Inspirational People

Inspirational Muslim Women Throughout History – Nusaybah bint Ka’ab

I have wanted to share these stories about the amazing women throughout Islamic history and their achievements and I thought as it was International Women’s Day recently I would share them starting from this month. I’m not sure how many parts there will be yet but I hope you will enjoy reading about these amazing women!

The first woman I want to share with you all is Nusaybah bint Ka’ab who is one of my favourite female companions of the Prophet (pbuh). She was such an amazing woman, strong, confident, courageous and she didn’t let societal and cultural norms from achieving great things. She was a fierce warrior and fought alongside the Prophet (pbuh) and her husband and son. She was known for how fearsome she was both in battle and outside and she was an activist too.

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This was a woman who the Prophet (saw) prayed for her and her family that they will be his companions in Jannah.

She was an early convert to Islam, from among the Ansar (people who were from Madina). She was renowned for her courage on the battlefield and was present in many important events. She was at the pledge of Aqaba, battle of Uhud, Khaybar, treaty of Al-Hudaybiyyah and the battle of Yamama.

She was one of two women who pledged their allegiance to the Prophet (saw) at Aqaba, just like the men. The only difference being that the Prophet (saw) didn’t shake her hand. Once she became Muslim she dedicated her time to the education and training of women in Islam.

At the battle of Uhud she was one of the few companions who continued to fight when most started to retreat from the battle when rumours spread that the Prophet (pbuh) had been killed. She protected the Prophet (saw), fighting with a bow and arrow and then with a sword. Alongside her, her sons and husband also protected the Prophet (saw). During this battle she suffered from several wounds. She suffered from more wounds in the battle of Yamama.

Speaking about the battle of Uhud, Umar (ra) said that he heard the prophet (saw) say “I did not turn right or left in the battle of Uhud but that I saw her fighting near me.”

After the death of the Prophet (saw) under the khalifah of Abu Bakr (ra) she fought against Musaylima (a false prophet) and when asking for permission to fight, Abu Bakr (ra) said, “We know your worth in war, so go out in the name of Allah.” At this time she was around 60 years old. It was during this battle that her hand was cut off.

She was such a fierce, strong woman who even the most prominent companions respected and admired. Which considering that these were people who lived in a very patriarchal society was not common.

She also wasn’t afraid to go to the Prophet (saw) and ask questions or speak her mind about what was troubling her to gain clarity. She would even go on behalf of other women who felt too shy to speak out in a public gathering.

She even spoke to the Prophet (pbuh) saying that women should be given exclusive access to him on a regular basis to study from him as the men would often take up all his time when asking questions during the lectures or gatherings. So then there was women’s only classes and they could still attend the general gatherings as well.

She was the one who went to the Prophet (saw) and to ask why the Quran only mentioned men and women were deprived of importance. This resulted in an ayah being revealed because of her. I just love her strength and determination in advocating for women’s rights!

There are so many more amazing women throughout Islamic history and we don’t get to see or learn about them and they are often left out of western history teachings but they are there and they were amazing!

These are the women I grew up hearing stories about, the women that I drew inspiration from and were my role models from a young age. So I thought that I would share some of my favourite Muslim women throughout history with you all. I will be sharing more soon!

Lifestyle, Reflections

What Feminism Means To Me – International Women’s Day

Over the years feminism and I have had a love hate relationship. I have slowly developed a relationship with the term even though I have been a strong advocate for female empowerment since I was teen. It’s just that word, feminism, and everything that comes with that word, that I haven’t always been on good terms with.

Anyone who knows me will know that I am always advocating for female empowerment whether it’s through discussing how important having access to a good education is important for women to talking about stigma’s in society that creates injustices for women. As I am part of the south Asian community, I especially discuss how certain cultural practices harm women and should be stopped. I have had to fight these barriers and stigmas growing up so I fight against them to help my sisters to help my cousins to help those who are younger than me so they don’t have to grow up with the same stigmas.

Yet do I call myself a feminist? I have gone from calling myself a feminist proudly to distancing myself from it to saying yes I am a feminist but not one that the media shows to so much more. Basically, it’s complicated. It’s complicated because I am a brown, Pakistani, Muslim woman who wears a hijab. I don’t “look” like a feminist. What does a feminist look like anyways?

Well mainstream media will have you believe that a feminist is a white middle class woman and I clearly don’t fit that description. I call that white feminism. It’s a type of feminism I hate because there is no space for women who don’t look like or have the same opinions as them. It’s women like these who made me want to distance myself from the term.

I have been told that I NEED to take my hijab off to be “liberated” and how they feel so sorry for me because of how I am “forced” to dress and when I tried explaining I did in fact choose to wear what I wear, I was told I don’t understand, it’s just internalised misogyny. Safe to say that we did not become friends.

