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.

Books by Muslim Authors, YA Books

Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali – Book Review

This is Sajidah’s debut book and a book I reread for the first time since I read it when it released.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

How much can you tell about a person just by looking at them?

Janna Yusuf knows a lot of people can’t figure out what to make of her…an Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager who is a Flannery O’Connor obsessed book nerd, aspiring photographer, and sometime graphic novelist is not exactly easy to put into a box.

And Janna suddenly finds herself caring what people think. Or at least what a certain boy named Jeremy thinks. Not that she would ever date him—Muslim girls don’t date. Or they shouldn’t date. Or won’t? Janna is still working all this out.

While her heart might be leading her in one direction, her mind is spinning in others. She is trying to decide what kind of person she wants to be, and what it means to be a saint, a misfit, or a monster. Except she knows a monster…one who happens to be parading around as a saint…Will she be the one to call him out on it? What will people in her tightknit Muslim community think of her then?

Honestly I appreciated this book a lot more during my reread than I did the first time I read it. It’s a story that deals with several important topics within the Muslim community that don’t get enough attention and ways to deal with these issues openly and without stigma.

Janna is 15 and going through what a lot of Muslim teens go through living in the west, how to balance your faith and trying to fit in. A lot of youth don’t have someone they can trust to turn to for help in navigating this so they do so on their own and no one is perfect so they can make mistakes, they can bow to peer pressure which does happen to Janna.

Janna is assaulted and harassed by a boy who is known to have a wonderful reputation within the Muslim community and so she finds it difficult to speak up about what has happened to her. It was heart breaking to read about how much Janna struggles to work through her trauma completely alone and she also has to listen to everyone talk about how amazing her assaulter is. She even has to be around him because no one knows what he did to her and she can’t find a way to avoid him. He begins to stalk her and start a smear campaign against her because that will make it harder for her to speak up and be believed. It felt so real to read this. She is trying to move on but keeps getting pulled back and navigating all these complicated feelings. She feels isolated and it affects her relationships with family and friends. It was heart breaking to read about it.

One of the things I did love was that Janna may not have been able to speak up about the assault but she knew that it wasn’t her fault, that even though that monster tried to manipulate her she knew it wasn’t. This is something so important to read and see, that it is never the fault of the victim. I think the only thing I wish we got to see more of was what happened after she finally spoke up. Maybe we will get to see this in the sequel!

I also loved the range of Muslim women that are in this book from niqbi Sausan to “Saint” Sarah and even Fizz. Suasan is amazing and a badass, her sass and and how she carries herself wearing the niqab was so wonderful to see. Sarah may seem like a saint to Janna but once she spends some time with Sarah, she realises that actually she isn’t perfect but just trying her best like Janna. Fizz is another person in Janna’s life but one who is also related to the monster, she can be a little judgemental and see Islam in Black and white and it causes a rift between her and Janna. It was great to see all these different women in the book because we are all different and everyone is on their own journey in their faith.

And then we have Nuah, who clearly has a crush on Janna even though she is oblivious. She has a crush on Jeremy and it was interesting to see her journey through navigating her feelings towards him and trying to figure out how to manage these feelings because she didn’t want to date but also did want to spend time with him. It felt real and relatable. She is 15 and many of us have to navigate and balance our faith and our feelings especially at that age it can be difficult and you can feel pressured to do things you may not want to. But by the end she has resolved her feelings and realises that dating isn’t something she wants to do.

Nuah meanwhile is actually a great friend to her and never pressures her to feel or be more than a friend. He also is one of the few people who figures out that the monster has hurt Janna in some way and immediately believes her and says he is there for her if she needs some support and honestly I just fell in love with how sweet he is. I cannot wait to see him in Misfit in Love!

This is a story that deals with many difficult topics that young people deal with in the Muslim community and I am so glad I reread it as I think I appreciated the story a lot more in my reread. I am so excited for the sequel releasing in a few months!

Blog Tours/Street Teams, Books by Muslim Authors, YA Books

Blog Tour – The Theft of Sunlight by Intisar Khanani – ARC Review

Thank you to Harper Teen and Qamar Tours for this arc in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

I did not choose this fate. But I will not walk away from it.

