throughout my life, it was hard for me to see myself represented in any form of fictional media. i usually had to deeply look for stories depicting characters who are like me, and even if i find any, it would usually be produced/written by someone who is very far and uninformed of any part of my identity, which, most of the time, resulted in representation that is very far from reality.
fortunately, the more i grew, the more muslim creators i stumbled upon, and the more i felt represented. in the last few years, muslim people have begun to claim the stories that have always been theirs to tell. i could not be prouder of all the books i have come across that are written by muslim authors and for muslim readers, and am eager to read more of those.
one of the many characters that stuck with me is Zayneb, from Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali. i was impressed by how unapologetically muslim she was. not once during the whole novel, had she question her identity as muslim, her faith and her beliefs. and she was always ready to fight anyone who came and question it. she dealt with islamophobia with bravery and power, and i wished i was as brave as her.
the book, and the character, was just what i needed at the time. having just moved to a western country where islamophobia is common, Zayneb gave me a boost of pride, serotonin and power to speak up loud and clear about what i believed in, and never be afraid of consequences. she became an inspiration to me in various situations i encountred. i fell deeply in love with her character, both while reading and after that.
though i still have moments of doubts, Zayneb helped me decrease those, little by little. i still have a long way to go, i know that. and books by muslim authors are still a few, but i do believe the world needs and will have more of those in the future. muslim people deserve to have source of inspiration, to be seen and loved through works of fiction. they deserve to see characters have moments of sureness and doubts, so they feel less alone.
about the author
Born in Bangladesh, raised in Newcastle and currently residing in the outskirts of Manchester, Burhana Islam is a storyteller who is passionate about exploring themes of heritage, belonging, identity and faith in both her children’s and young adult works. She studied English Literature at Newcastle University before deciding to become a secondary school teacher, sharing her love for stories with a new generation of curious, young minds.
You can follow her on Twitter: @Burhana92
about Amazing Muslims Who Changed the World
Do you think you know who first thought of the theory of evolution?
Have you ever wondered who created the oldest university in the world?
Is Joan of Arc is the only rebel girl who led an army that you’ve heard of?
If so, then you need this stunningly illustrated treasure trove of iconic and hidden amazing Muslim heroes!
You’ll find people you might know, like Malala Yousafzai, Sir Mo Farah and Muhammad Ali, as well as some you might not, such as:
Hasan Ibn Al-Haytham: the first scientist to prove theories about how light travels, hundreds of years before Isaac Newton.
Sultan Razia: a fearsome female ruler.
G. Willow Wilson: the comic book artist who created the first ever Muslim Marvel character.
Ibtihaj Muhammad: the Olympic and World Champion fencer and the first American to compete in the games wearing a hijab.
Noor Inayat Khan: the Indian Princess who became a British spy during WWII.
There are so many more amazing Muslim men and women who have changed our world, from pirate queens to athletes, to warriors and mathematicians. Who will your next hero be?