Books

15 Books By Muslim Women Writers To Add To Your TBR

Memoirs, poetry, romance, and more.

Books by Muslim women writers, selected for Muslim Women's Day.
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By Kerri Jarema and K.W. Colyard
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Created by Muslim Girl founder Amani Al-Khatahtbeh in 2017, Muslim Women’s Day is a yearly celebration of Muslim women around the world. March 27, 2022 marks the sixth annual Muslim Women’s Day, and “[t]his year’s theme is all about ‘Securing Our Space’ in every domain,” according to Muslim Girl content editor Jummanah Abu Samra. In honor of the holiday, we’ve pulled together a list of 15 books by Muslim women writers to add to your TBR.

Islam is the fastest-growing religion in the world, but it may also be one of the most grossly misunderstood, particularly where women are concerned. Islamophobic stereotypes abound in the West — stereotypes that could not be further from the truth.

There is a wealth of literature available today that accurately depicts the experiences of Muslim women and girls living all across the globe. Not only do these books help to dispel pervasive and harmful myths about women’s experiences with Islam, but they also reflect the day-to-day lives of the women and girls who read them. These 15 books by Muslim women writers will show you what Islam means to so many women around the world.

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1

Against the Loveless World

From the author of Mornings in Jenin comes this gripping novel. The story centers on Nahr, the daughter of Palestinian refugees, who’s been imprisoned and branded a terrorist by the Israeli government. Sitting in solitary confinement, Nahr tells her life’s story to the man who inspired her to fight for Palestinian freedom — a man who isn’t there.

2

Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know

A Chicago teenager spending one fateful summer in Paris finds herself connecting with a figure from the past: a 19th-century Muslim woman named Leila. What she finds in Leila’s papers is the story of a young woman forgotten in time, still yearning to blaze her own trail.

3

Misfit in Love

Janna’s looking forward to two very important reunions at her brother’s wedding: one with her mother, from whom she’s spent the summer apart, and the other with Nuah, the boy who professed his feelings for her before she was ready to hear them. She thinks she’s ready to finally pursue something with him — but after Janna finds Nuah’s affection for her has cooled, two new prospects step in to make her question everything.

4

The Arsonists’ City

In her 2021 novel, Salt Houses author Hala Alyan tells the story of the Nasr family. Idris, a Lebanese man, married Mazna, a Syrian woman, at an inauspicious time. Their wedding came in the wake of a betrayal and a tragic death, the ripples of which can still be felt by their three adult children — Ava, Mimi, and Naj — whom they raised in America. Now, Idris has inherited his family’s fortune, and Mazna wants her family together again in Beirut. But the Nasrs all have their secrets, and tensions will soon be pulled to the breaking point.

5

You Exist Too Much

Moving between Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and the United States, Zaina Arafat’s debut novel traces the life of one young, queer, Muslim woman as she wrestles with questions of identity, shame, and belonging. As she pursues answers, her life begins to spiral out of her control, and she lands in a treatment center designed to cure her of her “love addiction.”

6

If They Come For Us

A Lambda Literary Award finalist, Fatimah Asghar’s debut poetry collection explores the poet’s experiences growing up parentless, queer, and Muslim in the United States. If They Come For Us offers a visceral, yet touching look at one young Pakistani American woman’s childhood and adolescence — a perspective not often seen in mainstream pop culture.

7

All-American Muslim Girl

No one at school knows Allie comes from a Muslim family, least of all her loving boyfriend, Wells. Allie isn’t sure what Wells’ father — a Rush Limbaugh-esque radio personality who’s cultivated a following based on xenophobia — would do if he found out. But when Islamophobia rocks her community, Allie latches onto her previously unexplored faith for stability.

8

We Hunt the Flame

The lauded first novel in a YA fantasy series, Hafsah Faizal’s We Hunt the Flame centers on two young people, Zafira and Nasir, caught on opposing sides of an oppressive regime. Zafira disguises herself as a man, known only as the Hunter, and bears the weight of her community’s survival on her shoulders. Nasir assassinates the people his father, the Sultan, wants out of the way, and makes sure the entire kingdom lives in fear. But when the two of them cross paths while searching for a singular artifact, will duty win out over honor?

9

Our Women on the Ground

CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour wrote the foreword to this collection of work from Arab and Middle Eastern women journalists. Here, 19 contributors come together to discuss their work, and all the trials and tribulations that come with it. Our Women on the Ground is an eye-opening look at the realities of contemporary life in — and hard-hitting reporting on — the Middle East.

10

Love Is an Ex-Country

Deeply rooted in the author’s experiences on a cross-country road trip in 2016, Randa Jarrar’s memoir frequently diverts from her travelogue to revisit her early years in Egypt and the United States. Passing for white, the Arab American Jarrar found herself confronted with the kind of racist epithets many white people are only willing to utter when they believe people of color cannot hear them.

11

The Unquiet Dead

Rachel Getty and Esa Khattak investigate potential hate crimes, so why has one local man’s death-by-misadventure landed in their laps? Christopher Drayton fell from a cliff, and, while tragic, it doesn’t feel like the kind of case Getty and Khattak typically handle. But Christopher Drayton wasn’t born Christopher Drayton, and he may have had a hand in the deaths of thousands of Muslim men and boys… which means a lot of people had every reason to want him dead.

12

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali

When 17-year-old Rukhsana’s conservative parents find out she has a girlfriend, they scuttle her plans for her last summer before college by sending her to live with her grandmother in Bangladesh. Will an arranged marriage spell the end of Rukhsana’s dreams for her future, or does Fate have something else in store?

13

Read Dangerously: The Subversive Power of Literature in Troubled Times

From the author of Reading Lolita in Tehran comes Read Dangerously, a searing look at how literature can help us to engage with our governments, leaders, allies, and enemies. Drawing on Azar Nafisi’s experiences teaching at the University of Tehran throughout the Islamic Revolution, and crafted as a series of letters from Nafisi to her father, Read Dangerously is a timely must-read.

14

Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head

Warsan Shire’s first full-length collection of poetry will undoubtedly already be on her fans’ radars, but newcomers to her work would do well to pick up Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head or any of the poet’s previous works.

15

Unashamed: Musings of a Fat, Black Muslim

What does it mean to be a good Muslim girl? Growing up, Leah Vernon saw her own experiences go unrepresented in conversations within her religious community. Mental illness, absentee parenting, domestic violence, and abortion weren’t part of a good Muslim girl’s life — except that they were, because they were part of Vernon’s. In Unashamed, Vernon retraces the steps she took to live fearlessly in her own skin.

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