I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of the Amazing Muslims Who Changed the World blog tour today, not only is it awesome to be able to promote such a rich book about Muslim excellence – it’s pretty cool seeing a book like this getting published and getting attention! Before I delve into the substantive part of my contribution, I wanted to first tell you to go check out all of the already posted and upcoming content on the tour – I’ve loved getting to see everyone’s homage to this book.
Secondly, I wanted to introduce my post a little bit!
When it came to picking a topic to talk about for my tour stop, I couldn’t separate myself from the book community. From the bloggers and authors I’ve recently come to know. Amazing Muslims Who Changed the World is filled with dozens of people who I could talk about (and who deserve to be talked about!) to no end. But I simply found myself wanting to write about this group of people who may not have changed the world – yet – but have very much been a part of changing mine, in some way or another. It is only recently that I’ve felt like I’ve been living as my most authentic self and my relationship to my culture and faith has been a big part of that. It’s something that I felt like I couldn’t explore with my peers, but it could be explored through literature. And by extension, through the book community.
This post barely scratches the surface of the Muslim authors and Muslim creators that are a vital part of our community but there were a few books and people in particular I wanted to recognise and put in the spotlight – while also addressing why Muslim representation is important to me as a reader.
It’s become starkly obvious to me how important having varied and prevalent Muslim representation in the fiction I was reading as a child, tween, teen, young adult and even now as an adult. Amongst this fantastic push for diverse fiction, it’s seems juvenile to make the statement that Muslim representation was severely lacking – and it still is but like most things, it’s getting better. The reason I bring this up is that because for me, as someone who never felt like I was enough for either half of my culture or heritage – I never actively sought, or thought I needed to see those experiences, my experiences, represented in fiction. It is only now that there are more titles and more recognition of those titles – that I’m reading more Muslim representation that I realise how much I needed it. How much it means to see it. To feel that kinship between yourself and a character or set of characters, and the author. It’s a priceless experience.
These books are all fantastic in their own right, as are their authors, and I’ve spoken about most of them before so instead of talking about each book individually, I wanted to address what these books did right – why their books are important to me, why I address them here. I haven’t discussed my biraciality, or the way I grew up in a multi-faith household on my blog before – I rarely mention it. So, let’s get a little personal. Everyone practices Islam in their own way, and some don’t – like me, I am a non-practicing Muslim, for the most part. I don’t relate to all the Muslim representation out there, just as not every Muslim with relate to the Muslim representation that I enjoy. Which is why, when I find a book filled with Muslim representation that I can relate to, despite all those nuanced barriers, it’s pretty amazing.
That’s what each of these books have done. They are filled with both cultural and religious representation that doesn’t make me feel like less than or too far removed. Particularly with The Henna Wars, which addresses the intersectionality of being queer and Muslim, this book will forever hold a place in my heart for doing that. Not only that but Jaigirdar, I feel, perfectly emulates the odd wistfulness that children of immigrants have. The what if, the what could have been – what traditions would we have had, who would I have been. As someone who has been learning more about my heritage and culture, I relate to this – hard.
I also wanted to provide a space to talk about some Muslim bloggers who I love, who I think deserve the entire world because of the hard work they do.
The first person I wanted to tell you about is Fadwa from Word Wonders, in particular I want to direct you to her guest post on The Quiet Pond because it’s close to my heart. I am Muslim, I am Queer and Not a Contradiction is a brave – beyond brave, it’s something I have yet to find the words let alone the courage to do – piece of writing that not only made me feel seen as a queer Muslim but it made me feel validated. Through sharing her journey, her experiences and her unapologetic love of herself and our faith – it was the first time for me personally, that another Muslim had essentially turned to me and said “this is us, this who we are, no one can take that away from us.”
As someone who loved reading fantasy, trying to find ownvoices Muslim representation in that genre is something that is difficult. It’s a simple fact that a lot of fantasy books which have Muslim representation, are set in the fantasy equivalent of the Middle East or North Africa, are written by people who are not Muslim and very often are not from that part of the world. Welcome, Umairah from Sereadipity onto the scene. Umairah created the A Thousand Nights book club, which specifically looks at reading SFF by Muslim authors.
Neelam from The Tsundoku Chronicles was the first Muslim blogger I came across who not only was very vocal about it but actively spoke about and created content that wasn’t just limited to books, made content about Islam and about Muslims – creating a space for them. It would be remiss of me not to address the plethora of content Neelam has created with regard to the Daevbad trilogy by S.A. Chakraborty. She prises this trilogy for it’s Muslim representation and exemplifies it – while this is a trilogy that I have yet to read, I have no doubt that the Muslim representation will be fantastic because of Neelam’s content.
As I mentioned earlier, I don’t want this post to grow anymore than it already has so I shall leave you with a few other Muslim bloggers to follow! And I do hope that Muslim or not, this post introduced you to authors and creators you may not be aware of. This is the most personal I’ve gotten in a post and it certainly isn’t exhaustive of all my thoughts but I felt like this was a good start; I admit as this post sits in my drafts, the familiar anxiety of not being Muslim enough arises – I wanted to combat that directly but being a part of this tour by stating clearly that I am Muslim. It is ingrained in my identity and to be able to claim it is a privilege I didn’t think I could have.