Recently, a friend asked me, "Where are all the Black Muslim authors?" I quickly rattled off names of author friends that I knew of that were publishing new reading material or had already published solid works. The problem was that my own list was quite slim, but at least I had some names to give her. As the evening wore on, the sting of that question lingered. I decided to embark on some research. I was curious to uncover the cause for why my friend was having such a hard time finding books written by Muslims that looked like her - like me. I opened two new webpages: Google and Amazon.com. I started typing in different strings of words. Time and time again, the results on both sites turned up few and unreliable content. Exasperated, I was forced to echo my friend's exact same words, "Where are all the Black Muslim Authors?"
Four hours into my search, the haze of under-representation began to break up and I began to net some real book jewels out there. What I learned is that there are some factors preventing readers from finding Black Muslim authors. Factor #1, there isn't a black Muslim author category out there. Unless, the author is New York Times bestseller, we are always tucked into the corners and crevices of bookstores online and off. Define your search properly and you will net better results. If you are looking for black Muslim authors who have published cookbooks, you need to jump right into the Cookbooks, Food, and Wine section on Amazon, check out their new releases in the last 90 days and then hit their search tool with tags to further narrow down your results. If you know the name of the author you are looking for, that's even better. Type the name into the search bar and you're there. Amazon will suggest further reading from authors that are similar to the author that you are viewing.
Factor #2 is mostly a good thing and that is that a lot of Black Muslim authors are self publishing. Black Muslim authors are jumping into the market and infusing genres that lack diversity with representations that are by us for us. Black Muslim authors are relying on Facebook pages, Instagram accounts, Twitter, and good ole' hustling outside masajid, in bazaars at Islamic conferences, at cookouts, fish frys, and other Muslim attended functions to spread the word about their publications and make sales. But let's keep it real, there is a downside to self-publishing, albeit small, It can present some challenges. Often times Black Muslim self-publishers won't have a large budget for marketing to create a huge buzz to properly let you know where to find and support them. Also, they may not find as much support within the Muslim community or at masajid to promote their works.
Staying in the know about any Muslim and Islamic authors and their books takes some elbow grease. Muslim readers have to be proactive. Some ways to stay informed are to join mailing lists, search Facebook and Twitter groups for Muslim authors. AfricanAmericanMusilmAuthors on Facebook is a great place for readers to find new literature and poetry by Black Muslim authors.
So now finally, let's get to the fruits of my labor! Here are 30 + books by Black Muslim Authors you ought to have on your bookshelves like right now:
1. Love In Ramadan by Tohib Adejumo. Adejumo's first published work. You can keep up with his short stories on his blog tohibadejumo.com and you can pick up Love In Ramadan at Amazon.com.
2. Mawadah: The Art of Interlocking Souls by Yousseff Kromah a.k.a Seff Al- Afriqi is a poetry collection that should not be overlooked. Whether presenting at conferences, motivational speaking to young black boys and Muslims in Philly, or slamming on stages, Youseff maintains that it's best to #DoItForDeen. Even if you don't think you like poetry, get introduced with this collection! Find him Seff.Al Afriqi and his book on Amazon.com
fitmuslimah.com and get her book on Amazon.com
4. You Are Beautiful by Robyn Z. Abdusamad. Sister Robyn is prolific author of children books that emphasizes diversity and respect. Alhamduleelah, she always includes characters of beautiful brown shades which is so important. Check out her titles over at MindWorks Publishing or Amazon.com
5. Muslim All-Stars: Helping The Polonskys by Khaleel Muhammad. Popular nasheed artist Khaleel Muhammad's first children's book is not to be missed. You can find Khaleel on Facebook, Twitter, and on his blog. You can get this book on Amazon.com
6. Muslim Girl by Umm Zakiyyah. Umm Zakiyyah is the trailblazing author, prolific writer and also an international educator that opened the doors for many Islamic Fiction writers to follow her, including myself. I was 17 when I got a copy of Umm Zakiyyah's first novel, If I Should Speak, and it changed the trajectory of my life, Alhamduleelah. All of her books are great reads! Find Muslim Girl and the rest of her books on her site and also on Amazon.com
7. My Ramadan and Eid Al Fitr Coloring Book by Janette Grant is a real treat. Whether you are a homeschooling family, Islamic studies weekend program, looking for artistic enrichment for your little ones, or an adult looking for coloring therapy, this is a great coloring book to have. Find this coloring book on Amazon.com
8. Khadijah's Got Her Groove by Faatimah Ashaela Moore is the by my sista-friend Fatimah. Fatimah not only writes, but she is a talented artist as well. If you check this list, she has designed and illustrated many, including one of my children's books. But it is this novel that firmly establishes Ibrahim's story-telling abilities and makes her an author to watch.
