Assalamu aleikum Brother Nasheed. Welcome to Hayati Magazine. I’m trying something new which is getting out of my comfort zone but still observing halal boundaries pertaining to non-mahram rules. And thank you to your wife for not seeing a problem with this interview. So here we go!
Papatia: I thought that your female voice in your novel Her Justice was on point. Did you anticipate such a success for your novel amongst women readers? In other words, are women your target audience?
Nasheed: Walaikum Assalam Sister. I am very grateful for you having me.
Yes, women are my target audience because most men don’t or won’t admit to reading novels. It is a real treat for a man to say they couldn’t put the book down once they started reading it, especially from the elders. Additionally, I didn’t anticipate the women readers’ responses about my insight into the mind and feelings of a woman. A sister told me If she didn’t know me personally she would think the book was written by someone other than a man (I don’t know how to take that lol). I thank Allah that both men and women enjoy, Her Justice.
Papatia: Funny sister indeed!
Papatia: How and when did you envision a career in writing?
Nasheed: I have always been a writer, just different forms at different times in my life. I told a childhood friend whom I went to elementary school with that I wrote a book. He said, “You’re still doing what you love to do. You’ve always been a writer. You used to write poems and raps in school.”
For a huge part of my life I wrote and performed spoken word = poetry. I love how a combination of words can convey what’s in my heart and touch yours at the same time. Secondly, I’m one of those men who’s not afraid to admit their passion for novels. So when I read a few of my favorite books I said, “I can do this!”
Papatia: Good for you! Masha’Allah, as writers we need to be doers!
Papatia: Why did the Idea of Audria come into play? No question that there are many like her out there. Any personal reasons behind the creation of that character?
Good question. The story I originally submitted to the publisher ended up not being used. However, the protagonist of that story, Justice, was liked so much by the publisher they told me to build a story around him. So I started thinking how can I test a God fearing, handsome, and understanding therapist with women patients? Then Audria was born (I have a recording of when my first thought of her first flooded my heart and brain.) I was at work, and pulled out my phone to record). LOL! I pray that me or any other brother that fears Allah that they never encounter the likes of Audria Cox. Although, I like her; she’s just misunderstood. Haha!
Papatia: That’s awesome, when inspiration hits, you have to make note of it. I like Audria Cox too. She makes a good villain, therefore a great read.
Papatia: I consider you a romance writer. Any plans to write for brothers to educate and entertain them on erotology?
Nasheed: Me, a romance writer? That’s the biggest surprise of my journey as an author. I didn’t set out to target a specific gender, so I’m humbled that you and other women can get romance from those pages.
Papatia, I say all the time ‘we have the best example in The Prophet Muhammed (pbuh)’ so why can’t us men follow his example when it comes to our wives. He was a romantic and his wives loved him. But to answer your question, yes I do plan to educate in an entertaining way on how we can be better husbands and cut back on the divorce rate. The plan is to use the four Caliphas to represent the different characters we have as men.
For example: Abu Bakr was compassionate when Umar was known to be more of a brute in nature. They would react differently to the same situation. Also, I would like to make men understand the language of women. We tend to expect her response to be that of a man. When her answers or actions don’t match what we anticipated, there’s an argument. As a result, too many arguments may lead to divorce.
Papatia: I agree, men and women don’t speak the same language in a marriage and it creates issues. It takes patience and forgiving spouses to make it work.
Papatia: Who are your favorite authors and how did they help you in writing Her Justice?
Nasheed: When I first started reading novels I was reading a lot of Urban Fiction and found myself really enjoying books written by Eric Jerome Dickey. It was one of his books that gave me the idea that I can be an author. Thinking of a story and forming a plot seemed so easy. But what I didn’t know is the hard work that goes into creating a novel. Like EJ Dickey, I could not write a novel that didn’t have some kind of a love story. But what I wanted to try was crime and suspense like Iris Johansen, another author I enjoy reading. While I was writing Her Justice I read a novel by Johansen and one by John Grisham, The Client. Their words helped me develop my own flow.
Papatia: Well done brother. Well done masha’Allah. I like John Grisham as well. I’ll have to read the other two writers insha’Allah.
Papatia: What advice would you give to other Muslim romance writers about what is permissible in our writing?
Nasheed: LOL! Sorry to laugh, but I am clueless on what’s permissible. If it wasn’t for my publisher there would have been more profanity and at least one more love making scene. It was toned down and I didn’t know until days before the release date. I like to push the envelope a little, but the publisher assured me it was best, so I submitted (I had no choice). Oh, the advice is- if you like to push the envelope like I do, get a publisher. Lol!
Papatia: Oh, I like to push the envelope! Check out my latest Oblivion. Haha! I’m slowly working on going traditional. Keep me in your prayers, ameen.
Papatia: Being a romance writer myself, I’ve considered screenplay. That said, I think for romance the line needs to be drawn at writing sultry fiction. Now, that can be called zina of the eyes. I know, a perfectly bidat coined word in my opinion. Nonetheless, it gets the point across. Do you think screenplay will be an area that future Muslims will tap into for romance? I mean there is the issue of awrat and having actors do the ‘dirty job’. Then again, let’s be realistic, many of us watch sexy movies (not rated X…just to clarify) occasionally with our spouses.
Nasheed: The reason I didn’t groom or faison myself after EJ Dickey is because as a Muslim, my mission is different. If I’m going to write love, crime and suspense stories, they should not only be entertaining, but should give subtle dawah to those who aren’t Muslim. But like I stated earlier everyone doesn’t read but they will watch a show or movie. Writing scripts has to be our near future goal. The film industry is thirsty for new ideas and new angles. We have some of the best stories that have never been told. Like anything else, in the beginning there will be those who will say you can’t do that, that’s wrong or it’s bidat. But we continue to pray and ask Allah to guide us. Yes, you’re right. Why not be realistic and be entertained with halal love?
Papatia: Subtle dawah is the key! And to finish, halal love for the future of ground breaking Muslim movies insha’Allah.
You can follow Nasheed on Facebook at his page Nasheed JaXson Author or at Nasheed JaXson which is his fan page. Finally, you can follow him at N_jaxson on Instagram.
Jazak’Allah khair for reading and houb salam (peace and love).
Originally published at Hayatimagazine.com