Interviewer: Papatia Feauxzar at Fofky’s
Interviewee: Umm Afraz Muhammed
Here With You– An Interview with the Author
Umm Afraz has authored several short books on self-help but today she is at our bookstore to discuss her debut novel Here With You so she can give us some insights on her unique novel masha’Allah. Assalamu aleikum Umm Afraz, welcome to Fofky’s.
Q1 – Can you please give us some insights on the title of your book? Like why Here With You versus something more mothers-in-law related? It’s a romance story so I have some theories but I would love to hear from the mastermind herself.
A1 – Wa alaykumussalaam wa rahmatullahi wa barakaatuh Papatia. Jazakillahu khayran for having me on your blog . It is truly an honor <3. Okay, so I wanted to have a title that had an emotional connection – not only for the characters, but also for the audience. The phrase “here with you” could be understood in a romantic, platonic, parental love, or spiritual sense. It all depends on the context with which it is used.
Q2 – I liked how you portrayed the mother-in-law; she is not a bad person but there was discrepancy between her firm devotion in worship and her application of Islamic or courtesy sunnah manners towards her daughter-in-law. It portrays that many people with whom we don’t agree aren’t necessarily evil but simply imperfect Muslims. I found it relatable and realistic. Did you find emotionally easy or hard to pen her character based on your experience in marriage or scenarios you’ve witnessed in real life from people around you?
A2 – You are bang on! That was exactly how I wanted to portray Fatima. She is just like everyone else – trying to practice Islam whilst struggling with her humanly flaws – an imperfect Muslim. I think that is why she was fairly easy to characterize. She is someone we could all relate to.
Q3 – Aunties everywhere are inappropriate and especially during nikahrelated events where their intimacy innuendos are often raunchy. Have you ever witnessed them to relent? Now, it’s safe to say that sometimes they relay valuable info to the bride to take to the bedroom at times. And poor brides like Salma are usually left to their verbal claws. Do you think such customs should stop or do you think Aunties should carry on because it makes nikahrelated events fun?
A3 – You know, when you think back, it seems funny. But when you are in that spot, undergoing that experience or even when you are in the environment listening to the comments and innuendos, it gets uncomfortable. I believe there should be a balance in joking. It is possible to make a joke while maintaining the dignity of the couple. And if there is any information to be given, it should be done in private. Wa Allahu Alam.
Q4 – Financial security, which is necessary as Islam is about the middle path, pushes many of our parents to steer us towards STEM fields. It has advantages and Disadvantages. Faisal was conflicted with such decisions made for him by his parents. I believe in getting a degree that will support your true passion later. But do you think that one can live off unpredictable art revenues without getting a formal education which can be a safety net?
A5 – We were raised to believe only STEM fields generate income, and arts/humanities field don’t produce as much. I agree a formal education would give the CV a boost, but I also believe that with the way the modern-world is proceeding, as long as you have the passion and you invest your time and efforts in it by continuous learning, and practicing what you are good at, you will earn enough. After all, rizq comes from Allah, and what is meant for you will never leave you unless Allah Wills it. In the end, it is all about practicing yourself and trusting Allah. What are your thoughts?
Papatia Feauxzar : I agree. At the end of the day, it’s about rizq. Masha’Allah.
Q5 – Do you have any questions for me about your book?
A5 – I would love to know what you thought about the story, the writing style, and any critical feedback that you have. Also, what is one scene that you felt closely connected to, and why?
Papatia Feauxzar : The writing style fits the genre of this book; smooth, sensual and emotional. If you had written an adventure book or sci-fi book like this, it wouldn’t have worked because these genres require fast-paced storytelling to keep the reader excited and tuned-in.
Now, I only found very few things (subjective by the way) to be unsatisfied about. For instance, I felt tremendously teased with the sultry romance of Faisal and Salma. I loved them both and the way he stood up for her when it came to his mother meddling. That was very relatable, alhamdullilah. That’s all.
Papatia Feauxzar : Umm Afraz, thank you for being with us.
Umm Afraz : Thank you Fofky’s! Much love, and God Bless <3!
Papatia Feauxzar : Aameen, likewise! Check out a review and a reading of Here With You below, thanks!
