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Author Topic: Novels for Muslims  (Read 7150 times)
Sr.Kathy
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« on: Jan 13, 2009 02:41 PM »


As salaamu alaykum
I was reading the other topic about what books you all are looking forward or wondering which books to read.
I have noticed that many Muslims coming to our masjid's library are looking to read fiction type novels, stories, etc...
Which books would you recommend for me to get for our library? To give you an idea of comfort level- we have the Kite Runner- however it is on the shelf behind the desk. Don't recommend anything more explicit than a book like that.
This post isn't a duplicate of the other post- the difference is I would like you to recommend books with an Islamic, Muslim and Ethnic/Country/Culture feel to it.

"Allah surely knows the warmth of every teardrop... " Jaihoon
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« Reply #1 on: Jan 13, 2009 02:49 PM »


Assalamualaikum,

There was a book we used to read when we were kids called "Isabella: a girl of Muslim Spain" by Yahiya Emerick which was great.

ummm I can't think of any more right now (apart from kid's books)

Wassalam

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« Reply #2 on: Jan 13, 2009 03:03 PM »

Assalamo elikuim
Sr. Kathy are you asking for kids or adults ?
There are some very good fiction books by Yahiya Emerick as Sr.a_desert_rose mentioned. I remember  buying the whole pack(6 books) for my kids (there is one about a karate kid).

Wasalam
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« Reply #3 on: Jan 13, 2009 03:59 PM »

All ages
I am looking for titles that are not sold in Islamic bookstores- since my guess is I have most of them.Alhumdullillah
I am looking for books that are on public library shelves, Barnes and Nobles written by non Muslim as well as Muslim authors
Examples would be like books of Deborah Ellis. Books that are about Muslims.
Kind of like the movie Traitor- about a Muslim- but unless someone told me- I wouldn't know.

"Allah surely knows the warmth of every teardrop... " Jaihoon
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« Reply #4 on: Jan 13, 2009 06:14 PM »

I never know how to recommend books as I try so hard to not give away the plotlines, as I find that when others do that with me, it spoils my enjoyment of the book (this even applies to movies) as I end up knowing most of what happens before I've even read the book/seen the movie!  So I'm sorry if my list will seem a bit scanty at times, but these are the books that I can think of that I've read within the last 3 years which might be of interest:

Coloured Lights by Leila Aboulela.  These are short stories and I enjoyed reading them.  I know many people enjoyed Minaret, I didn't so much.  I remember at that time I was looking for something very spiritual and I didn’t feel I quite got that from it, so I guess maybe that clouded my judgement on Minaret.  I am still hoping to get ahold of The Translator though as I would like to give it a go.

Iris and Ruby by Rosie Thomas- I really liked this book.  It’s not really based on Muslims as such, but it is based in Cairo so you get a feel for the country from the perspectives of both the grandma and the granddaughter (the old cairo and modern cairo).  I liked the writing style and was more drawn to Iris, who deals with losing her memory and reflecting back on her romantic life in wartime Cairo.  I have since then tried to read another book by this author, set in Greece, but I didn’t find myself engaging with it so I stopped reading that book.  But I would definitely recommend Iris and Ruby.

The Attack- Yasmina Khadra (the author is actually Mohammed Moulessehoul but he was made to write under a pseudonym). I was a bit disappointed with this because I thought it would be so much better.  However, there is a good bit near the end when there is a debate about some of the issues around Israel and Palestine.  The beginning might be a bit disturbing for some as it's about a bomb explosion.

Swallows of Kabul by the same author- I found this to be better than The Attack, but that might be because I had high expectations of The Attack and it didn't live up to them.

Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb- I loved this book, though there are some practises in the book which are not a part of Islam, but I think that’s quite clear.  It’s about a white Muslim female and set in London, Morocco and Ethiopia.  I could gush about this book for ages!

Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrezvani- the start was especially good, but the rest of it didn’t stay as strong for me.  But when she gets married it gets a bit sexual as she thinks of ways to please her husband, so you’ll have to judge whether that would be appropriate to have on the shelf.  It was enriching to read about 17th century Isfahan (in Iran) and to also understand the impact of a temporary marriage (which the shias still do?).  The author apparently spent years researching things for the book, including carpet-weaving Smiley as it’s what the girl in the book really wants to do.

The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany - set in Egypt.  I did find it good to read, but like I said in the other thread, I’ve read too many other books which are based on some of the same issues (such as homosexuality, politics, religion).  However, having said that I did find them still intriguing, and there’s also a character who succumbs to her boss sexually harassing her, though it seems as if this is what is expected in the workplace of the women in this author’s Cairo, and in turn this begins to affect her imaan. The characters are well-developed, and the storylines were mostly captivating so I would recommend it.

