Book Recommendations, Muslim Shelf Space

Why You Should Read Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

I recently reread this book and I really loved it as much as I did the first time I read it and I think I appreciated it more this time.

This book discusses sexual assault and having to deal with the aftermath of this especially if the person who assaulted you is a beloved member of your community.

You can read my review here about why I loved this book so much.

So here are some reasons why you should read Saints and Misfits:

Well, first and foremost the sequel will be out on May 25th and will feature a big fat Muslim wedding and a love story and will have cameos from Adam and Zayneb from Love From A to Z! Check out the hashtag #CelebrateMisfitInLove to see everyone sharing their wedding aesthetics and more!

Muslim Representation

We see so many Muslims in this book, from the Imam of a masjid to the young adults and teens. We see how Muslims aren’t monolith and how some practice more than others and that each one of them has their own difficulties and struggles that they deal with. We see how teens and youth are often active members of the community how the Masjid is more than a place of worship. It’s a place where the young and old alike can meet and find a safe place. I just loved seeing it all.

Janna is a relatable Muslim teen living in the West

I felt her struggles on a deep personal level. She wants to fit in at school but also follow her religious practices. Sometimes they collide and you can’t do both and it can be difficult to manage that. The expectations and pressures from both sides can feel like a lot for a teen. She had a crush on a classmate but didn’t want to date but still had these feelings and now she has to manage and navigate this amongst people who won’t necessarily understand her completely.

Discussions of Rape Culture and Victim Blaming

We meet Janna just after she survives a sexual assault by a monster known as Farooq. As he is in a position of power in the community she finds it difficult to tell anyone what happens and he constantly inserts himself in her life. He tries to convince her she wanted it and it was her fault. She has a lot of fears and struggles to come to terms with what happened and becomes angry about her situation and being unable to do anything about it. The complicated feelings she goes through and feeling unsafe in places she should be safe felt very real. These are discussions that are important to be had especially amongst youth who are often told by society that the victim is at fault and the abuser can often get away with little or no consequence especially if they are in a position of power.

Female Friendships

I loved seeing all the women that Janna is surrounded by! Her best friend Tats was such a wonderful character and truly looked out for Janna. I also loved Sausan who is a badass niqabi and has her own youtube channel. I loved the slow friendship that started to develop between Janna and Sarah and how your own assumptions about a person can be so wrong once you get to know them. I really loved Sarah especially and I cannot wait to see her in Misfit in Love.

Sibling Dynamic

I loved seeing how real the relationship between Janna and her older brother, Muhammad was! The bickering and sniping at each other and yet always being there for each other. The making sacrifices for each other and being the only one the other can turn to for help. How Muhammad relied on Janna for help in being able to meet Sarah in a halal way. It was just fun to see them!

Nuah the Cinnamon Roll

Look, he is the sweetest and I was SCFREAMING at Janna to see what was right in front of her the whole time. A practicing young man who respects women is kind and caring and funny and seems to understand Janna really well. He was adorable and I cannot wait to see him Misfit in Love!

So these are some of the reasons why you should read Saints and Misfits and of course pick up the sequel after!

Musings of a Muslimah, Muslim Shelf Space

Islamic Talks and Series I Recommend Listening To

It’s Ramadan and a time of self reflection and building our relationship with Allah and one way to do this is to learn more about Islam and what it teaches, to learn from the Muslims in the past and to learn more about Allah and the Prophet (pbuh).

I have already shared a post about book recommendations to read to help work on our spiritual relationship which you can read here but I know many of us like to watch talks and attend classes. I miss the weekly Ramadan iftars at my masjid where our imam would give a short talk on various topics before we opened our fast. So I thought that I would share some of the online talks I have listened to and benefited from and inshalAllah they will be of benefit to you all too.

Imam Omar Suleiman does a Ramadan series every year and this year is called Meeting Muhammad (pbuh). These are short 10 minute reminders to help us connect to him and our faith. I absolutely love them and me and my husband watch them together while we open our fast every evening.

I absolutely love Hesham al-Awadi’s series about Women around the Prophet (pbuh). He shares so many incredible women that lived at the time of the Prophet (pbuh). It’s been a while since I listened to it but I did love it a lot.

Yasmin Mogahed is one of my absolute favourite teachers and I recommend you listen to all of her talks that are available online. This one she discusses unhealthy attachments and true love.