Salma, a new bride who is happily married to her husband, moves into her in-laws’ house as part of their South Indian culture. A new life, a new beginning, and a new family in a new country. Staying in a place far away from her loved ones, with no one to rely on but her husband, she undergoes the realities of life living under the same roof as her mother-in-law. How will she cope with the lifestyle changes and the daily challenges? Will her dreams of having a good relationship with her mother-in-law come true? Or will she discover the dreaded monster-in-law?
Fatima wants to be a good mother-in-law to Salma and yearns for a good relationship with her. Life and time throw opportunities her way to prove herself. Would she take the right decisions and keep her best foot forward? Or would she succumb to her ego and cultural stereotypes?
This book is about the emotional tug-of-war between a daughter-in-law and her mother-in-law. Sandwiched between the two most important women of his life is Faisal, the son of one and husband of the other.
The story revolves around the lives of these three characters and the relationships they share with each other as they learn to stick together despite the ups and downs they face as a joint family.
Review: Salma is a such a sweetheart and a good mannered Muslimah masha’Allah. You will fall in love with her way to face adversity if your faith is a balm to your spirits or if your faith soothes your fiery nature when it’s appropriate. Her mother-in-law is also a steadfast woman albeit her other flaws. Their relationship was a very relatable one and not the worst when it comes to daughter-in-law and mother-in-law drama but still it’s a very challenging one. I loved the story the minute I read a snippet of it several years ago and I’m happy to see the author’s brilliant complete penned work. Salma’s husband, Faisal, is another relatable character masha’Allah. In his plight, you will realize that Allah is the best of planners and that to make omelets, you have to break eggs.
My favorite passage as usual dealt with finance and affirmed my point of views. “We may have seemed to live a luxurious life, but rarely do people understand that the struggles we experienced were the same as that of any other middle-class family. I found it unfair that just because we lived in a posh area, we were expected to live a posh life. Relatives back home were unwilling to comprehend the fact that foreign-residents like us suffered financial issues too. It was as if money rained upon us and we were expected to distribute it to every Ahmad, Muhammed, and Abdullah they recommended. And if we refused to support them financially, relations are severed, regardless of the ties of kinship that Islam asks us to uphold sincerely. Over the years, I’ve learnt that the world runs on money, and rarely on love.”
I agree, many people think that financially secured individuals also don’t have money issues. And when financially secured individuals can’t lend them money or refuse to be unnecessarily hustled, resentment ensues as if they are entitled to these bounties they sought. As Muslims, we need to stop making plans on other people’s assets or even Allah’s bounties. We need to accept what people give freely and let go of expectations and master the notion of rizq. Nothing belong to us, even ourselves, we don’t belong to ourselves.
The novel also delves into cultural and real Islam. That was refreshing alhamdullilah. In all, Afraz’s writing is very smooth, subtle, lovely and most of all soulful and soul searching. The pace was also to my liking. I finished the book in less than a day.
I definitely recommend this book to halal romance lovers and readers of Muslim women’s contemporary fiction. Bravo!
Here With You‘s Reading by Umm Afraz Muhammed
Direct YouTube link : https://youtu.be/BuNsb2ROx4w
EBook available on Amazon here.
Paperback available on Pothi here.
Original Source: Fofky’s Blog .
The Tower -- An Interview with the Author
Shereen Malherbe’s second contemporary novel The Tower debuts this April 2019, and we’re excited to pick the author’s brain with the following interview. So let’s get to it insha’Allah.
Q1- Shereen, have you ever been to Syria and did you have to interview actual Syrians for this novel?
A1 - I haven’t ever been to Syria, but I did interview a range of people for the book. Especially refugees and migrants with experience of London like their expectations versus the reality. Interviewing helped me with my major plot points and I think that is the beauty of research. Often life is more interesting, and in this case, it was more harrowing, than fiction.
Q2 - I liked the plot of The Tower and the writing masha’Allah. It’s a very smooth novel that fits a night when you want your mind to unwind and lull a bit. So while you write this genre of books, what other types (genres) of books do you like reading?
A2 - Thank you. I think studying English Literature and making sure you read widely contributes to how smoothly you write. Dissecting books is an important part of creating your own! I have heard that what you read always contributes more to how you write, even subconsciously and I would go further to say it isn’t just what you read, it is everything you experience. And that experience can come through books. Personally, I enjoy reading different types of fiction, historical fiction, contemporary fiction and the classics.
