100 contemporary books written by muslims that are powerful weapons of mass enlightenment

Fear is rooted in ignorance. What could be more powerful than an understanding that's more than skin deep? And what medium holds more power than the written word? These books are weapons of education in their own right.
memoirs 100byShelfJoy written-by-muslims
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Reading Lolita in Tehran

by Azar Nafisi

About the book:  We all have dreams—things we fantasize about doing and generally never get around to. This is the story of Azar Nafisi’s dream and of the nightmare that made it come true. For two years before she left Iran in 1997, Nafisi gathered seven young women at her house every Thursday morning to read and discuss forbidden works of Western literature. They were all former students whom she had taught at university. Some came from conservative and religious families, others were progressive and secular; several had spent time in jail. They were shy and uncomfortable at first, unaccustomed to being asked to speak their minds, but soon they began to open up and to speak more freely, not only about the novels they were reading but also about themselves, their dreams and disappointments. Their stories intertwined with those they were reading—Pride and Prejudice, Washington Square, Daisy Miller and Lolita—their Lolita, as they imagined her in Tehran. Nafisi’s account flashes back to the early days of the revolution, when she first started teaching at the University of Tehran amid the swirl of protests and demonstrations. In those frenetic days, the students took control of the university, expelled faculty members and purged the curriculum. When a radical Islamist in Nafisi’s class questioned her decision to teach The Great Gatsby, which he saw as an immoral work that preached falsehoods of “the Great Satan,” she decided to let him put Gatsby on trial and stood as the sole witness for the defense. Azar Nafisi’s luminous tale offers a fascinating portrait of the Iran-Iraq war viewed from Tehran and gives us a rare glimpse, from the inside, of women’s lives in revolutionary Iran. It is a work of great passion and poetic beauty, written with a startlingly original voice. From the Hardcover edition.

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Brick Lane

by Monica Ali

About the book:  “A book you won’t be able to put down. A Bangladeshi immigrant in London is torn between the kind, tedious older husband with whom she has an arranged marriage (and children) and the fiery political activist she lusts after. A novel that’s multi-continental, richly detailed and elegantly crafted.” —Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Sisterland After an arranged marriage to Chanu, a man twenty years older, Nazneen is taken to London, leaving her home and heart in the Bangladeshi village where she was born. Her new world is full of mysteries. How can she cross the road without being hit by a car (an operation akin to dodging raindrops in the monsoon)? What is the secret of her bullying neighbor Mrs. Islam? What is a Hell's Angel? And how must she comfort the naïve and disillusioned Chanu? As a good Muslim girl, Nazneen struggles to not question why things happen. She submits, as she must, to Fate and devotes herself to her husband and daughters. Yet to her amazement, she begins an affair with a handsome young radical, and her erotic awakening throws her old certainties into chaos. Monica Ali’s splendid novel is about journeys both external and internal, where the marvelous and the terrifying spiral together.

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An Unnecessary Woman

by Rabih Alameddine

About the book:  An obsessive introvert in Beirut, eschewed by her family and neighbors for her divorced status and lack of religious reverence, quietly translates favorite books into Arabic while struggling with her aging body until an unthinkable disaster threatens what little life remains to her. By the best-selling author of The Hakawati. 20,000 first printing.

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In the Footsteps of the Prophet

by Tariq Ramadan

About the book:  Named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most important innovators of the century, Tariq Ramadan is a leading Muslim scholar, with a large following especially among young European and American Muslims. Now, in his first book written for a wide audience, he offers a marvelous biography of the Prophet Muhammad, one that highlights the spiritual and ethical teachings of one of the most influential figures in human history. In the Footsteps of the Prophet is a fresh and perceptive look at Muhammad, capturing a life that was often eventful, gripping, and highly charged. Ramadan provides both an intimate portrait of a man who was shy, kind, but determined, as well as a dramatic chronicle of a leader who launched a great religion and inspired a vast empire. More important, Ramadan presents the main events of the Prophet's life in a way that highlights his spiritual and ethical teachings. The book underscores the significance of the Prophet's example for some of today's most controversial issues, such as the treatment of the poor, the role of women, Islamic criminal punishments, war, racism, and relations with other religions. Selecting those facts and stories from which we can draw a profound and vivid spiritual picture, the author asks how can the Prophet's life remain -- or become again -- an example, a model, and an inspiration? And how can Muslims move from formalism -- a fixation on ritual -- toward a committed spiritual and social presence? In this thoughtful and engaging biography, Ramadan offers Muslims a new understanding of Muhammad's life and he introduces non-Muslims not just to the story of the Prophet, but to the spiritual and ethical riches of Islam.