After a while as I got older, I realised that actually female empowerment doesn’t only look the way that they say it does. As I studied Islam more I found that the religion is so empowering for women. It made me even more passionate about speaking up about female empowerment. I realised that a lot of the cultural practices go against what Islam teaches. I changed, I grew, I taught others around me and although the elders still cling to their cultural practices I have found that the youth fight for their rights, especially young women. For example, girls are often not allowed to go into higher education yet in Islam it is compulsory for every man, woman and child to be educated so women knowing this means they can fight to be able to study further.

Another reason that I have a complicated relationship with feminism is because of a lack of women we are shown as empowered that look like me. The last few years especially, I have noticed that a lot of feminist books are being published yet there is still no sign of women who look like me. Most of the women are white and if there is a Muslim woman included it is always Malala, no offence to her but in 1400 years of Islamic history is she really the only woman that is worthy of being included? It’s actually made me stop reading these types of books unless I know that more diverse women are included. I ended up doing my own research into Muslim women and the results were astounding, since the beginning of Islam women have been a part of all areas of society, from warriors to doctors to scholars to rulers and so much more. It’s these women who encompassed all parts of my life who became my role models.

So yes, I am a feminist and I think it’s time we broadened our idea of what feminism is, because it means different things to different people and they are all valid. I can wear a hijab and be empowered, I can follow my religion and be empowered. In fact I feel more empowered because of my religion. I will continue to learn and grow but I will always fight for female empowerment.

2019 Round Up, Muslim Shelf Space

Books I Read This Year From My Muslim Shelf Space

We are finally getting more books being published by Muslim authors and I am so excited to read them all! I am already excited to see what books will be published next year and some I am already eagerly awaiting!

I have made an effort to try to read more books by Muslim authors and help to promote them so we can continue to get more books by Muslim authors. I am actually surprised by how many I actually read this year but I am also extremely happy to get such a variety.

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I am going to share my top 10 and then the rest of the Muslim authored books I read this year:

The Kingdom of Copper by S.A. Chakraborty – My favourite book of the year! You should all know by now how absolutely OBSESSED I am with this trilogy and I cannot get enough! I have a Daevabad section on my blog where you can find all Daevabad related posts! You can read my review here

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All American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney – This book blew me away! I had no idea what to expect when I started it but I absolutely adored it and it had me sobbing. I felt so seen reading this book. You can read my review here

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The Candle and the Flame by Nafiza Azad – This book is full of amazing women who are all badass in their own ways. I cannot explain how much I loved this book! You can read my review here

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Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali – The halal romance book I’ve been waiting for my whole life! I adored this book so much! I really loved Adam and I related to Zainab so much! You can read my review here

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All the Things We Never Said by Yasmin Rahman – This book deals with mental health and suicidal thoughts and does so wonderfully. One of the MCs is a young Muslim girl and I finally read a book that incorporated all aspects of my life including my faith in relation to how I deal with mental health. You can read my review here

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We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal – I love the zumra so much! From broody Nasir to charismatic Altair and of course badass Zafira! I cannot wait for the second book! You can read my review here

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Prayers of the Pious by Omar Suleiman – This book is full of beautiful gems and I know I will comde back to it again and again. You can read my review here

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The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah – This is wonderful story of hope even in the worst situations and that the youth can do so much to make changes in the world. You can read my review here

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It’s Not About the Burqa edited by Mariam Khan – Full of wonderful essays that show that Muslim women are not monolith and there is so much more to them than the scarf they wear on their heads. You can read my review here

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Kick the Moon by Muhammad Khan – Dealing with toxic masculinity it was a really great read. You can read my review here

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Ayesha Dean – The Istanbul Intrigue by Melati Lum – review

Ayesha Dean – The Seville Secret by Melati Lum – review

The Weight of our Sky by Hanna Alkaf

Light Upon Light by Nur Fadhilah Wahid – review

The Bird King by G. Willow Wilson – review

A Pocketful of Stars by Aisha Bushby – review

The Battle by Karuna Riazi – review

Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga

A History of Islam in 21 Women by Hossein Kamaly – review

The Arabic Quilt by Aya Khalil

Thorn by Intisar Khanani

Rereads:

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir – review
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty – review

So that’s all the books I read this year by Muslim authors! I have several more on my tbr and I am eagerly awaiting the release of several next year!

What was your favourite book by a Muslim author?

2019 Round Up, Friday Favourites

Friday Favourites – My Favourite (Non-Fiction) Reads of 2019

This is hosted by Something of the Book who created this tag out of a love for lists. There are different topics for us all to be able to take part and you can find the prompts here.  There isn’t a specific number of favourites so it’s entirely up to you how many you share.

I’m going to be sharing my top 10 non fiction reads of the year. I have read so many amazing books so I thought I would split the books between fiction and non fiction.

All of the books I’m sharing on here are one’s that not only were they interesting and insightful but have impacted my life this past year. Some have reignited my passions for speaking up about female empowerment. Some have helped me with my faith. And some have made me, a brown Muslim woman in a hijab, feel seen and heard. So they all mean a lot to me.