Q3- The Tower was a bit of stranger than fiction occurrence; the attacks on Muslims in their places of worship or their residences is a reality. The greed and politics that let this happen was also exposed in your book. Do you think this will be an eye-opening experience for readers?
A3 - I hope that in some way, all reading experiences are eye opening in some ways. My editor and I discussed the way reality happened and was mirrored in a scene in my novel. I had drafted the idea over a year ago and I did debate excluding it. However, I am glad we didn’t. Often, when communities pick up on a certain environment, like in this case rising islamophobia, the consequences are often predictable and that is exactly what happened in The Tower.
Politics have played a part in this and therefore I wanted to reflect that. Although this is fiction, I believe it is important to reflect how communities are feeling and I wanted to bring some empathy, humanity and hope in an increasingly hostile world.
Q4 - Your Palestinian heritage merges with Syrian heritage in this book. Do you have any Syrian roots?
A4 - I don’t myself, but I am aware of refugees from Palestine to Syria, made refugees again after the war. In that way my heritage shares perspectives with this view of movement and shifting homelands which I wanted to explore throughout the book. I think most of us are capable of shared empathy despite where we are from and the global refugee crisis is affecting millions so we are all part of it in some way.
That is the beauty of fiction; it doesn’t matter where you are from, we all have shared experiences.
Q5 - What else do you want your readers to take away from The Tower?
A5 - It’s hard to really expect certain responses from readers so as a writer, I believe the finished novel belongs to the readers now. So, I don’t like to say what I expect readers to take from it because it will mean different things to different people. However, if I had to say something, I would hope that it offers, even in a small way, a different, positive perspective of how we can all contribute something good to the world.
Shereen, thank you for being with us.
Readers, please check out the review below of The Tower.
The Tower published by Beacon Books is the second contemporary women’s fiction novel written by Shereen Malherbe; a British Palestinian writer based in both the UK and the United Arab Emirates. Shereen Malherbe is also a writer for Muslimah Media Watch, a forum for critiquing the images of Muslim women in the media and pop culture.
Reem is a Syrian refugee who has arrived in London, trying to discover the whereabouts of her 10-year old brother, Adar. Obsessed with history and consumed by her fragmented memories of home, Reem is also hiding secrets she hopes will never be revealed. After being placed in a tower block, she befriends Leah; a single mother who has been forced to leave her expensive South Kensington townhouse. Their unlikely friendship supports them as they attempt to find their place in a relentless, heaving city, and come to terms with the homes they left behind. Both bold and timely, The Tower shows how Reem and Leah’s lives change and intersect in the wake of individual and communal tragedy, as well as in their struggle to adapt to a rapidly shifting society.
In The Tower, Malherbe explores fictionalized real events and realities such as the Grenfell tower incident, the remnants of the war in the Middle East and women's mental health like she did in her first novel Jasmine Falling .
Reem finds herself triggered by the apparition of her detractor out of nowhere. Secretly battling a possible gestation, domestic and emotional abuse, she can't help but chase her brother's ghost in London.
Reem also faces both hardship and ease while trying to communicate in English, while looking and finding a job and while carrying herself around because while some strangers might be kind to you, some won't. And a Muslim woman wearing hijab is always targeted for some nonsense.
Thus, meeting Leah and the welcoming ummah in Reem's new UK apartment building— the tower—and neighborhood brings her comfort until tragedies/blessings in disguise rip the little struggling pieces of her life she had left.
In the narrative of Leah, Malherbe lightly touches on the positive privilege this character brings to society and the self-discovery journey Leah treads. Leah finally finds her call and Reem gets a happy ending with a decent chap.
We can definitely say that Malherbe's great narrative skills of the setting bring us to the scene, making The Tower a moving tale. The book shows that when stricken with deep love rejection, tremendous loss of family members, etc. human nature shows its resiliency by making an effort to survive the darkness.
Find it on Amazon here.
Original Source : Fofky’s Blog .
Muslim women continue to unveil their true identities to the unbeknownst outside world which concluded what they are is simply oppressed and staid.
