Do you want to delve into a new Muslim novel, but don’t know where to start? Check out these female Muslim writers! Reading is uniquely special because every person envisions the physical layout of a story based on their own pure imagination, which is infinitely different from watching a movie, despite what they say. From fantasy to memoir, stories have the power to transport you to other worlds, step into another life, and experience it all for yourself. But more importantly, these authors are representing real Muslim women, which we just don’t see enough of in the media.
Written by Muslimahs themselves, you can trust these reads to express stories and experiences of relatable Muslims. Since Muslim people come from all different cultures and backgrounds, you can also expose yourself to Muslim ethnicities and customs other than your own.
These stories strive to change the narrative about Muslim stereotypes and it’s likely you will experience a stronger connection to the writing of a Muslimah author, as they are able to more perfectly capture your thoughts and emotions as a Muslim woman.
Each of the selected books in this list, all written by female Muslim American authors, draws from differing experiences and cultures that will leave you feeling refreshed and inspired.
This one is for all those Muslimah bookworms out there looking for characters and stories that speak to them and make them feel represented. Read on to find out about our favorite books written by Muslim women!
Whether it’s fantasy, sci-fi, or realistic fiction you crave, these stories will take you a step outside of your daily life and into another–the perfect getaway from the comfort of your home!
An Islamic school for girls in Chicago quickly becomes the target of a school shooting. Hiding in silence and fear, the main character, Afaf, looks back on her life and takes us into her past. As the child of Palestinian immigrants, we see a great deal about her childhood and the struggles she faced to find comfort in her relationship with her faith. We are taken on a back-and-forth timeline between the past, Afaf’s upbringing, and the present situation at the school. This is a story about finding comfort in faith, people coming together in dire circumstances, and facing our fears.
Ayesha Shamsi is a hijab-wearing, unmarried woman in her late twenties. She works as a substitute teacher while she dreams of becoming a slam poet and faces pressure to marry from those around her. Her younger cousin, Hafsa, already has many engagement offers (100 to be exact), which only adds to Ayesha’s pressure from her family to marry, but she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. When she meets Khalid, everything changes. She grows feelings for him just before his engagement with Hafsa is announced. What can go wrong in this love triangle? Jalaluddin captures the experiences of different types of Muslim women and how they must navigate the waters of life and family.
This romantic comedy is told through a series of journal entries by Sofia; a second-generation, South Asian woman who lives in London with her immigrant Pakistani family. She works in publishing and is just trying to get from one day to the next when her boss asks her to write a book on the Muslim dating scene. What will she write? Sofia is a realistic portrayal of the modern woman trying to balance work, life, family, love, and religion. This witty tribute to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is a great choice for some relaxed, light reading!
Unmarriageable is a contemporary romance that faithfully follows the Pride and Prejudice storyline but from a Pakistani perspective. When invited to a wedding, five sisters are tutored on how to find a husband. The novel highlights the pressures put on young women in Pakistani culture to marry into a family of equal or higher class status in order to secure their futures. Alys, the reimagined Elizabeth Bennet character, is a feminist who doesn’t want to settle into a marriage, while Sherry, who is seen as cursed for her inability to have children, is okay with the tradeoffs of a marriage that will help her reach a sustainable future. Told from multiple perspectives, we see Kamal’s reinventions of the traditional characters from Pride and Prejudice and the choices that different women make for themselves based on their own individual needs.
Natasha is a Muslim history professor of Sudanese and Russian descent. She is studying the life of Imam Shamil, a leader of the Caucasian resistance in Russia during the 19th century. She soon learns that one of her students, Oz, is a descendant of Shamil and is in possession of his ancient sword. The story is told through two perspectives, Natasha in the present, and Imam in the past. When Oz is mysteriously arrested, Natasha has to confront her Muslim heritage and question what she values. Aboulela’s half-contemporary, half-historical novel reflects on the Muslim experience living in a non-Muslim country, and how the past can give us important insights into the present.
This debut novel follows an Indian Muslim family and the trials they go through together. The story takes place at Hadia’s wedding. When her brother Amar shows up, the family is excited to see him, but is also concerned with the outcome of his visit. Mirza shows us what went wrong for this once-happy family through flashbacks of each of the family members. We see Amar’s perspective and how he struggles with his faith, but still longs to be a part of his family. We see Hadia’s perspective, her love for religion, and her acceptance of her place in the family. We also see Huda, the middle sister, who is outside of the conflict, and how she interacts with her Muslim beliefs in her own way. Mirza’s writing is so deeply immersive, she is able to take us into the minds of these characters and truly understand a family dynamic that can only be known if you are a part of that family. She shows us how a lack of connection and communication can hurt an entire family unit. A Place For Us is about navigating your way back to the people you once called home and healing those relationships.
