ending for her and after everything she went through she got the help she needed.

The running theme of friendship was so beautiful in this book. Mimi helps Sakina learn English to help her get into school and Sakina helps her connect with her dad. I really loved seeing their friendship build and that Mimi would take Sakina with her when going out treating her as an equal. It was also great to see both their points of view so we truly get insight from both their world views.

I also loved how we see real, raw family dynamics and how despite the fact that you love your family you can also have a somewhat strained relationship with them but you can still work on making it better. Initially I did not like Mimi’s grandma but I did like how her character developed throughout the story. Sakina’s dad was a lovable character but because he had diabetes and couldn’t afford the medicine his responsibility fell on Sakina and their family dynamic was interesting too. Each character was complex and I really loved seeing the different sides of them.

I loved that it’s set in Pakistan and we see all the different parts of it and what it’s like to live there for different people. It isn’t perfect but even Sakina was defensive of her home and how much beauty there is there and was determined to show that to Mimi. The food and the culture was really great to see in the book and honestly my mouth was watering remembering how amazing the food is in Pakistan.

I really loved this beautiful story and the bittersweet yet hopeful ending and that two young girls found friendship and support in the most unlikely of places. A story I wish I had been able to read when I was younger and made me reminisce about the few times I have been able to visit my family in Pakistan and Bangladesh.