Here are three poignant anthologies that work to dispel the prejudice, show the Muslim woman’s pride, reclaim the Muslim woman’s narrative and reassert the Muslim woman’s voice in the process. Read your sisters’ words, be inspired and validated.
1. The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write
From established literary heavyweights to emerging spoken word artists, the writers in this ground-breaking collection blow away the narrow image of the Muslim Woman.
Hear from users of Islamic Tinder, a disenchanted Maulana working as a TV chat show host and a plastic surgeon blackmailed by MI6. Follow the career of an actress with Middle-Eastern heritage whose dreams of playing a ghostbuster flounder while being repeatedly cast as a jihadi bride. Among stories of honor killings and ill-fated love in besieged locations, we also find heart-warming connections and powerful challenges to the status quo. From Algiers to Brighton, these stories transcend time and place revealing just how varied the search for belonging can be.
Triska Hamid’s short poem “London” is justifiable selfish. The reader realizes that while she may not call herself an English woman, she rightfully associates with being British. She loves London.
Fadia Faqir’s story “Under the Cypress” deals with bigotry, the circle of life and compassion among other things including magical realism.
In Amina Jama’s poem “Home, to a Man,” we relate to the advices and behaviors of moms and aunties. Immigrants will relate to the poem “The Things I Would Tell You” by Hibaq Osman. In all, this anthology is an eclectic writing style, testimony and non-monolithic sampling of the Muslim women of this era.
2. Riding the Samoosa Express: Personal Narratives of Marriage and Beyond
Riding the Samoosa Express is a metaphor to refer to the process of courtship, love, marriage, and beyond. It’s a well written tale sampling the diversity and the different faces the Indian Muslim women contributors experienced.
These personal narratives range from very funny tales like Farhana Ismail’s father’s izzat (honor) demands and Somayya Hansrod’s mishaps in the kitchen, to soul searching and self-actualization stories such as the ones of Yasmin Denat and many other anonymous and non-anonymous contributors. A very thought provocative compilation, Riding the Samoosa Express tell us that what may be true for one Muslim woman is not necessarily true or the norm for another Muslim woman.
Each Muslim woman has a different life and a different culture. So, some of these stories mirror the lives of other Muslim women around the globe while many don’t. Many of the stories spoke to me. For instance, I felt the struggles of Zaheera Jina when she wished to be “Only Oomi” to her son while battling a PhD career in Mathematics.
Another story that spoke to me is the one of Nabeela Patel because of her open mind and religious tolerance of other faiths. I enjoyed her critical thinking and the way she ended her piece, “First, I need to blossom into a flower from a bud and settle into my own life. In this big, bad world I don’t know where I’ll end up, or who I will be, but I need to find that out first. I need to fathom the complex me, settle into my skin and breathe…”
3. Saffron: A Collection of Personal Narratives by Muslim Women
Saffron: A Collection of Personal Narratives by Muslim Women is an anthology of writing that draws on the lived realities of Muslim women.
Food and cooking, hardship and conflict, intimacy, baby-making, children, living with in-laws and self-esteem are some of the experiences unpacked in this collection of poignant personal narratives. This collection will remind and reassure that, although life brings with it many challenges, you as a woman are never alone in what you go through – many women share your experience.
Truly, in this anthology you will definitely realize that women all around you walk similar journeys with you. The testimonies are cryptic at times for the sake of privacy and revealing at other times for the sake of cautionary advice.
In all, all the stories complement one another. If you feel like one story left you thirsty, another will give you the closure you need. You will see an equal amount of beware-of-narcissistic-spouses and praise-able Muslim husbands like in “Khidmat in the Kitchen” by Aneesa Bodiat-Sujee.
There is also a healthy and classy dose of intimacy like in “Sublime Strawberries” by N. Moola. That’s essay 39 by the way, you have to read this sultry and cryptic romantic tale! From dealing with in-laws with diplomacy to infertility struggles, the WHOLE book rang true to me and here are some of the quotes I had to jot down:
Don’t let cooking takeover your life and don’t let the kitchen enslave you.” — Somayya Hansrod
This is a promise I made to myself before getting married. And I’m a good cook and a foodie.