The Flea Palace by Elif Shafak-set in Istanbul. The start is a bit quirky Smiley.  Overall I did like it but I don’t think it’ll be everyone’s cup of tea.

When I was like really young, hehe, back in my teens Wink, I read the Cairo trilogy (the novels are Palace Walk, Palace of Desire and Sugar Street) by Naguib Mahfouz. I remember loving the books, though I think some of the characters did engage in some unIslaamic behaviour, but I was captivated by the writing style.  However, it was only very recently, when he died, that I found out that this author wrote a really controversial book (not the Cairo trilogy) and he was likened to Salman Rushdie and received many death threats.  If I remember rightly, someone did actually attack him and he was left injured.  Imagine my shock finding this out after having all these fond memories of a young me curled up in my bedroom in winter, being really engrossed in the Cairo trilogy  Shocked

Anyway, hope that helps.  I would recommend A Thousand Splendid Suns.  It is disturbing, and that was mainly because of the vivid descriptions of the domestic violence.  You need to decide what you would feel ok with to have in your library, so I'm hoping that what I've written above will give you enough of a clue as to what the books consist of and then you can decide if you want to have them or not.

 Smiley

'If he woke up and had enough food for the day and shelter (a roof over his head) and he does not fear for his safety, then it is as if he has been given the dunya.'
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« Reply #5 on: Jan 13, 2009 06:56 PM »

Yes, these are the kinds of Novels I am looking for.
I especially like how you gave me a heads up on each book about objectional material.
This will help me decide.

"Allah surely knows the warmth of every teardrop... " Jaihoon
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« Reply #6 on: Jan 13, 2009 09:13 PM »

I remembered just as I posted - I don't know if they are available in the US but you can find in most bookshops here "Rashid and the Missing Body" and "Rashid and the Haupmann Diamond" by Hassan Radwan but they are both aimed at teens so I don't know if that's helpful.

I haven't read The Kite Runner but there is "Kiss The Dust" by Elizabeth Laird which is one of my favourite books. It's not 'Islamic' but deals with Muslim characters. Another of her books is "A little piece of ground" which looks at the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through the eyes of a Palestinian boy called Karim. Its release caused protests by Jewish pressure groups who claimed it was anti-Israeli (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/aug/23/israel.booksnews).

Wassalam,

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« Reply #7 on: Jan 13, 2009 10:29 PM »

Sure- I will take teen books too!

"Allah surely knows the warmth of every teardrop... " Jaihoon
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« Reply #8 on: Jan 14, 2009 02:25 PM »

AA.

I really love to read fantasy and scifi (is there any Islamic scifi books out there?)

One book I really liked (although I read it about 20 years ago and my tastes change over time) was Alamut by Judith Tarr.

Judith Tarr writes novels that are a combination of fantasy and history.  This one takes place during the Crusades.  The protagonist is a Frenchman who is half human and half jinn.  He comes to the Middle East to fight in the Crusades, and ends up falling in love with both a Christian woman and a female Muslim jinn... Roll Eyes

I don't know how Islamic it really is, but it was a fun read  (and Tarr does her research, although I really didn't like the way she depicted Salaahuddin...)

I just looked on Amazon, and she's got another book called A Wind in Cairo.  I haven't read it, so I don't know if it's any good.  Again, I don't know how Islamic these books would be considered...

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« Reply #9 on: Feb 02, 2009 01:25 PM »

Not sure where to place this one, in here or the other thread.  The book is The Septembers of Shiraz by Dalia Sofer.  It's about a Jewish family in Iran after the revolution has taken place.  Bit of torture in it, but I don't think it was too graphic, so think most people would be able to stomach it.  Overall, I haven't been left with a lasting impression of the book, but it's been interesting to read some more about Iran, especially as I've recently met someone from there who hates everything about the revolution and refuses to call herself Iranian.  I am sure this is because of her family's experience, but I am constantly being amazed by learning more and more about past world events and how they are still deeply shaping people now.

'If he woke up and had enough food for the day and shelter (a roof over his head) and he does not fear for his safety, then it is as if he has been given the dunya.'
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« Reply #10 on: Mar 04, 2009 12:17 AM »

asak
Quote
The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al Aswany - set in Egypt.

OMG! You have got to be kidding... I got this book... I am proofing it before i put it on the library shelves....so far it is so filled with sexual images... I am blushing and i am an American! I am thinking it is a sin to read it....
OK peoples... as far as suggestions... nothing like this book.