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The Muslim Next Door

by Sumbul Ali-Karamali

About the book:  An accessible introduction to Islam by an American Muslim shares comprehensive and academically sound answers to key questions about such topics as jihad, Islamic fundamentalism, and women's rights. Original.

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The Domestic Crusaders

by Wajahat Ali

About the book:  The Domestic Crusaders focuses on a day in the life of a modern Muslim Pakistani-American family of six eclectic, unique members, who convene at the family house to celebrate the twenty-first birthday of the youngest child. With a background of 9-11 and the scapegoating of Muslim Americans, the tensions and sparks fly among the three generations, culminating in an intense family battle as each "crusader" struggles to assert and impose their respective voices and opinions, while still attempting to maintain and understand that unifying thread that makes them part of the same family.

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The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf

by Mohja Kahf

About the book:  Growing up devoutly Muslim in her 1970s Indiana community, Syrian immigrant Najla Shamy and her siblings struggle to balance the cultures of America and their family, a coming-of-age challenge that the adult Najla remembers years later when she reconnects with friends from other mixed heritages. Original.

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How Does it Feel to be a Problem?

by Moustafa Bayoumi

About the book:  A study of the Arab- and Muslim-American experience as reflected in the lives of seven young men and women in Brooklyn evaluates their encounters with prejudice and their relationships with friends and family members in the Middle East.

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This Muslim American Life

by Moustafa Bayoumi

About the book:  Over the last few years, Moustafa Bayoumi has been an extra in Sex and the City 2 playing a generic Arab, a terrorist suspect (or at least his namesake “Mustafa Bayoumi” was) in a detective novel, the subject of a trumped-up controversy because a book he had written was seen by right-wing media as pushing an “anti-American, pro-Islam” agenda, and was asked by a U.S. citizenship officer to drop his middle name of Mohamed. Others have endured far worse fates. Sweeping arrests following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 led to the incarceration and deportation of thousands of Arabs and Muslims, based almost solely on their national origin and immigration status. The NYPD, with help from the CIA, has aggressively spied on Muslims in the New York area as they go about their ordinary lives, from noting where they get their hair cut to eavesdropping on conversations in cafés. In This Muslim American Life, Moustafa Bayoumi reveals what the War on Terror looks like from the vantage point of Muslim Americans, highlighting the profound effect this surveillance has had on how they live their lives. To be a Muslim American today often means to exist in an absurd space between exotic and dangerous, victim and villain, simply because of the assumptions people carry about you. In gripping essays, Bayoumi exposes how contemporary politics, movies, novels, media experts and more have together produced a culture of fear and suspicion that not only willfully forgets the Muslim-American past, but also threatens all of our civil liberties in the present.

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Veils

by Nahid Rachlin

About the book:  The ten stories in Veils take place in present-day Iran or in the United States where Iranian immigrants face alien ways. Teheran's ancient Ghanat Abad Avenue, with its labyrinth of narrow streets and alleys, loosely links the stories into a single narrative: some residents leave as soon as they can, others can live nowhere else. The men and women in these spare and sensuous narratives who are caught in the confusing whirl of changing cultures sometimes meet with failure but more often transcend difficult circumstances to gain deeper self-knowledge.