Another series that I loved when I listened to was about the Mothers of the Believers by Suhaib Webb. Again, I haven’t heard it in a while but I did love it when I listened to it.

The Firsts series by Omar Suleiman is an incredible series and a unique take on learning about the companions of the Prophet (pbuh) and Islam through their lives. This is an ongoing series.

Maryam Amir is another great teacher who I love listening to. In this one she discusses sustaining a healthy marriage.

I also want to share last years Ramadan series by Omar Sulieman that was about Angels in Islam. A topic that is rarely discussed but so important for us to know more about.

There are so many more I could share but I don’t want to overwhelm you all. These are all of course things we can continue to listen to after Ramadan as we won’t be able to get through all of these in a few weeks.

Book Recommendations, Muslim Shelf Space

Book Recommendations for Ramadan

Ramadan is fast approaching and it seems that we will be having a second Ramadan in lockdown. As we can’t go to the masjid and attend halaqahs or iftars, it can seem like we can’t benefit in the same ways as before.

Though we can still build our relationship with Allah on our own, through reading some great Islamic books. So here are some recommendations of books I have read and benefited from.

40 On Justice by Omar Suleiman

A History of Islam in 21 Women by Hossein Kamaly

Lessons from Surah Yusuf by Yasir Qadhi

Allah Loves by Omar Suleiman

Show Up by Naima B Robert

Angels in Your Presence by Omar Suleiman

Reclaim Your Heart by Yasmin Mogahed

Al Muhaddithaat by Akram Nadwi

Lessons from Surah Kahf by Yasir Qadhi

Prayers of the Pious by Omar Suleiman

Love and Happiness by Yasmin Mogahed

There are lots of amazing books that will be of benefit so please do share any recommendations!

Lots of these books are also available on scribd and you can use my link where you will get 2 months free and I will also get a month free.

Adult Books, Books by Muslim Authors, Muslim Shelf Space

The Black Khan by Ausma Zehanat Khan – Book Review

This is the sequel to The Bloodprint and I just loved it so much. You can read my review for The Bloodprint here

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

To fight against the cruel and superstitious patriarchy known as the Talisman, members of the resistance group known as the Companions of Hira have risked their lives in a failed attempt to procure the Bloodprint—a dangerous text that may hold the secret to overthrowing the terrifying regime. Now, with their plans in ashes, the Companions of Hira have scattered, and the lives of two brave women at the centre of the plot—Arian and Sinnia—face unprecedented danger.

Yet a spark of hope flickers in the darkness—the Bloodprint has survived. It is hidden in Ashfall, the seat of Rukh, the Black Khan, whose court is ruled by intrigue and conspiracy. Treacherous enemies ruthlessly manoeuvre for power behind the throne, including the autocratic Grand Vizier; the deadly and secretive Assassin; the Khan’s deposed half-brother; and the commander of Ashfall’s army, who is also Rukh’s oldest friend.

The Companions of Hira must somehow reunite, break through Talisman lines, and infiltrate Ashfall. A master of treachery himself, the Black Khan joins forces with these powerful women to manipulate them for his own ends. But as Ashfall comes under siege, he is forced to make a deadly calculation… one that could cause irrevocable damage to the Companions and their fight for freedom. 

This book picks up right where the Bloodprint ends and it is a dark book and so painful to read at times but I loved it so much. We see what happens to each of the characters after the ending of the Bloodprint and what they suffer through as they were betrayed by the Black Khan and left as prisoners. Arian and Sinnia have been separated and are unable to help each other. Daniyar is also a prisoner with Arian and is forced to fight to the death every night while Arian is forced to watch. Sinnia has been taken and is being tortured and honestly the first half of the book was incredibly difficult to read at times. But it shows how far people will go to show their dominance and control. Even twisting holy words which advocate for justice to suit their needs.

I did love seeing that Daniyar and Arian really care for each other and that they are willing to endure so much for each. We see that they truly love each other even though Arian will always choose the companions and her responsibilities she still does love Daniyar. It’s such a bittersweet relationship because they have such immense responsibilities that means they can’t be together truly but they are also drawn to each other no matter what happens to them.

Sinnia and Arian’s friendship and sisterhood is such a beautiful thing to see in books, I love seeing wonderful female friendships. There is no jealousy or resentment between them, they love each other and support each other through everything. I also loved seeing Sinnia with the two sisters who saved her when she was being tortured. I hope we get to see more of them in the next book.