“Food forces us to be present and connected in our marriages.” — Gouwa Gabier
In “Saffron,” Sumayya Mehtar said that, “… no marriage is all smooth sailing.” And I agree, you will simply realize that food has the power of mending relationships and helping you as a couple get passed the storm.
“Every newly married woman naively thinks that they are the first victim, history repeats itself with no solutions and deep sadness with no cures.” — Yumna Samaria
This is exactly where you see that other women work the journey with you and you aren’t alone. Reading the book will make you feel better and enjoy this group therapy it provides.
And of course my favorite, “Being a Muslim woman involves a perfect blend of saffron, rituals and philosophies.” —Dr. Zaheera Jina
Definitely! Without routines like daily plans, rituals like duas and dhikr, flavors like spices & teas and philosophies like inspirational quotes; I would be an unproductive mess and fit the stereotype about the Muslim woman as being a closed-minded individual.
There are many more passages in the book I found inspirational, and I hope you come to say the same too. These women hail from Africa, North and South America, Asia, Australia and Europe. Their common denominator is Islam and that alone makes their struggles and their wins relatable, and their book a must-read.
book reviewBook RecommendationsIslamic literatureMuslim authorsgreat marriage adviceBook SuggestionsThe Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women WriteSaffron: A Collection of Personal Narratives by Muslim WomenRiding the Samoosa Express: Personal Narratives of Marriage and Beyond
The White Elephant is a must read for anyone contemplating the idea of marriage or anyone going through a divorce. As the Love and Relationship Editor for Hayati Magazine, I try to counsel married and non-married folks on the institution of marriage. These tips usually stem from personal experience and/or the realities on the ground I have witnessed. So after reading The White Elephant, I can say that the author Aishah Adams did a great job at compiling things a Muslimah seeking marriage needs to be aware of when it comes to marriage and things she needs to look out for when she is dealing with divorce or marriage.
Adams has been through a challenging marriage before, so her advices are warranted. She is very experienced in the matter. Allah (subhanahu wa ta ala) usually tries us so that we can learn something from the tests. The author has and is now sharing her experience with others so that they don’t make mistakes too. She is also a Marriage and Personal development Coach at the Siddiqah Institute. In her own words, she ‘is passionate about helping more Muslim women have fulfilling marriages.’
To go back to the review, The White Elephant is divided into three parts. Part one is about ‘Before you step in’. This part includes three chapters that will help you make decisions as you consider marriage; the research you have to do, the compatibility issues you need to inquire on, and the compromise and not discounting or lowering your standards part you need to consider.
Part two is titled ‘And They Lived Happily Ever After’ and it’s far from the Disney or Hollywood Rom-Com happy ending we usually think of. This part deals with what happens when the wedding celebrations are over and reality sets in. This is the part when we realize that marriage is not a walk in the park or a picnic. It requires maintenance and sabr.
The last part is called ‘When the chips are down’. This is where divorcees and people facing abuse in their marriages can find solace and tips if they need guidance.
Adams also makes it clear that sex and intimacy are an integral part of a marriage. They shouldn’t be discounted or overlooked as they play a huge role in the happiness of a couple. Something, I allude to clockwise.
To continue, the epilogue of the book is composed of real life stories, interview style. Out of the four stories, one stood out to me the most. It was the one of Umm Bilal, mother of two kids. I really loved reading her answers. Read to find out what she said!
In conclusion here, The White Elephant launches on September 23rd and you can attend the FREE online book launch if you hurry. Click here. Contact the author through the Siddiqah Institute website to know where you can purchase your copy if you can’t get your copy on Amazon here.
Jazakh’Allahu khair for reading,
Papatia Feauxzar (Author of BLOOM)
6 Broken Hearts is a multi-generational romance drama. It's befitting to say that the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree or history usually repeats itself and from experience parents tend to have a short memory. As I read this intriguing novel, I kept asking myself what's the catch for this seemingly perfect plot? And I got my answers and I shed some tears mainly because I saw myself a little in the struggles of Juwayriya aka Jules Rouby, her family, and the tough decisions she had to make for the summary goes as this:
"Jules Rouby, as she is affectionately known; has her whole world turned upside down when secrets from her past threaten to affect her future. As she grows into a woman and finds love, her past forces her to choose between a husband and a father. This epic tale is riddled with immense heartache, love, death and the unconditional love of maternal bonds."