So in no particular order, here are my top 10 non-fiction reads of 2019:

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It’s Not About the Burqa edited by Mariam Khan – I loved this book so much! I hope we see more of these type of books being published. You can read my review here

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Prayers of the Pious by Omar Suleiman – Imam Omar is one of my favourite Islamic teachers and so I knew I had to read his book and it was phenomenal. This is a book I will come back to time and time again. You can read my review here

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The Hormone Diaries by Hannah Witton – There was so many things I learnt from reading this book! It’s easy to read and one that you can read different sections at different times depending on what’s relevant for you at the time.

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Fight Like A Girl by Clementine Ford – I had been meaning to read this for a long time and I’m so glad I finally did. It was a really great read and had me pumped! You can read my review here

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I Will Not Be Erased by Gal-Dem – I loved the essays in this book! It made me realise that I wasn’t alone in feeling not quite like I belonged at times growing up. You can read my review here

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Yes I’m Hot in This by Huda Fahmy – I love her comics that she shares on Instagram so when I saw she was releasing a book I knew I had to buy it. It was absolutely hilarious and so relatable! I love flicking through different pages.

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A History of Islam in 21 Women by Hossein Kamaly – I was so excited to see a book filled with Muslim women and their amazing achievements! I really loved reading through it. You can read my review here

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Boys Will Be Boys by Clementine Ford – After reading Fight Like A Girl I knew I had to read this book. It deals with toxic masculinity and the patriarchy and how it is damaging to both women and men. It is a really great book and one that is much needed. You can read my review here

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Love and Happiness by Yasmin Mogahed – One of my favourite Islamic teachers, who’s teachings and books have helped me through some really difficult times. I highly recommend this book and her other book, Reclaim Your Heart, to just read a few pages at a time as it’s full of short words of wisdom.

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Light Upon Light by Nur Fadhilah Wahid – I really enjoyed reading through her short reflections and found most of them very relatable. You can read my review here

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So these are my favourite non-fiction books. What was your favourite non-fiction books? What type of non-fiction do you enjoy reading?

Monthly Wrap Up

October Monthly Wrap Up

It’s the end of October already! This year has flown by so fast! I had a really great reading month this month and read some amazing books and found some new favourites.

I also went to a Manchester Literature Festival event, Clementine Ford came to discuss her new book, Boys Will Be Boys. She discussed feminism, the patriarchy and how toxic masculinity not only hurts girls but how it also hurts boys and only the rich (white) men are the ones who benefit from this structure. She spoke about how we need to speak up against it and make structural changes to actually make a difference. It was a really great event and she was lovely too talk to. I highly recommend reading her books.

So anyways the books that I read this month are:

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1 Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer – Okay so I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading but I had heard great things so I decided to give it a go and I actually really enjoyed it! It discussed a lot of important and relevant issues from poverty to white privilege.

Rating: 4/5

2 Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill – I started off really enjoying it but then I got bored in the middle so I have mixed feelings about the book.

Rating: 3/5

3 The Never Tilting World by Rin Chupeco – I loved this book so much! The incredible world building to the wonderfully diverse and complex characters. I cannot wait for the second book! You can read my review here

Rating: 4.5/5

4 A History of Islam in 21 Women by Hossein Kamaly – Finally a book that has so many incredible Muslim women. I really enjoyed reading this book and I really recommend it especially if you’re not familiar with many Muslim women and their achievements. My full review will be up soon.

Rating: 4/5

5 Scars Like Wings by Erin Stewart – This book is so incredibly heartfelt and I really loved it. If you read Wonder and loved it then I highly recommend this one too. You can read my full review here

Rating: 4/5

6 The Beautiful by Renee Ahdieh – WOW just wow. I loved this book so much! Renee’s writing is beautiful as always and this story is just incredible and you all need to go read it! You can read my full review here

Rating: 5/5

7 War Girls by Tochi Onyebuchi – This book was really interesting especially as it was set in a black panther inspired future world. The main characters grow up in a Nigeria that is at civil war. It’s a period of history I knew very little about and it was a good read.

Rating: 3/5

8 Angel Mage by Garth Nix – This is the first Garth Nix I read and I really enjoyed it. The story was really interesting and there was a great group of characters and a ruthless villain. You can read my review here

Rating: 4/5

9 The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah – I loved this book so much! This is such a wonderful ownvoices book. I just loved the characters and the incredible world that London has created. My review will be up soon!

Rating: 5/5

10 All American Muslim Girl by Nadine Jolie Courtney – I stayed up until 5am reading this whole book in one night. It made me sob and laugh and made me angry and hopeful and I just loved this book so much! I really need you all to go read it! My review will be up soon!

Rating: 5/5

So these are books that I read this month. I really loved several books this month!

 

I also reviewed these books this month:

Boys Will Be Boys by Clementine Ford

Otherlife by Jason Segan and Kirsten Miller

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

Highfire by Eoin Colfer

I also posted these on my blog this month:

5 Reasons Why You Should Read The Light at the Bottom of the World by London Shah

Fiction Books With Mental Health Rep

Lightbearers Book Tag