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A Walnut Sapling on Masih's Grave

by John Green

About the book:  The mothers were ... signing anthems by the gravesides. We sang anthems too, and shared our little tin of halvah with everyone. The graves were one with the sky... If I had died Nanny Masumah would have planted a walnut sapling over my grave. The language of the short stories in this compelling collection was translated from Persian into English, but the sentiments need no translation. Romance. Infidelity. Relationships between sisters. Family crises. Societal roles. Such are the topics of short stories, and these from Iranian women are no different. With the male-dominated soiciety of Iran as a backdrop, the stories cover a period from 1945-1989 and are of universal appeal - yet with setting and tone that evokes something of the realtionship between these writers and the sexually segregated society to which they belong. This is not a literary cannon nor is it inteneded to be. The editors set out simply to compile a readable and interesting group of stories, some by prominent writers and others by prominent women with no literary pretensions, in a variety of styles and perspectives. The contributions by women to Persian fiction are growing rapidly. This anthology is but a small sample of a much lager existing and forthcoming body of work. "The stories allow readers to glimpse the rich, poetic Persian spirit trapped within the rigid social constraints all Iranians, especially women, endure." - The Christian Science Monitor

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Satan's Stones

by Moniru Ravanipur

About the book:  Women writers occupy prominent positions in contemporary Iranian literature, despite the increased legal and cultural restrictions placed upon women since the 1978-1979 Islamic Revolution. One of these writers is Moniru Ravanipur, author of the critically acclaimed The Drowned and Heart of Steel. Satan's Stones is the first English translation of her 1991 short story collection Sangha-ye Sheytan. Often set in the remote regions of Iran, these stories explore many facets of contemporary Iranian life, particularly the ever-shifting relations between women and men. Their bold literary experimentation marks a new style in Persian fiction akin to "magical realism." Recent reports from Iran indicate that Satan's Stones has been banned there by government authorities. While its frank explorations of Iranian society may have offended Islamic leaders, they offer Western readers fresh perspectives on Iranian culture from one of the country's most distinguished writers.

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Stories by Iranian women since the Revolution

by Soraya Paknazar Sullivan

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Stories from Iran

by Heshmat Moayyad

About the book:  This collection of thirty-five Persian short stories by twenty-six of Iran's best known contemporary writers gives voice to the concerns, strivings, and visions of their generation. In styles ranging from the dark to the humorous, from the elegant to the poetic, these stories depict aspects of both traditional and modern life in Iran with its many religious, political, cultural and class tensions. The expanding role of women in Iranian society is attested to both by the large number of women writers included in the volume, and by the central role played by women in many of the stories. Written during the last 75 years and arranged in chronological order, these stories span a period in Iranian history from the Constitutional Revolution (1906-11) through the long reign of the Pahlavis (1925-79), the upheavals of the 1950s, the 1979 Islamic Revolution, to the present. "Stories From Iran" was selected, edited, and translated by scholars of Persian Literature at the University of Chicago. Accompanied by a complete glossary, author biographies and photos, it will give the reader an unmatched insight into Iranian life -- an insight that only true works of art can provide.

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The Moor's Account

by Laila Lalami

About the book:  **Longlisted for the 2015 Man Booker Prize** **Nominated for the 2016 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award** A Pulitzer Prize Finalist A New York Times Notable Book A Wall Street Journal Top 10 Book of the Year An NPR Great Read of 2014 A Kirkus Best Fiction Book of the Year In this stunning work of historical fiction, Laila Lalami brings us the imagined memoirs of the first black explorer of America—a Moroccan slave whose testimony was left out of the official record. In 1527, the conquistador Pánfilo de Narváez sailed from the port of Sanlúcar de Barrameda with a crew of six hundred men and nearly a hundred horses. His goal was to claim what is now the Gulf Coast of the United States for the Spanish crown and, in the process, become as wealthy and famous as Hernán Cortés. But from the moment the Narváez expedition landed in Florida, it faced peril—navigational errors, disease, starvation, as well as resistance from indigenous tribes. Within a year there were only four survivors: the expedition’s treasurer, Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca; a Spanish nobleman named Alonso del Castillo Maldonado; a young explorer named Andrés Dorantes de Carranza; and Dorantes’s Moroccan slave, Mustafa al-Zamori, whom the three Spaniards called Estebanico. These four survivors would go on to make a journey across America that would transform them from proud conquis-tadores to humble servants, from fearful outcasts to faith healers. The Moor’s Account brilliantly captures Estebanico’s voice and vision, giving us an alternate narrative for this famed expedition. As the dramatic chronicle unfolds, we come to understand that, contrary to popular belief, black men played a significant part in New World exploration and Native American men and women were not merely silent witnesses to it. In Laila Lalami’s deft hands, Estebanico’s memoir illuminates the ways in which stories can transmigrate into history, even as storytelling can offer a chance for redemption and survival. From the Hardcover edition.