Children have been disappearing from across Menaiya for longer than Amraeya ni Ansarim can remember. When her friend’s sister is snatched, Rae knows she can’t look away any longer – even if that means seeking answers from the royal court, where her country upbringing and clubfoot will only invite ridicule.

Yet the court holds its share of surprises. There she discovers an ally in the foreign princess, who recruits her as an attendant. Armed with the princess’s support, Rae seeks answers in the dark city streets, finding unexpected help in a rough-around-the-edges street thief with secrets of his own. But treachery runs deep, and the more Rae uncovers, the more she endangers the kingdom itself. 

I loved this book so much, it’s a story about a young woman who is often overlooked and underestimated but she is capable of so much more than anyone gives her credit for and it resonated with me deeply.

Rae isn’t like the usual fantasy heroines we see, she doesn’t have secret magic powers, she’s an average girl who has a family and doesn’t have a tragic backstory. She is however a young woman who will protect those she loves and will fight for the people who no one else will fight for. I think this made her so much more relatable and real because she could be any of us. She is smart and resourceful and she perseveres no matter what obstacles are put in her path. She is kind and empathetic but also knows that not everyone is trustworthy and is cautious about who she trusts.

I assure you I am well aware of what I am capable of

She also has a disability and it affects her mobility which means she is often underestimated and overlooked, she is seen as less capable but I really loved how she didn’t allow that stop her from protecting her loved ones and seeking justice. Her internal conflict was so relatable as someone who also has a mobility disability, I really felt for her, how she will sometimes push herself too far and that fear of being looked down on or pitied if someone finds out about her disability, how her disability is the only thing anyone sees. I loved her arc and how she realises her disability may affect some things that she can do but it doesn’t define her and only she decides who she is.

I also completely fell in love with Bren from the first moment we meet him. From his first conversation with Rae I loved their interactions and how he looked out for Rae right from the beginning without making her feel helpless or self-conscious about her disability. He never thinks less of Rae because of her disability and I just loved that so much. He sees her for who she really is and not just a helpless girl. I loved their banter and sass and how they worked together. It was such an interesting dynamic between them as Bren is a thief and Rae doesn’t always approve of things in his life but she accepts him for who he is. Some of my favourite scenes were between them two.

She has more power than the stories grant her.

It was also great to see Thorn again and especially see her happy with Kestrin and how she dealt with her family. I loved seeing their wedding celebrations and it reminded me of a big fat desi wedding! The beautiful clothes and all the functions and food and traditions. I just loved seeing it in the book. It was also a great contrast between the rich and the poor and how different the lives of nobles are compared to the average citizen.

There is also discussions of the violence women face and how they have to adjust the way they live and how they don’t always feel safe. Even Thorn has to deal with this and it was chilling because it was her brother and he was enabled by those around him who didn’t hold him accountable, instead ignoring what he did to her. The comparisons to how this happens a lot in our society was easy to see and I could relate to how Thorn and Rae felt.

While this is a character driven book where we see everything from Rae’s point of view we also got to explore a lot more of the world outside and the politics of the nobles too and how the nobles ignored what was happening to the children as it didn’t affect them directly. We see how it affects Rae and the frustrations she feels and it makes her more determined to help, it was interesting to see Thorn as her ally but she was also limited in many ways because of the politics at play. The end of this book and the plot twists and revelations shook me, I was not expecting them at all. And then the book ends in a cliffhanger which has me dying for the next book!

As much as we ask for help. We have to help ourselves.

I highly recommend this wonderful story with a main character you will fall in love with and root for and I cannot wait for the sequel as there are things which were alluded to in this book that I think will come into play in the sequel, especially the fae angle! Everyone please go read this book!

This is the tour schedule so do check out the other bloggers posts too!

Here are some quote art designs I made with some of my favourite quotes!

Musings of a Muslimah, Reflections

International Women’s Day – Islam and Feminism

So it’s international women’s day and this year I thought I would try to share my thoughts on Islam and Feminism and what it means to me. This is an area that I am incredibly passionate about and will often speak up about these things regarding issues both with how Muslim women are perceived in the wider community and the treatment of women within Muslim communities.