Furthermore, I believe anybody that has a person like Nawwaal in their lives is blessed. I know people like her and they come rare like one in a million. 6 Broken Hearts is also a testament that what we do to our parents if often done to us by our children and unless one party decides to forgive, forget, and leave it to Allah, the painful cycle continues. Some plots twists took me down rough, bitter, and happy tidbits of memory lane. I liked the story even though it made me sad a bit.
My rating: 4/5
Thank you for reading,
The Size of a Mustard Seed is a great Ramadhan read I had the opportunity to finish on a road trip just before the 2016 fard fasting period. When your daily goals about reading or listening to the Quran are met, I urge you to read some urban fiction crafted by Umm Juwayriyah aka Maryam A. Sullivan because it highlights and captures well the beauty of Ramadhan accompanied of course with the struggle of our nafs.
For me it was a bit of a Ramadhan love story and I now understand better why Tohib Adejumo's Love in Ramadan was partly inspired after her novel. In the domino effect of things, I was also inspired by Tohib and you will find out with time insha'Allah. I mean love in Ramadan can be with the Creator, it can be with yourself, it can be with a person, it can be with the deen, etc. Bottom line, it has a diverse meaning.
Going back to The Size if a Mustard Seed, it centers on Jameelah Salih, a 27 year old Indonesian-African American (post 9-11) who is a hair stylist and a college student. As the eldest of her family, she is a single Muslimah who acknowledged she has a lot of work to do on her person. In a nutshell, she is easily irritable and has an attitude problem she wants to keep under control. And one Ramadhan the opportunity to be a better Muslimah presents itself, and she grabs it.
In the midst of her self-betterment, a marriage proposal from a reknown imam comes in and Jameela while she's excited at the idea of getting married, she finds herself being reserved about this suitor and takes a while before making a decision. Like clock work, when she makes up her mind, secrets come out of the closet. All she can do is put her trust in the One who will never forsake her to help her make sense of her situation.
Along the way, a platonic and halal love triangle surfaces and you will have to read to get more details on this part. The book is definitely suitable for teenagers and adults alike.
So like I mentioned earlier, she is the eldest of her family. Meelah, like her relatives call her, also has a younger sister named Khadidja who is married to a white revert Muslim man and a younger brother Adam who will turn out to be an exemplary young Muslim man and a dashing wakil.
The novel is diverse in terms of ethnicities and what we should take from it is that Islam has no color and no race is above another one. They are Black, White, Yellow and everything in between the shades Muslims. Muslims are a diverse people indeed! With that being said, there are still people who frown on interracial unions and The Size of a Mustard Seed touches on that a little bit with a particular character. No spoilers!
I'm so looking forward to Book 2 because I feel like Khadija's story need to be told to great extent! Because of her untold story, I think many other Muslim writers were inspired by the great Umm Juwayriyah and that's an honor masha'Allah. I could be wrong but that's the impression I got so far. My rating? 5/5!
Get your copy on Amazon today. Better yet, gift it to someone during the Eid!
Jazak'Allah khair for reading,
Women in the Qur'an by Asma Lamrabet translated by Myriam Francois-Cerrah is a VERY bold read. This book of 177 pages is divided in an introductory section, a part one that deals with 'When the Qur'an speaks OF women' and a part two 'When the Qur'an speaks TO women.'
The author Asma Lamrabet is a pathologist in Morroco's Avicenna Hospital. She's also an award winning author of many articles tackling Islam and Women's issues. On the other hand, the translator, Myriam Francois-Cerrah is a writer, broadcaster and academic with a focus on current affairs, France, Islam and the Middle East. She writes for many accredited news magazines and channels like Al Jazeera English.
To continue, I found this read particularity bold and daring because it's a tafsir-exegesis- of the holy verses we have been exposed to all our lives about the women we already know but by a women's perspective that is very dismissive of many popular and biased male's interpretations of the Qur'an which at some point were deeply ingrained to us as a collective as the norm for nearly 15 centuries.
Some of the women cited are Awa (as), Bilqis (as), Maryam (as), Hagar (as), Sarah (as). You get the gist, women after which great miracles were bestowed upon, holy rituals were fashioned after or great doom descended upon because of their betrayal such as the wives of prophets Lut and Noah (as).
