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Saturday, December 24, 2016

The BIG End of the Year Book List: Islamic Fiction Edition




Here we are with just a couple of days left in 2016 and it's certainly a time for reflection. New lives were birthed, many lives sadly were also lost and returned back to their Creator. Through it all we prayed, fought through fear, created new loves, was inspired by people, travels, and good stories. I know I was! This was a dope year for Muslim authors and Islamic fiction, y'all. There were so many good books released - I'm talking instant classics! And there were lots of brand spanking new authors that  jumped into the canon to claim their right to share their stories. My Kindle is still stuffed because I bought more books than I could read. Now, I know that probably sounds bad, but I assure you,  I was working on my own writing. 2016 was very productive for me as well. Alhamduleelah, I finished writing three books and put a serious dent into a fourth book during NaNoWriMo. But we'll talk about alladat, enshallah, in 2017.

Back to these Islamic Fiction books by our fab Muslim Authors. Too often Muslims and non-Muslims alike can't find our literature and prose. We talked about this last year and unfortunately, it hasn't really changed this year. So these lists are really important not only for readers, but also for schools, colleges, and media to see the representation of Muslims in the arts. That said, it's really important that if you read this blog, hit the share button and send it to everybody. It's about sadaqah (charity), it's about representation, it's about liberation and it's bigger than all of us. 

Without further ado, it's The BIG End of the Year Book List: Islamic Fiction 2016 Edition + a few extra goodies. 

1. The White Elephant by Aishah Adams - New author, Aishah Adams, serves up a great story. In an age where divorce is rife and couples are frustrated and miserable, marital issues can no longer be swept aside. Just as an elephant in a room signifies an obvious problem that isn’t being addressed, Aishah Adams sheds light on marital matters which communities across the world would rather not talk about. 


2. Behind Picket Fences by Hend Hegazi. My home state sister does it again. I know it's that Massachusetts air, but truly sis. Hend can tell a story! This is one of those instant classics and enough feel good twists and turns to keep you turning the pages hoping for the best outcome. I would love to write the screenplay for this one, enshallah. Grab this book for a vacay read. "Behind Picket Fences is a fast moving, intricately weaved, and timely story about every day people navigating the realities of life. Author Hend Hegazi has crafted a story that is sure to entertain and make her readers reflect as well." - Umm Juwayriyah, author
   
3.It's Ramadan, Curious George by Hena Khan and H.A.Rey It's Curious George, so you couldn't go wrong here! We all grew up reading about the curious, sweet monkey get in and out of trouble! Throw Ramadan in the mix and his Muslim friend Kareem and you've got a winner.











4. Owl & Cat Ramadan Is...by Emma Apple. Speaking of winners, everything my sister paints, draws, and writes sings victory (mashallah)! This sweet story follows Owl & Cat, and "their family and friends as they celebrate the 30 days of the Islamic month of fasting. They learn that Ramadan is about patience, prayer, kindness and many wonderful traditions!"









5. Cinderella: An Islamic Tale by Fawzia Gilani Sis. Fawzia is a prolific children's writer. Even though she grinds hard, don't think for a second these new fairy tale books don't make the cut. "In this version we follow the trials and tribulations of the sweet, gentle, and pious Zahra when her parents die and she is left at the mercy of an uncaring stepmother and stepsisters. This is a well-crafted Islamic version of the classic tale in which faith, goodness, and prayer are rewarded in the end. The charming, richly detailed illustrations of Shireen Adams, set in medieval Andalusia, help bring the text to life."


6. His Other Wife by Umm Zakiyyah. She needs no introduction as she is prolific novelist and her stories are well loved,  alhamduleelah! You may have started reading this new 2016 book in her online group, but if you haven't read it in it's entirety yet - what  are you waiting for? Sisters, brothers, marriage guardians, and Imams talk about this ting in Islam called polygyny much, but how does it actually go down in the West? "Jacob and Deanna are a power couple. Aliyah is Deanna's best friend...whom Jacob wants to marry." Find out!







7. Nothing But Love: Is This Love Worth Fighting For? By Zaneefa Zaneer.  Sis. Zaneefa is another *new author* and her fave genre is romance! So decided to flip the script and spice up Islamic Fiction with a little love - halal style. If you haven't read any Islamic romance novels yet, Nothing But Love is good starting place. "Barakah has survived the unthinkable, but unresolved feelings of hurt and anger still plague her. And her trouble is far from finished when her friend's last will threatens to complicate her destiny further."





8.Destiny by Amina N.  Georgia, Stand up! Senegal, stand on up! Sister Amina is here for you and is a new author after my own heart! Destiny easily fits in the Islamic fiction category while still owning a strong narrative. This is a quick read and would be great for book clubs. And shout out to sis. Hend Hegazi for the editing.










