Whether curling in a chair with a blanket and mug of hot goodness or stretching on a blanket under the sun with a tall and frosty drink, a good book is always the best companion. And summer is a great time to dive into books that keep you turning the pages. I love tapping the click button and getting an engaging read from an author. While I am open to reading books written by authors from a spectrum of backgrounds, I am constantly excited by the growing number of Muslim authors offering readers a range of books, including fiction, nonfiction, poetry and prose.
As usual, the sisters are not playing when it comes to releasing a variety of reads. The following books made my summer TBR (To Be Read) list bigger. I look forward to reading them all and hope you’ll take time to devour some (or all) of these tomes in the coming months! I have included the books’ Amazon blurbs, edited and adapted for publication.
Please note – these are books written by Muslim women authors but not necessarily written about Muslim-oriented topics. Also, this list doesn’t even begin to cover everything published by Muslim women authors in 2020 and 2021! Please add your favorite books written by Muslim women authors in the comments below!
Anyone who knows me knows that adult fiction is my jam. Storytellers remain essential to society’s culture and voice. The characters may not be real, but authors often use fiction as an artistic mirror, reflecting the glorious and dismal realities of life. The books below include social, cultural and historical explorations by Muslim women authors through fiction.
Joanna Burrows never expected to encounter polygyny when she converted to Islam, but she finds herself face to face with the challenge, the question is: Is she up for it? New beginnings are all around her. She is newly married, she has just given birth to her first child, and she has discovered the beauty and peace that exists within the religion of Islam. Life couldn’t have been better. Until her husband comes home one day from his weekly commute to tell her that he has married a second wife.
Hana has a lot on her plate. She struggles to make a name for herself at the radio station where she interns. Business at her mother’s halal restaurant, where she works, is slow. Then a competing, more upscale restaurant opens, and she has to deal with the owner, Aydin, who is cute but annoying.
In the midst of all the mayhem, Hana’s mysterious aunt and teenage cousin arrive from India for a surprise visit and draw her into a long-buried family secret. A hate-motivated attack on their neighborhood complicates everything further, as does Hana's growing attraction for Aydin – who might not be a complete stranger after all. As her life unravels, Hana must learn to use her voice, draw on the strength of her community and decide what her future should be.
When a distinguished scholar dies at the Barmakid hospital in Baghdad, nearly everyone points the finger at the enslaved, Mu’mina, as the one who called a demon to kill him. Tein, a former frontier fighter turned investigator with the Grave Crimes Section, has no time for religion, let alone jinn, and sets out to prove her innocence. But Ammar, Tein’s superior and old wartime friend, has already pushed her case before the Police Chief’s court where she’s sure to be executed or condemned to rot in the prisons built into the damp walls of Baghdad’s Round City.
With the help of his twin sister, Zaytuna, his childhood friend, Mustafa, and Zaytuna’s friend, the untamable Saliha, Tein plunges into a dangerous investigation that takes them into the world of talisman-makers and seers, houses of prostitution and gambling, and the fractious secular and religious court systems – all in an effort to turn back the tragic circumstances set in motion by Ammar’s destructive fear of a girl horribly wronged.
Ayda is an uncompromising, salacious woman who focuses solely on her work. She gets close to no one, and no one gets close to her. Didi, on the other hand, is fun loving and family oriented. She looks forward to the day when she and her husband will become parents. When tragedy strikes unexpectedly, Didi disappears and Ayda becomes the guardian of a young girl named Shams – a young girl who, in all societal respects, she should resent.
As Shams’s presence in Ayda’s life induces transformative consequences, the truth behind the two women’s relationship is revealed. Even in the Breaks is the story of the strength born when women refuse to let adversity defeat them.
I Bear Witness offers the reader a rare glimpse into the private journey and internal conflict of a young Muslim woman at a crossroads in her life. Anaya was taught from a young age that if she followed rules and tenets of Islam, she would be successful. So just as she adhered to her mother's strict recipes cooking and baking in the mosque's kitchen, Anaya obeys the edicts of her religion. Yet, despite her best efforts, things don't turn out exactly as planned. While pregnant with her first child, Anaya discovers a secret about her husband that makes her question her marriage, her upbringing and even her beliefs.
With the life she had so carefully put together collapsing around her, Anaya must learn the true meaning of faith.
Image source: Layla Abdullah-Poulos
Afaf Rahman, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, is the principal of Nurrideen School for Girls, a Muslim school in the Chicago suburbs. One morning, a shooter radicalized by the online alt-right attacks the school. As Afaf listens to the shooter’s terrifying progress, we are swept back through her memories: the bigotry she faced as a child, her mother’s dreams of returning to Palestine, and the devastating disappearance of her older sister that tore her family apart. Still, there is the sweetness of the music from her father’s oud and the hope and community Afaf finally finds in Islam.