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Throne of the Crescent Moon

by Saladin Ahmed

About the book:  Traditional swords & sorcery fantasy with an authentic middle-eastern spin. The Crescent Moon Kingdoms, land of djenn and ghuls, holy warriors and heretics, Khalifs and killers, is at boiling point. A power struggle between the iron-fisted Khalif and the mysterious master thief known as the Falcon Prince is reaching its climax. In the midst of this brewing rebellion, a series of brutal supernatural murders strikes at the heart of the Kingdoms. Only a handful of reluctant heroes can learn the truth, and stop the killing. Doctor Adoulla Makhslood just wants a quiet cup of tea. Three score and more years old, he has grown weary of hunting monsters and saving lives, and is more than ready to retire from his dangerous and demanding vocation. But when an old flame's family is murdered, Adoulla is drawn back to the hunter's path. Raseed bas Raseed, Adoulla's young assistant, a hidebound holy warrior whose prowess is matched only by his piety, is eager to deliver God's justice. Zamia Badawi has been gifted with the near-mythical power of the Lion-Shape, but shunned by her people for daring to take up a man's title. She lives only to avenge her father's death. Until she learns that Adoulla and his allies also hunt her father's killer. Until she meets Raseed. When they learn that the murders and the Falcon Prince's brewing revolution are connected, the companions must race against time to save the life of a vicious despot. In so doing they discover a plot for the Throne of the Crescent Moon that threatens to turn the city, and the world itself, into a blood-soaked ruin.

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The Unquiet Dead

by Ausma Zehanat Khan

About the book:  Despite their many differences, Detective Rachel Getty trusts her boss, Esa Khattak, implicitly. But she's still uneasy at Khattak's tight-lipped secrecy when he asks her to look into Christopher Drayton's death. Drayton's apparently accidental fall from a cliff doesn't seem to warrant a police investigation, particularly not from Rachel and Khattak's team, which handles minority-sensitive cases. But when she learns that Drayton may have been living under an assumed name, Rachel begins to understand why Khattak is tip-toeing around this case. It soon comes to light that Drayton may have been a war criminal with ties to the Srebrenica massacre of 1995. If that's true, any number of people might have had reason to help Drayton to his death, and a murder investigation could have far-reaching ripples throughout the community. But as Rachel and Khattak dig deeper into the life and death of Christopher Drayton, every question seems to lead only to more questions, with no easy answers. Had the specters of Srebrenica returned to haunt Drayton at the end, or had he been keeping secrets of an entirely different nature? Or, after all, did a man just fall to his death from the Bluffs? In her spellbinding debut The Unquiet Dead, Ausma Zehanat Khan has written a complex and provocative story of loss, redemption, and the cost of justice that will linger with readers long after turning the final page.