I'm sure there is a history of books that critically interpret the scriptures from a women's perspective but this is the first one I read. I have always thought that certain religious Muslim men since the time of rassullulah sallalahu aleihi wassalam to today were and are bonified dictators, patriarchs, and who could never see a woman as their equal even if their faith in Allah and Islam were/are steadfast. It's an oxymoron indeed. Thus, I'm sure many of them made sure to reduce the meaning of certain verses pertaining to fairness and equality toward women. I also have this strong feeling that many works by Muslim women weren't promoted and subsequently died out or weren't preserved the same way men's works and stories were. It's a shame.
Now, did I find Women in the Qur'an blasphemous at times? Yes! But is that because I have never challenged and critically analyzed my past exegeses about women in the Qur'an written by prominent Muslim scholars? Probably. The book is thought provoking, makes many valid points, and also supports exegeses by Muslim men who support Lamrabet's point of views.
With all that being said, this book is needed because no matter how much the Qur'an and the Sunnah vouch for an equality between the sexes, for the fair treatment of women, for the inclusion of women in social events, the reality on the terrain is different. There is a big majority of Muslim women who are still oppressed by imposed and cultural patriarchal ways when it should be the Muslim woman's choice to decide to work, to go pray at the mosque, to have children when in a marriage, to accept or refuse a suitor, to pick her own husband, to wear hijab, to be educated, etc. Unfortunately many Muslim women can't escape their husbands and families (in-laws, biological or even elder non-relatives) making choices for them.
I also believe that this wrong will be right as we all speak up and ask about a change like Lamrabet started. In my opinion, there is also a reason why women will start to outnumber men at the crack of doom; a thing that is already noticeable as the numbers of baby girls born are slightly over the baby boys born. Now, when the women have the majority, it's imperative to stay fair to men, to not act like non-Muslim feminists who can't seem to accept or recognize Muslim Feminists. Jahannam will have a larger number of women and I hope none of the ummah will dwell there because they left sirat-al mustakim.
Furthermore, just because an increase of independent women is a sign of the end times, it doesn't mean women should be kept under a tight leash. I actually see men controlling everything a woman does as a way to stop times. I see it as a way to worship dunya. Everything has an expiration date and things will follow their course no matter what. It's the qadr of Allah. It's been written eons ago. Why fight it?
Above all, get your copy of Women in the Qur'an at Kube Publishing. It has a different insight!
To get 10% off any book at Kube Publishing's website use COUPON CODE : BLOGGERS10
Thank you for reading,
Happiness is READING!!! I had my share of Double this Happiness about a month back, when the the lovely Papatia Feauxzar, Author of Bloom, messaged to let me know she was sending me a copy of her latest publication for my reading enjoyment. Three weeks later,’last Saturday’, I received the much anticipated package in Bahrain, all the way from the United States of America. Greedily sitting down to read my Personally Autographed book, I am kind of a,Foodeva Marsay Confession Alert, ‘sloth reader’, trying to squeeze in any reading I can between my other daily activities, Bloom was certainly one very interesting read. SHUKRAN/THANK YOU kindly dear Papatia for honouring me with your gift, May Allah reward you Ameen!!!
So here goes my Review for this Book, and like all other times, I would prefer not to give away too much of the story, as I hope to intrigue you enough to hopefully get your hands on these Reads.
Now no matter how old I get…I am, and will be, a Sucker for a Good Looking Cover on a book. This one stole my Heart the moment I ripped open the package. Bloom is actually 3 separate books, which have also been published before, that has now been complied into one Book, under the “Djarabi Collection” banner.
This story centres around the Protagonist , Aida Mubarak, a young, African American woman. During a reuniting with her long time friend, Nellie at a coffee shop, the entire story ,slowly, unfolds as Nellie is eager to find out all the details about her friend, Aida’s ‘private affairs’.
Protagonist Nilüfer Teecher finds herself in many situations. Her Marriage to 1st Husband Jameel Saree, has many twist and turns, with her willing to do anything for him. It is during her Life’s Jouney, that Nilüfer meets with Nasir and lastly her psychiatrist, Raj Patel.