9. 0 To 100 Tips for Educating Your Muslim Teen Age Girl: Preparing your princess to take advantage of educational options by M.A. Belgrave. With a Master's degree in Community Psychology and a Bachelor's degree in Social Work, brother Belgrave has worked with and assisted many youth in United States and abroad. With so many Muslim parents and teens struggling through adolescence, brother Belgrave has addressed the need for Islamic guidance. If you have Muslim teenage daughters this is a must have for your bookshelf. Find this book on Amazon.com
10. Surviving Marriage In The 21st Century by Rufus and Jenny Triplett. Brother Rufus and sister Jenny are multi-talented entrepreneurs, motivational speakers, radio personalities, reality television stars, and Ebony Magazine's Couple of the Year for 2012. They hustle hard, but more importantly they are champions of marriage in the Muslim community. Find this important book on Amazon.com or on their site.
11. Soul On Islam by Ahmed Maceo Eldridge Cleaver. The journey of how the son of social justice leaders: Eldridge and Kathleen Cleaver from the Black Panthers Party found his way to Islam, is a memoir that shouldn't be missed. Brother Ahmed writes easily about his life, lessons, and convictions. This is one of those deeply hidden gems on Amazon! Find it and share it with a friend or two.
12. Traditional Muslim Homemaker: Thoughts of a Domestic Darling by Ameera and Idris Rahim. This is a great motivational book for Muslim women (and men) to get tips on home making, recipes, and reassurance that our trials in our homes, while challenging, are full of benefit for us in this life and enshallah, the hereafter as well. Ameera is active on Facebook and also a prolific writer for different Muslim magazines. Grab the book.
13. The Muslim Family Guide to Successful Homeschooling by Jamila Alqarnain. One half of the publishing house Noon Publications and the upcoming Islamic Phonics Readers Series, Alqarnain is a sister to watch. This homeschooling guide is for the novice and the seasoned homeschooler alike. If you are thinking about homeschooling, you don't have to go alone. Pick up a copy of this book.
14. A Black Man's Guide to Law Enforcement in America by Shafiq R.F. Abdussabur. Brother Shafiq, a law enforcement offer of 19 years, has compiled his knowledge to help other black men in America to stay safe during their encounters with law enforcement. This is a timely book and a wealth of knowledge for men and women of any color to have access to.
15. Mistress of The Spices by Papatia Feauxzar. Sister Papatia has put out several short stories in the last year in several different genres. This book is a Muslim romance short story and is for mature audiences only. Don't get skurred, now! Feauxzar keeps her Islamic boundaries while weaving through romance, Muslim style. Check her out on her site
16. She Wore Red Trainers by Na'ima B. Robert. Na'ima is a sister of many talents. Mother, poet, author and the founding editor of the UK based SISTERS magazine and multicultural literature. She Wore Red Trainers is Na'ima's first "halal romance" for Muslim readers. Her prose is smooth, poetic at times and fast moving and will make some of us reminisce of yesteryears. If you read "From My Sisters Lips", give this new novel a try.
17. Going to Mecca by Na'ima B. Robert. I had to do a back to back for my sister on the list. Na'ima also writes Muslim children's books and this is one is sweetly crafted, beautifully illustrated, and a must have for Muslim children, enshallah.
18. 0 TO 100 Tips For Educating Your Teen Age Muslim Boy: Steering your prince to educational success by M.A. Belgrave. I know you were probably wondering if Brother Belgrave had some tips for your boys and Alhamduleelah he absolutely does! He even has some books filled with advice for younger children as well. Find his whole collection on Amazon.com, enshallah.
19. The Shoulders on Which I Stand by Karimah Grayson. Karima is new Muslim fiction author with a bright future, enshallah. The stories that she weaves together are realistic narratives from voices that are not often given attention. If you enjoy fast paced, realistic and urban stories, grab up this book! Find Karimah's books on Amazon.com
20. Jihad of the Soul by Zarinah El-Amin Naeem. We all have a couple of single, fabulous, Muslim friends that we can't figure out why they are not married. Sister Zarinah dives into the issue in this book and mixes research with anecdotes to peel back and reveal some of the challenges and strategies that single American Muslims can aide themselves with on their search for marriage.
21. An Unproductive Woman by Khaalidah Muhammad-Ali. Sister Khaalidah is an oncology nurse, mother, and wife and a polished and compelling Muslim fiction author. Her first novel commands your attention and offers plenty of twists and turns to keep your reading throughout the night.
22. Dowry Divas by Zara J Chicklit for Muslim women? Sure, Zara J. does that really well. Dowry Diva is well crafted story about three colorful and entertaining Muslim women looking for marriage and their very own happily ever afters.