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Native Believer

by Ali Eteraz

About the book:  "Native Believer stands as an important contribution to American literary culture: a book quite unlike any I've read in recent memory, which uses its characters to explore questions vital to our continuing national discourse around Islam." --New York Times Book Review, Editors' Choice "M.'s life spins out of control after his boss discovers a Qur'an in M.'s house during a party, in this wickedly funny Philadelphia picaresque about a secular Muslim's identity crisis in a country waging a never-ending war on terror." --O, the Oprah Magazine "Native Believer is a page-turning contemporary fiction that addresses burning issues about the very essence of identity, and without question Ali Eteraz is a writer’s writer, one whose ear for the English language is just as acute as fellow naturalized Americans Vladimir Nabokov (born in Russia) or Viet Thanh Nguyen (Vietnam).” --Los Angeles Review of Books "[A] poignant and profoundly funny first novel....Eteraz combines masterful storytelling with intelligent commentary to create a nuanced work of social and political art." --Booklist "Eteraz's narrative is witty and unpredictable...and the darkly comic ending is pleasingly macabre. As for M., in this identity-obsessed dandy, Eteraz has created a perfect protagonist for the times. A provocative and very funny exploration of Muslim identity in America today." --Kirkus Reviews "In bitingly funny prose, first novelist Eteraz sums up the pain and contradictions of an American not wanting to be categorized; the ending is a bang-up surprise." --Library Journal "Who wants to be Muslim in post-9/11 America? Many of the characters in Ali Eteraz‘s new novel Native Believer have no choice in the matter; they deal in a variety of ways with issues of belonging and identity in a society bent on categorizing, stereotyping, and targeting Muslims." --KPFA Pacifica "Ali Eteraz is a pen name that means ‘Noble Protest.’ In his darkly funny debut novel, the protest may not be entirely noble, but it is essential—the story follows M., a Philadelphia man who is Muslim by birth but not by belief. When he gets fired for owning a copy of the Quran, his life spirals out of control as he tries to find some semblance of a place in the world." -- Literary Hub "Ali Eteraz’s fiction has encompassed everything from the surreal and fantastical to the urgently political. Native Believer, his debut novel, explores questions of nationality, religion, and the fears and paranoia in American society circa right now. --Vol. 1 Brooklyn "Eteraz’s novel asks what Muslims must do to themselves in order to be successful in the United States—deny their heritage? Buy into America’s war machine? Watch as the Middle East goes up in flames?" -- CounterPunch Ali Eteraz's much-anticipated debut novel is the story of M., a supportive husband, adventureless dandy, lapsed believer, and second-generation immigrant who wants nothing more than to host parties and bring children into the world as full-fledged Americans. As M.'s life gradually fragments around him--a wife with a chronic illness; a best friend stricken with grief; a boss jeopardizing a respectable career--M. spins out into the pulsating underbelly of Philadelphia, where he encounters others grappling with fallout from the War on Terror. Among the pornographers and converts to Islam, punks and wrestlers, M. confronts his existential degradation and the life of a second-class citizen. Darkly comic, provocative, and insightful, Native Believer is a startling vision of the conte

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Children of Dust

by Ali Eteraz

About the book:  “[Eteraz’s] adventures are a heavenly read.” —O, the Oprah magazine “In this supremely assured, lush, and rip-roaring book, Eteraz manages to do the impossible, gliding confidently over the chasm that divides East and West. Wildly entertaining…memoir of the first order.” —Murad Kalam, author of Night Journey Ali Eteraz’s award-winning memoir reveals the searing spiritual story of growing up in Pakistan under the specter of militant Islamic fundamentalism and then overcoming the culture shock of emigrating to the United States. A gripping memoir evocative of Persepolis, Reading Lolita in Tehran, and the novel The Kite Runner, Eteraz’s narrative is also a cathartic chronicle of spiritual awakening. Yael Goldstein Love, author of Overture, calls Children of Dust “a gift and a necessity [that] should be read by believers and nonbelievers alike.”

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A Case of Exploding Mangoes

by Mohammed Hanif

About the book:  There is an ancient saying that when lovers fall out, a plane goes down. This is the story of one such plane. Why did a Hercules C130, the world's sturdiest plane, carrying Pakistan's military dictator General Zia ul Haq, go down on 17 August, 1988? Was it because of: 1.Mechanical failure 2.Human error 3.The CIA's impatience 4.A blind woman's curse 5.Generals not happy with their pension plans 6.The mango season Or could it be your narrator, Ali Shigri? Teasing, provocative, and very, very funny, Mohammed Hanif's debut novel takes one of the subcontinent's enduring mysteries and out if it spins a tale as rich and colourful as a beggar's dream. Winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Novel and shortlisted for the Booker Prize 2008.

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