This story bounces back to the 1st protagonist we met earlier, Aida Mubarak. Apart from being the Mistress of Spice, Aïda is now also a Mistress of Tricks. The story unfolds with her trying to keep a huge secret from her Husband Mussa.
Finally a Muslim based story line, to rival any MILLS and BOONS or 50 Shades of… The Author clearly states “For A Mature Audience Only”, as these story lines are beyond spicy. It almost leaves very little to the imagination during the many steamy bedroom scenes. What happens behind closed doors, between a man and wife, is one of the many taboo topics that many Muslim women would not dwell into. We do fail to realise that these are the very essence of how well a marriage is carried forward. This May Not appeal to many Muslims, But I would urge my readers to give it a read, and if you are uncomfortable with reading those “spicy bits”, you can easily move past those scenes.
With that having been said, There are a lot of other taboo topics that is brought into the stories, Like Polygamy/Polygyny, family, inter-racial marriages, abuse, Divorce and much more. Papatia does a great job of adding lots of Islamic references to her books, which would appeal to even Non-Muslim readers alike as she does offer explanations as the story goes on.
I loved how the Author had a Foreword and Ending Notes with a Glossary at the end, making it so much easier to understand the many different languages and words that comes through. Aïda being from West Africa, her native language, as well as bits of arabic that surfaces during the interactions between the characters is nicely added into the glossary. At times it felt like the author was speaking directly to you, even if via her characters. Having the female protagonist lead these story lines, it was refreshing. Mussa and Jameel were almost unbearable, villains at times, while Raj Patel was totally opposite to both of them. Having all three stories in one compilation made for much easier follow with each story.
My ENDING NOTES
So apart from the ‘Spicy Scenes’, this compilation is a winner. It definitely lives up-to it’s title, Bloom. Be prepared to BLOOM….be it in your marriage, or by re-kindling the romance in the bedroom, or with other members of your family and friends, Bloom into a Human being that you would be proud of, and Seek to BLOOM within your religion, Be it Islam or whichever you follow, BLOOM in the Eyes of YOUR CREATOR.
I loved this one particular Thought from the book by Aïda.
” Women! Always hating each other for some nonsense, instead of supporting each other or Blooming next to each other”
Foodeva Marsay rating : 5 Stars
I pray that Allah/GOD guides, NOT JUST ME but US ALL, to be a Better person, and Help us BLOOM in all aspects of our life, Ameen. Life is Short, Like Papatia states in the onset of the novel…
“We need to bloom next to each other…There is No Need for Competition or Jealousy”.
HAPPY READING FRIENDS…. HOUB SALAAM(Peace and Love) (MY new Fav Greeting now, thanks Papatia)
You can Connect with Papatia Feauxzar on any of the following links below.
Sahar Abdulaziz is a resident of Pennsylvania. From her website, Sahar Abdulaziz graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology before going on to earn her master’s degree in health and wellness promotion and administration. Also holding a certification in community health, she has answered hotline phones and worked as a domestic violence counselor/advocate. Abdulaziz, as a staunch advocate for mutual respect and acceptance, currently acts as a speaker and writer dedicated to helping those with hidden and painful disorders cope more successfully.
Her Book The Broken Half is a tale about domestic violence and how if left unchecked causes a lot of collateral damages. The story saddened me on numerous occasions because of the trials her characters went through; especially Zahra Evans. The assaults on Zahra traumatized me for a few days until I decided to make an effort to turn the page. I have to applaud the author Abdulazizfor penning such heavy materials which need to be discussed and resolved in our communities. That said, domestic violence is not only rampant in Muslim communities. As a matter of fact, it’s present in non-Muslims communities as well. The book doesn’t touch on that and I think it’s perhaps to say that she would write about what she knows of. You can’t write about what you don’t know. That’s my number one rule as a writer; don’t preach to the choir but surround facts with believable fiction.
Furthermore, Abdulaziz didn’t patronize anybody (Muslims or non-Muslims) in this story. I like these kind of stories which show the weaknesses of human nature and where the root of the problem started. Great fiction debunking the realities of domestic violence and its failing advocates within the story.
Jazak'Allah khair for reading.
Originally published at www.papatia.wordpress.com .