23. What We Learned Along The Way by Nadirah Angail. Nadirah is author, blogger, mother, and wife. In her first novel she takes us on a journey of Muslim sisterhood, love, life lessons, and growth. You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.
24. Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking Towards The Third Resurrection by Dr. Sherman A. Jackson. Historian and University of Michigan professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies, Dr. Jackson examines and analyzes different Blackamerican Muslim communities and growing adherence to Islam in the Black American community. While this book Islam and the Blackamerican is certainly an academic read, it is engaging and though provoking.
25. Dar-Ul-Islam: Principle, Praxis, Movement by Dr. Kamal Hassan Ali. Westfield State University Professor of Ethnic and Gender Studies, a founding member of the Islamic Society of Western Massachusetts and well known and appreciated community worker in my home city. His seminal work is part reflective of his participation in the largest to date indigenous effort to support the religious and social remedies of Islam in American, part examination of those efforts, and part historical. Without a doubt this is a book that should have a spot on your bookshelf. Find it on Amazon.
26. Her Justice by Nasheed Jaxson. Is it chicklit or brolit? It doesn't really matter because Nasheed Jaxson is a brother who knows how to knit a tight plot, captivate his readers, and make his mark within Muslim Fiction. Jaxson's first novel is fast paced, thought provoking, and entertaining. Find him on Amazon.
27. Real Muslim Wives of Philly by Elle Muslimah. Urban Islamic fiction that tackles a lot of taboos in the Muslim community that many of us have knowledge of, but very rarely discuss. Until now! Elle writes like an old pro in her first novel. She drives smoothly between different but uniquely crafted characters and plots. If you like a little grit in your tales, Find her on Amazon.
28. Like Glue: The Little Book of Marriage Advice We Should Have Stuck to From the Beginning by Dr. Halim Naeem and Zarinah El Amin Naeem. Yes, first sister Zarinah presented us with some advice on single-hood. In this little book, she came back with her husband, Dr. Halim Naeem, and they are encouraging married folks to build love, respect, and fun in your marriage and to stick together "Like Glue".
29. Khadijah's Life in Motion: Real Muslimah NJ the Series by Jatasha Sharif. Another Urban Islamic Fiction classic that should not be forgotten. Sister Jatasha introductory novel takes you on a journey that is familiar to many Muslim women who have reverted to Islam and find out that must grow in their deen. Entertainment, reflections, and Islamic education wrapped in one. Find Jatasha's book on Amazon and Smashwords.
30. Ngozi's Little Brown Princess Tea Party by Asiyah Muhsin-Thomas and Salaam Waajid Thomas. Fresh off the presses comes Ngozi by first time authors Asiyah and her husband Salaam. A story of self-love, nutrition, family, and self-esteem, Ngozi is set to make it onto your children's night time favorite reads. Find the new book on Amazon.
Do you mind a couple of bonuses? Great! All right, let's keep it moving:
#1 Woven Orbits Theater by Mahasin D. Shamsid-Deen. Sister Mahasin is the former director of the Islamic Writers Alliance, a poet, and playwright. Through Woven Orbits Theater she has brought to the stage Islamic performance art and dawah. Past productions have included Call to Humanity, The Truth is Clear and Evident, and One God: The True Memoirs of Bilal ibn Rabah.
#2. American Muslim Women:Negotiating Race, Class, and Gender in the Ummah by Jamillah Karim. Jamillah's ethnographic study of African American and South Asian immigrant Muslim women in Atlanta and Chicago explores how Muslim women from two of the largest groups of Muslim women in the United States handle their complexities and tensions within the ummah.
#3 Hind's Hands ~ A Story About Autism by Umm Juwayriyah and Juwayriyah Ayed. This story is near and dear to our hearts because it's about awareness, diversity, and acceptance of Allah's trials for us. Hind's Hands is for every Muslim family dealing with a family member with special needs.
#4 The Princess and the Good Deed by Umm Juwayriyah and Juwayriyah Ayed. Juwayriyah and I believe that every Muslim girl is born a princess and that the best princesses are those with good behavior and character. In this Islamic fairy tale Juwayriyah and I teach Muslim youth about animal rights in Islam, charity, and good character.
#5 The Size of a Mustard Seed by Umm Juwayriyah. It's the first Urban Islamic Fiction that follows the trials of Jameelah Salih, a modern Muslimah living in the inner-city in a post 9/11 world, looking for love, stability, anger management, and peace.
Enshallah, I intend for this to be a developing document. If you didn't see one of your favorite reads by a Black Muslim Author, please send me an email. I'd be happy to add it to the list.