The Black Khan has the Bloodprint and has taken it to Ashfall to help with the siege by the Talisman. He is a complex and confusing character, I’m still not sure how I feel about him. At times it seems that he is trying to do what is right and other times it seems as though he has ulterior motives and will sacrifice anyone and everything to gain what he desires. He pursues Arian even though she makes it clear that she is not interested and in love with Daniyar. He refuses to allow his sister to go and study and fulfil her dreams of joining the companions and studying. He is very misogynistic but also allows women in positions of power and is very contradictory. I think he does only what will keep him in power.

This story is as enthralling as The Bloodprint. I loved seeing the characters again and seeing how they interact after everything they have been through. I also liked seeing the new characters and particularly loved the Black Khan’s sister. The ending of this book is devastating and left me wrecked me. I am actually terrified of reading the next book. But also looking forward to seeing what will happen next.

Book Recommendations, Booksish Discussions, Muslim Shelf Space

Why You Should Read We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

We Free the Stars is finally out today and if you haven’t read We Hunt the Flame yet and need some incentive then here are some reasons why you should absolutely pick up this duology! So here are some reasons as to why you absolutely NEED to pick up these books!

The World That Hafsah Has Created

This is an ancient Arabia inspired world and the world building is incredible. We are completely immersed in the world right from the beginning. The intricate details makes you feel like you’re standing right there with the characters. I love that feeling because it will make you feel everything so much more deeply and vividly. The smells and tastes and feeling the heat and the sand. It created an incredible experience when reading.

The Character Arcs

The character development for the characters over the two books was incredible. Our two main characters have such wonderful growth, learning to see that they are more than what they have been made into and I really loved reading their journey. Zafira is a hunter and has been singlehandedly keeping her whole village fed despite their opinions on women and it was so wonderful to see her work through her own self worth and how powerful she is. Nasir has known only pain and killing and his journey was really difficult but seeing him slowly realise he can be more, he can love and be loved was so incredible to see. Altair is my absolute favourite and I am so happy that we got to see more of him and his journey in the books too. He has a painful journey and is full of secrets so we slowly learn more about him and trust me you will fall more and more in love with him with each revelation.

Enemies to Lovers Trope

If you’re a fan of enemies to lovers then you will love this book. The tension and angst and the slow build up will leave you screaming for more. The way they start off by literally trying to kill each other and slowly learn to work together despite their differences. The tentative way they begin to trust each other when they haven’t been able to trust anyone else in this way. It’s pure perfection. Also We Free the Stars takes the sexual tension and turns it full and I was LIVING for their every single interaction.

Zafira is a Feminist Icon

She alone is able to go into the forest in search of food and keep her village alive and avoiding starvation but she has to hide who she truly is because a woman is not worth anything in her caliphate. Everyone thinks the famed hunter is a man and she has kept it this way to help her people. But as she is leaving she reveals who she truly is and vows to show them what a woman can do. The courage and strength we see from her time and time again showing everyone that women are more than capable of achieving great things. She also goes through her own journey of learning who she is and what she is truly capable of no matter what men claim about women. I loved how Hafsah wove this all into the story.

The Banter and Friendship the Zumra Have Together

I loved seeing the banter between the zumra. The sassy remarks they make at each other and how they have light moments despite being in such perilous situations. Altair and Zafira are really sarcastic with each other and I loved seeing it. I love seeing how close they get during their journey even though they start out not trusting each other.

Hafsah’s Beautiful Writing

Hafsah has such a way with words. Her writing is lyrical and lush and I found myself tabbing away at the beautiful quotes in these books. The writing is vivid and descriptive and will evoke so much emotion while you are reading.

I will leave you with some of my favourite quotes from We Hunt the Flame:

“If I told you my name, would you bow?” His voice was soft. A melancholy caress. He lifted his chin when understanding dawned on her face. “Or would you flee?”

Together, we will raise the dunes from the earth, and rain death from the sky. Together, we are capable of anything.

A life without purpose may be no life, but a life without love is nothing but an existence.

There was nothing more respectable and dangerous than a woman of confidence.

Everyone go read We Hunt the Flame and then pick up We Free the Stars because this duology is incredible and deserves all the love.

Disclaimer: Please note I am not responsible for the emotional mess that this duology will leave you in.