"Allah surely knows the warmth of every teardrop... " Jaihoon
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« Reply #11 on: Mar 04, 2009 06:54 AM »

My bad, I don't think I'd mentioned in detail that it had that kind of content in it.  To be honest though, many books are now filled with this kind of stuff, it's getting harder and harder to come across a book which doesn't have some kind of sexual content in it.  But I still think the book has some interesting stuff worth reading, like how the guy starts to become brainwashed by attending those talks by the Imam I think it was and where that leads him, etc.

'If he woke up and had enough food for the day and shelter (a roof over his head) and he does not fear for his safety, then it is as if he has been given the dunya.'
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« Reply #12 on: Mar 04, 2009 11:19 PM »


Quote
To be honest though, many books are now filled with this kind of stuff, it's getting harder and harder to come across a book which doesn't have some kind of sexual content in it.

I'm sorry but that's simply not true. There are so many great books that have nothing dodgy in them at all, I can recommend you some if you want  Smiley
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« Reply #13 on: Mar 05, 2009 01:19 PM »

I've already got a stack of books that I'm hoping to make my way through so no recommendations for now thanks, as I won't have time for awhile for new ones Smiley.  There are a lot of books without sexual content, I've read loads over the years, my bookcases are a testament to that! Smiley

It just seems that recently, the ones that I've come across, particularly which have something to do with Muslims/Islaam, however, do feature it, even if a tiny bit.  Like just this week, I've picked up Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea.  I've not started it yet because I'm making my way through some other books first, but on the jacket it says 'Love and lust, men and money.  A taboo-breaking, bestselling tale of sex and the city'.  At first, I was really put off, but I finally thought, heck why not try it and see what it's like, and if it's really as bad as it sounds, then I don't need to finish it.  This is after months of debating with myself since I first came across the book last year in another town and had rolled my eyes, and periodically since then, thought I wouldn't get it...until now. 

So what I said before is true for me.  It might not be for you Smiley, but that's been my experience recently.

wasalaam

'If he woke up and had enough food for the day and shelter (a roof over his head) and he does not fear for his safety, then it is as if he has been given the dunya.'
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« Reply #14 on: Mar 05, 2009 11:26 PM »

salam,

heard of this book but don't know too much about it: Does My Head Look Big In This? by Randa Abdel-Fattah
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« Reply #15 on: Mar 06, 2009 11:02 AM »

Minaret by Leila Aboolela
The Lotus People by Aziz Hashim
A Treasure Trove of Memories by Zuleika Mayat
All the books of author Amulya Malladi
Fiona Khan is a recommended poet and author for childrens books


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« Reply #16 on: Mar 24, 2009 02:13 PM »

Quote
Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb- I loved this book, though there are some practises in the book which are not a part of Islam, but I think that’s quite clear.  It’s about a white Muslim female and set in London, Morocco and Ethiopia.  I could gush about this book for ages!

Gush and Blush.

I just finished reading it and am at a loss of words. It is actually a good book and it is about a girl's struggles to be a good Muslim... She has to deal with many culturalisms that are considered as Islamic. For example visiting shrines of saints, genital mutilation, sheik shirk, forbidden marriages, qat use, alot of qat use, alcohol use amongst Muslims, Boys girls mixing inappropriately too close. Through out the book there is a story line about how co wives can be vicious. The whole political rally part is well written the reader is kept in the dark as the characters are- in confusion of what is happening.

It was an interesting read for the historical and cultural aspects- but i am afraid i will have to put it on the restrictive shelf because of a very provocative scene where an unmarried couple loose their virginity.  Embarrassed It was written so well- it was as if you were there! 

Sigh... Just because of 2 pages, it gets shelved in an Islamic library- so much of the book is an eye opener worth reading. Her final summation and conclusions were so pitiful in regard to her understanding of Islam.. a good book turned into just another sensational "Islam is not modern" type book.

"Allah surely knows the warmth of every teardrop... " Jaihoon
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« Reply #17 on: Jun 22, 2009 06:18 AM »

Iris and Ruby by Rosie Thomas
I just read this book- It is a good read but warning to mom's of teenagers, the main character does have a fondling/kissing leading to a sexual relationship running through out the story.
There were a lot of good familial struggles through out as well as characters struggling with Islam and culture.

Does my Head Look Big in This?
Easy read, teenage angst- some scenes allude to sexual relations. If your kids watch tv- then they won't be shocked when reading this.


"Allah surely knows the warmth of every teardrop... " Jaihoon
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