Islam and feminism is a topic that ignites many varying opinions and I often find myself having long discussions with people about this. Some Muslims believe there is no space for feminism in Islam and some believe that it is the way forward and there are many opinions that range from one end of the spectrum to the other. This is also affected by what the word feminism means to each person and how they interpret it. Me, personally, I am somewhere in the middle.

For me feminism is fighting for justice for all women and people all over the world. However, to me justice and equality isn’t the same thing. Being equal doesn’t necessarily make things just. So I will advocate for justice for all. This to me is exactly what Islam teaches. Islam teaches that we must treat everyone with justice and any act of oppression is sinful and every person who was treated unjustly will get their justice whether it is in this world or the next. This has always brought me peace to know that Allah is The Just and that He will always make sure that we are all given our justice. So for me feminism and Islam go hand in hand.

I can however see why many have issues with calling themselves a feminist, the media perpetuates a single type of feminism and many of us have encountered people who believe in this type and that we must all adhere to this or we aren’t feminists. This type is white feminism and I truly hate this brand of feminism. It only advocates for certain women who look like them and that we must all believe in these beliefs. I have been told by white feminists that to truly be free I must take off my hijab and my refusal to do so is in fact internalised misogyny. They don’t think that women can have different views on what is empowerment for them. For many this is the only view of feminism they have seen and so are obviously hesitant to call themselves feminists and be linked to this brand of feminism.

Islam has given women so many rights and yet all we see are the narrative that Muslim women are submissive and oppressed. This is the only narrative the media is willing to show everyone and yet when you actually look at Muslim women we are excelling in so many areas. Yes, there are those who want to keep us submissive and do so in the name of our faith but that doesn’t mean it is the reality of so many of us. It is an issue all over the world no matter what culture or religion you come from. Yet Muslim women are often singled out, even though Muslims come from all walks of life and cultures.

When you look at what Islam actually says about women you will see that we are given such a high status in our faith and we have so many rights from owning property, education, working, our money is ours and so much more. We are to be treated with the utmost respect and when you see Muslim women throughout history you will see they were incredible women. They were scholars, warriors, queens, scientists and more. They were feisty and opinionated and fought for what they believed in. They were not these submissive meek women that people today would have us believe.

Over the years I realised that this is a battle on two fronts, one is the wider society and media that will perpetuate a single harmful narrative and the other is that there are people within the Muslim community who want to keep that patriarchal society where women are controlled by the men in their lives as this is what benefits these men. But more and more we are seeing change, we are seeing that there are so many incredible women excel in so many ways. And at the end of the day whether women choose to study, work or decide to stay at home, be a full time mother (les face it this is a whole full time job) it should be these women’s choices. Not something that is enforced upon them.

For me the more I learnt about Islam and women in Islam the more empowered I felt. I knew my rights, I knew what Islam said about women and it helped me to actually build a better relationship with Allah. I learnt about justice in Islam and how everyone will get their justice for any form of oppression that happens to them and that this is why we need to be extra careful in how we treat people (and even animals and plants) because we will be held accountable for our actions. I spent time learning about Islamic history and especially women throughout history and I was left in awe of how incredible these women were.

My journey started with learning about Khadijah (ra) who was the first person to become Muslim and was the wife of the Prophet (pbuh). She has been my role model since I was a teen and she has been the person who has truly shaped who I am today. She taught me so much and in many ways she saved me. Growing up in a culture that treated women as less, despite that Islam advocates for justice and equality in treatment towards men and women. I felt suffocated at times and it made me push away from my culture and faith but after I learnt about her and how she was a successful businesswoman and did so much for her community, known as the Princess of Quraysh and still perfected her faith. For her there was no contradiction in fighting for justice for women and her faith and it made me re-evaluate and go and learn more which lead me down the path I am on today.

I will continue to advocate for justice for women both within our communities and share how incredible Muslim women are through the blog posts I write and more. I will continue to learn and grow and my journey will continue to change me because I know that the person I was 10 years ago isn’t the person I am now.

If you want to learn more about Muslim women throughout history, I share a monthly blog post series about them. You can find it here.

I have also written a whole post about Khadijah (ra) and how much she means to me which you can read here.