9. The Broken Half by Sahar Abdulaziz This sister can write both children's books and deep, dark novels. If you are looking for contemporary women fiction with a slice of Muslim voices throw into the mix, The Broken Half will not disappoint you! " The Broken Half, is the harrowing story of a young American Muslim woman, Zahra, whose marriage has been anything but peaceful. Faced with the difficult and dangerous choice to either stay in her abusive marriage or leave, Zahra soon realizes each step she takes towards freedom is riddled with risky and uncertain repercussions."






10. Bismillah Soup by Asmaa Hussein. My kids love this book. I love this book. The story, the illustrations -- the story! I am so proud of Asmaa for this book. I am happy that my son loves to read it over and over again, each and every single night because he sees himself in the characters.  This is the caliber of story-telling that Muslim children deserve! Buy it for your kids or buy for yourself. Either way, you'll be happy you did. "A spinoff of the classic Stone Soup folktale, Bismillah Soup is a story about Hasan, a young Somali boy who ventures out to prepare a delicious feast for his mother. With a little bit of elbow grease, a lot of trust in God and the help of his friends and neighbours, Hasan quickly turns his idea into a magnificent plan and gathers the entire community together for a spectacular feast at the local mosque. Hasan's journey is full of unexpected twists and turns that lead him down a path of discovering what community, generosity and reliance on God truly mean."

11. Princess Diversity and the Golden Rule by Gulmakai Saleh. Sis. Gulmakai takes a spin on the golden rule and weaves a story that addresses bullying and diversity for a home run! Shout out to the talented Ms. Kat Phillips for the beautiful illustrations. Princess Diversity is great read-aloud book and  should be in every library and public and private school. Recommend you local libraries carry it or donate it to your favorite library or school today. 







12. Jannah Jewels Book 9: Surprise in Syria by Tayyeba Syed and Umm Nura. JJ is the chapter book series for bright, curious, fun, and adventurous Muslim girls! In book 9 the authors bring us to our beloved Syria in the Aleppo before the war. Readers get to read about what the city was like before the bombs when light, knowledge, kindness, and faith still reigned all while helping to solve a mystery. JJ is good reading and sets the bar high for tween Islamic fiction. 



13. Ayesha Dean - The Istanbul Intrigue by Melati Lum. We see you, Australia! Come on through and welcome your sis. Melati and her new tween fiction series. A criminal lawyer and mother, Melati's attention to detail and strong characterizations  will have fun with Ayesha Dean! "  Ayesha and her friends Sara and Jess jump at the chance of accompanying Ayesha's uncle on a trip from Australia to Istanbul. But when Ayesha discovers a mysterious note as a result of visiting an old bookshop, their relaxing holiday starts to get a whole lot more complicated!"






14. Spin - Off Cite: A Collection of Flash Fiction by Papatia Feauxzar Papatia is a hard working sister determined to hem the game up! From Islamic romance stories to tween fiction, she has a story to grab you in. So it is fantastic and super cool for her to put out Spin - Off Cite for her readers to taste a little bit of each one of her stories and spices. 









15. Hector Hectricity and the Missing Socks by Elizabeth Lymer.  If your kids love fun, silly, adventurous stories, this is book is a must have! Sis. Elizabeth is multi-talented. She writes poetry, rhymes, songs, and storybooks that all inclusive and yet still diverse, and that breaks down Islam for our children. Hector Hectricity and the Missing Socks, " A fun story for young children that shows how praying to Allah SWT, asking for help from others, and taking a good walk outdoors can help to overcome a sock monster." Make sure you request it at your local libraries and your favorite brick and mortar book store.




16. Mia Power: Helping The Soup Kitchen by Tauheedah Stephens.  I was in a writer's group with Tauheedah Stephens and didn't even know it. I stumbled upon some older books of hers and rushed to purchase them. A quick search for information on her brought me right back to my writer's group. Stehphens is carving out a really nice path for herself. Her style of writing is really fun. It's very reminiscence of Herman Parish and Lynne Avril's Amelia Bedelia series. The Mia crew will have your children giggling and learn a valuable lesson as well. Enshallah, we will get an interview with sis. Tauheedah in 2017.






17. Drummer Girl by Hiba Masood. One of the first children's books by Day Break Press and  the first release from sis. Hina Masood. Drummer Girl is "[t]he tale of a unique dream and the family that helped make it come true." Hina has crafted a beautifully simple bedtime story! Right now this book is only available from Day Break Press, but I am told that enshallah, it will be available on Amazon.com in 2017.