Nonfiction and Memoir
Need a little real-life inspiration? Check out these strong Muslim women who are sharing their stories with the world!
Muslim Women Are Everything: Stereotype-Shattering Stories of Courage, Inspiration, and Adventure – Seema Yasmin
Looking for a little female inspiration? Created to show that Muslim women are the opposite of weak and restricted, this book does exactly as its title says. Yasmin shatters stereotypes by showcasing real Muslim women that are making space for themselves in the performance, writing, art, and political industries. With 125 colorful illustrations by Fahmida Azim, this book reveals strong women who demand to be heard such as Nura Afia, Covergirl’s first hijabi ambassador, American singer and songwriter, SZA, who was raised as a Muslim, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, America’s first Muslim congresswomen, and many more!
Wilson’s inspirational memoir is about her own journey to Cairo, where she converted to Islam. As she is deeply immersed in a new culture, we see her struggles of being in a foreign country, as well as her commitment despite a difficult language barrier.
The other half of this story is a romance with an Egyptian man, Omar, to whom she becomes engaged. The novel follows their relationship, how they navigate the cross-cultural dynamics of their two entirely different interpretations of Muslim belief, and how they build a new way of treating Western vs Eastern practices. Philosophical at times, the novel raises important ideas and questions as she reflects on this time of her life. Wilson is well known for writing stories that accurately represent the Islamic experience, and here we see her own personal journey that made her the impactful woman she is today.
Yassmin is a strong-willed woman who wants to change the future and has been working to achieve that goal since she was a teenager. She founded the Youth Without Borders project at sixteen years old, and has been winning ‘Woman of the Year’ awards ever since. Yassmin’s charismatic aura is carried onto the page as she tells stories of her journey from Sudan to Australia and her obstacles as a multiracial Muslim woman. She offers an open-minded perspective of what the world could be like if we put aside our differences, and challenges us all to see her vision and explore the importance of cultural identity.
This gripping memoir follows the story of Zeba’s journey toward individuality and finding her own identity. Growing up in Saudi Arabia, she struggled with alopecia and self-esteem. She found liberation in higher education when she came of age and was able to begin traveling throughout college. Talkhani’s rich descriptions give us the ability to understand her first taste of the different cultures that she experiences in these new countries. On this journey, she discovers that she is a Feminist and creates her own path for the future. This is a coming-of-age story and a life lesson that anyone can change their circumstance through ambition and determination.
Poems are special because they convey so much with so little. They’re quick and easy, so they are only a small commitment for the super busy ladies out there. Read a poem a day starting with these delightful collections of poetry!
This beautiful collection of poetry touches on what it’s like as a Pakastani Muslim woman growing up in America. The poems are about Fatimah’s own life, being orphaned as a child, and the struggle to find her place in the world without the help of her parents. It is a coming-of-age story about sexuality, race, and cultural identity packed into clever line breaks and stanzas.
You may also know Fatimah Asghar as the writer of the Emmy-nominated web series, Brown Girls, which focuses on the fostering of relationships between women of color.
Elhillo’s book captures what it’s like to be a misunderstood American-Muslim girl in a post-9/11 world. Written in character-driven verse, Nima is a girl caught between her Muslim and American cultures. This is physically shown in the text, as Elhillo mixes a little bit of Arabic into her writing. The poems explore how past decisions impact our current identity and our need for a sense of belonging, all while challenging Islamophobia. A beautifully written and relatable novel!
We hope this list exposed you to a few new books worth checking out! When you read the novels or collections of Muslim women, not only does it feel good knowing that you are directly supporting their art, but also you can feel seen, heard, and comforted by the fact that you are not alone in your struggles, emotions, or experiences. These books are highlighting what it actually looks like to be both a Muslim and a woman.
Representation is so important, and while there are simply not enough Muslim advocates in the media, sharing stories with characters that have the same beliefs and values as you is a vital and fundamental step towards making change. Find the inspiration you need and cozy up with some great reads that will boost your inspiration and productivity all year long!