Whether or not you’re fasting this Ramadan, consider this an opportunity to explore unfamiliar worlds. Pick up a book by one of these talented Muslim writers who’ve been making a serious mark literary world. They’re writing memoirs and science fiction, graphic novels and poetry — anything you feel like reading, really.
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon. But Juliette has plans of her own. After a lifetime without freedom, she’s finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time—and to find a future with the one boy she thought she’d lost forever. In this electrifying debut, Tahereh Mafi presents a riveting dystopian world, a thrilling superhero story, and an unforgettable heroine.
Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson
In an unnamed Middle Eastern security state, a young Arab-Indian hacker shields his clients—dissidents, outlaws, Islamists, and other watched groups—from surveillance and tries to stay out of trouble. He goes by Alif—the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, and a convenient handle to hide behind. The aristocratic woman Alif loves has jilted him for a prince chosen by her parents, and his computer has just been breached by the state’s electronic security force, putting his clients and his own neck on the line.
Then it turns out his lover’s new fiancé is the “Hand of God,” as they call the head of state security, and his henchmen come after Alif, driving him underground. When Alif discovers The Thousand and One Days, the secret book of the jinn, which both he and the Hand suspect may unleash a new level of information technology, the stakes are raised and Alif must struggle for life or death, aided by forces seen and unseen. With shades of Neal Stephenson, Philip Pullman, and The Thousand and One Nights, Alif the Unseen is a tour de force debut—a sophisticated melting pot of ideas, philosophy, technology, and spirituality smuggled inside an irresistible page-turner.
Where the Ghost Camel Grins: Muslim Fables for Families of All Faith by Linda “Ilham” Bart
Based on ancient legends and written with interfaith sensitivity, this collection of new and original Muslim fables sparkles with inspiration, adventure, humor, and even romance. Qur’anic scriptures and Biblical references solidify the spiritual truths of these lively tales, which teach universal values such as patience, morals, ethics, and courtesy.
Muslim readers find their own beliefs clarified and reinforced, while those of another (or of no organized) faith learn something about Islam in a gentle, non-proselytizing manner. Christian and Jewish readers experience their faiths not as entities separate from Islam, but as integral parts of the great circle encompassed by the Islamic ideal of universal peace. All readers discover that, although the stories are set in times and places far different from our own, the messages are still relevant in today’s world. With its inspiring text and 46 vibrant watercolor illustrations, Where the Ghost Camel Grins is a spiritual treasure for all faiths and ages.
The Moor’s Account by Laila Lalami
In this stunning work of historical fiction, Laila Lalami brings us the imagined memoirs of the first black explorer of America—a Moroccan slave whose testimony was left out of the official record. In 1527, the conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez sailed from the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda with a crew of six hundred men and nearly a hundred horses. His goal was to claim what is now the Gulf Coast of the United States for the Spanish crown and, in the process, become as wealthy and famous as Hernán Cortés.
But from the moment the Narváez expedition landed in Florida, it faced peril—navigational errors, disease, starvation, as well as resistance from indigenous tribes. Within a year there were only four survivors: the expedition’s treasurer, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca; a Spanish nobleman named Alonso del Castillo Maldonado; a young explorer named Andrés Dorantes de Carranza; and Dorantes’s Moroccan slave, Mustafa al-Zamori, whom the three Spaniards called Estebanico. These four survivors would go on to make a journey across America that would transform them from proud conquis-tadores to humble servants, from fearful outcasts to faith healers.
Sultana’s Dream by Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain
Muslim feminist and social reformer Rokeya Hossain brings us the riveting tale of young girl Sultana who awakes in Ladyland where men are confined indoors and women have taken over the public sphere, ending a war nonviolently and restoring health and beauty to the world. This witty story, in which science fiction meets feminism, will have you smiling at the Hossain’s gorgeous subtle writing and repeating the words of her husband, “A splendid revenge!”