Trapped in an abusive relationship with the manipulative and cruel Raad, she can feel her life closing in around her. After he chases her from her home and family, Maryam flees to Philadelphia, searching desperately for a new beginning, something to help rebuild her spiritually and physically.
When she meets the mysterious new Muslim, Adam, things are thrown off-kilter. A successful businessperson with his own past that he is fleeing from, Adam is everything that Maryam wants. But can she trust another man? Doubt gives way to desire. They find themselves in a whirlwind romance, and for once, it seems like everything will work out.
Until Raad turns up.
The men of the Ramadan Nights series love their Creator and women. Get ready to be enthralled by characters as they explore the links between faith and sensuality. Fall in love with strong, confident alphas and heroines as they undergo tests of resolve to love and captivate each other from sunset until daybreak.
The Note (Seyna Rytes)
Hadeel and Habib are reunited by fate at a time in their lives when everything between them should be possible, but will things be that simple?
The Chance (B.F. Queen)
After some time away Razia is determined to start a new life without Danyaal. But Danyaal isn’t ready to let her go, just yet.
The Ideal (Jailaa West)
Dawud was looking for the ideal Muslimah. But when he meets Zaida he realizes she’s far from ideal and yet close to perfect.
Nonfiction remains a literary mainstay in Muslim cultures across the globe. Muslim women authors continue to contribute their perspectives and wisdom at the intersections of faith, race, gender and an expanse of experiences. The titles below include memoirs, spiritual development, financial advice, self-help for converts and an academic compilation honoring the life work of one our most phenomenal Muslim women scholars.
According to Yasmeen:
My book is for all the women of the world who are divorced, single parents, struggling to raise their children on their own; married and unhappy; to all the women battling depression, low self-esteem and suffering from anxiety. To the women blinded by men who are not capable of honesty and commitment, and most importantly, any and every woman who can relate, grow and prosper from my life’s story. For Muslim women wearing hijab every day representing Islam, this book is for you!
Secrets of Divine Love: A Spiritual Journey into the Heart of Islam is an inspiring guide that will lead you towards the hidden meaning of the Quran through passion and joy. Written with care and precision, Helwa’s metaphoric insights invite you on her earnest search for truth and understanding. By accessing the inner workings of Islamic tradition, your struggles in faith will be met with a deeper connection to Allah (S) that is rooted in compassion.
Secrets of Divine Love guides readers, no matter their religious background, through the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad (saw), Rumi and other luminaries. If you like theology backed by modern science and psychology, instructions for contemporary Muslims, and motivational lessons from the Quran, then you’ll adore A. Helwa’s insightful book.
Life coach Halimah DeOliveira takes the time to share her “9 Principles of Success” through personal experiences with faith, family, finances and wellness and how they individually and collectively help us to achieve massive success. She invites the reader along her journey, and that of a few of her business besties, in hopes that you will use her story as a guide to create your own success story!
In her signature style, Halimah offers up her own missteps and lessons with regards to faith and growing up poor in NYC. Through these life experiences, she shows us how they shaped her into the woman she is today. She helps us to come face to face with ourselves, to do the necessary work to take our lives to the next level through her 15 minute exercises at the end of each chapter.
The Project Lina book and workshops are designed to bring converts to a place of joyful confidence in themselves, their faith and their place in their families and communities.
The three modules found in this book – Know Yourself, Declare your Independence and Tend your Ties – provide a springboard from which converts can grow into community members who, like palm trees, have deep roots, strong but flexible trunks, and bear wonderful, life-sustaining fruit.
Whether you're new to Islam or a seasoned convert with tales and advice of her own to share, Project Lina will help you continue to bring your whole selves to Islam. It is the open arms, spiritual guidance and the balanced way forward that converts need for a healthy transition from newbies to vital members of their communities – and then to the leaders our communities need.
Amina Wadud, scholar and activist, is a vital figure in Islamic studies, Quranic hermeneutics, and gender studies, fields to which she has made a lasting contribution. Thirty-three contributors – colleagues, students, fellow activists and others inspired by her work – share their reflections and thoughts on her work, both activist and scholarly, and the many ways in which she has left an imprint on their own endeavors. The volume includes academic essays, personal reflections, letters, poems and one piece of visual art, all written for and dedicated to Amina with respect, admiration and love.
Y’all ready? Good! Start clicking or amassing these books and enjoy these reads under the summer sun.
What are you reading this summer? Share with us in the comments below!