18. I'm So Angry by Sarah Javed. Another first time author author, Sister Sarah has been homeschooling blogger for some time. I'm So Angry addresses a common  issues that all parents deal: temper tantrums in our our little ones. Sis. Sarah has crafted a sweet story from an Islamic perspective and it would be a great resource in Muslim daycare centers, homeschooling families, and for read-alouds. 





19. Adam to Zamzam by Kareemah Alhark and Jamilah Alqarnain. This is another one of my son's favorite books to look through on his own before he drifts to sleep. It's bright and has lots of familiar word that helps Muslims preschoolers on the their way to reading. If you have preschoolers or work in a daycare center with Muslim children, Adam to Zamzam is a must have. 








20. The Shoulders On Which I Stand by Karimah Grayson. This is Muslim/Islamic Fiction and sis. Karimah does it well. Grayson tackles the education system, marital issues, and discrimination in this fast past novel. For avid reader looking for fast paced, engaging stories for vacation, this is one to have.  



21. No God But God: From the Streets to Salah by Jihada. Another new Muslimah author reppin' Philadelphia proudly with some urban Muslim/Islamic fiction. No God But God take you on an engaging ride as one women with many demons transforms her life from the high life of the streets to a more steady life in the masjid. This book definitely was reminiscent of Omar Tyree's Flyy Girl and Sista Souljah's Coldest Winter Ever. So if you love those classic Urban Fiction novels, Jihada is your author to watch. 








22. Ilyas and Duck in A Zakat Tale by Omer S. Khawaja. Loveable Ilyas and Duck are just a great series. Omer has done a great job creating characters that are relatable, cool, funny and able to teach morals to Muslim kids. All of the books are great for Muslim schools, Islamic Sunday schools programs, read-a-louds, and daycare centers. Enshallah, I hope to get an interview up on the blog with brother Omer in 2017- so watch out for that! 






Wait! Hold -up! I am not done yet! Extra! Extra! Read all about it!  I have a few non fiction books that I had to share on this list as well. I know everyone is not into fiction, so I hope these books hit the spot for you.

NON FICTION BOOKS


23. Muslim Cool by Su'ad Abdul Khabeer.  Dr. Su'ad's seminal work on race, faith, and Hip-Hop is an instant classic. Her ethnographic research from the lens of indigenous American Muslimah is ground breaking and is a critical need in academia. Enshallah, her work will open many doors for other indigenous American Muslims to follow.









24. Generation M: Young Muslims Changing the World by Shelina Janmohammed. Sis. Shelina dives into analyzing the new generation of young Muslims, the talents, the struggles, and their growing faith in a world that is plagued with many challenges directly facing them. Generation M comes after her success first book, Love in a Headscrarf. 







25. Bismillah and Bean Pies: How Black American Crafted An Islamic Expression  Through Nationalism  by Asad El Malik. "Although its genesis is in the Nation of Islam, the bean pie has grown to be a part of every African American Islamic expression. It, more than any other item, symbolizes the unique Muslim culture developed by blacks in America. The bean pie in many ways mirrors Islam in black America. Both find their roots in black nationalism and are a deviation from the overarching black culture in the United States."


26. Random Lamentations, Protest Chants, and Affirmations: Selected Works from a Blackfemale/Muslim female. I grew up listening to lectures by this cherished elder sister. Sis. Islaah is an educator, a community organizer, a leader, a historian, and a poet who was gifted with the ability to draw you in. This book was a long time in the making. 40 years in the making actually and digs deep into the intricacies and nuances that the urban Muslim woman, specifically, the Black Muslim woman has had to learn live with, carry, and build on to resist and persist in faith. This is an instant classic and is an excellent resource for colleges, universities and those in academia interested in studying the history of the lives of Muslim women in America. 



27. Beneficial Herbs for Believing Women by Ameera Rahim and Ameer Rahim

 A new release from the dynamic duo that includes Tradional Homemaker,  master herbalist, and Habeebee Homeschooling advocates Ameera and Ameer Rahim. It is such an honor to add this book by these two, but unfortunately it is posthumous award for our dear brother Ameer Rahim, who passed away last week. We ask that the Most Merciful rewards him for his good and accepts him into paradise without reckoning. Beneficial Herbs for Believing Women is a resourceful book that every home should have on their bookshelves. 
If you would like to support Ameera, a mother of seven, in her recovery from her husband's death, please use the family's Go Fund Me page.



All right! That's it folks. Alhamduleelah, I am proud of every author on this list. As I stated before, 2016 was a dope year for Muslim authors. Enshallah, 2017 will be even better. If you're a Muslim author planning on releasing new material in 2017 and would like to be interviewed for the blog or have your Islamic fiction or non fiction book reviewed, please email me: ummjuwayriyah@gmail.com