Book Review: Reclaim Your Heart by Yasmin Mogahed

A brilliant and profound piece of work!

There is humility and sincerity in Mogahed’s tone and writing style.  Her points are simple and logical; and she uses a considerable amount of Qur’an, hadith and personal experiences throughout to illustrate and explain her points which provided added depth and wisdom to the book. And I sense that she, like many of us, is still discovering more about herself – battling and confronting some of her own human weaknesses and trying to understand the world at large and to make sense of it all. This made much of what she writes about relevant to our lives.

This is one of those books you will want to savour and read from time to time because it challenges your existing views and offer new perspective on matters of  life. God, love and prayer to name a few. I found this element of the book very appealing. It also demanded self-introspection and reflection about the world at large; and to examine how we respond to challenges and obstacles we are confronted with in life on a daily basis.

We are reminded of our ultimate and primary purpose on this earth as human beings i.e. to serve and worship Allah (s.w.t), not only in prayer, but through our actions and the way we treat other human beings and to remember that He is our ultimate provider and sustainer of life . Therefore, we should try our best to strengthen our relationship with Him and to trust and rely on Him to pull us through our darkest days and to remember that with God all things are possible.  This was the common theme throughout the book.

I would recommend this book to every Muslim; especially those individuals who feel a bit lost in life – feeling like their life has no purpose or meaning.

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Book Review: The Beauty of Covering Up by Noorshin NG Abdullah

The Beauty of Covering up is the Author’s humble attempt to create more awareness of the importance  and virtues of observing hijab, not only the physical hijab, but also observing hijab in the way we think and act as Muslims and as human beings i.e. we must inculcate good manners and character; and have good thoughts which are pleasing to Allah (swt). I think this was the consistent message emphasised and encouraged throughout the book. 

I was impressed with its quality and presentation – hard cover with glossy patterned pages and each chapter is represented by a different colour, giving the book a very feminine and young feel. There is also a dust jacket which is great for protecting the cover, and both back and front flaps contain biographical information about the Author which I totally enjoyed reading. The book also comes with its own bag – a lovely pink bag of good quality.

The Author’s style of writing is simple and to the point making it a quick and easy read.  I got the sense of the Authors personality and voice, and there is some indication of her Chinese cultural background.  There are several quotes from the Holy Qur’an and Hadith in support of hijab along with personal stories  from Muslim women. And I think it was obvious that Abdullah wrote this book with the Muslimah revert/convert in mind. Hence, its simplicity and to the point style. The Author being a revert herself.

My favourite chapters were ‘You Are Beautiful!,‘Beauty from Within’ and ‘Striving Towards Modesty.’And I really liked and appreciated the fact that the Author pointed out that observing hijab is also a religious requirement for Muslim men, a message I feel has been overlooked by many Muslim leaders and writers on the subject of hijab. Then the final chapter has several design illustrations of the different ways Muslim women can observe the hijab like “youthful and active fun to wear design” ideas and “lose and dramatic Ethnic style in simple and bold prints and trimmings” ideas amongst others. 

I would recommend this book to any non-Muslim and new Muslimah reverts who desire basic knowledge and understanding about the hijab. 

About the Author

Nourishing Ng Abdullah has also written many articles for various Islamic non-governmental organisations (NGOs) over the years.

She resides in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where she is actively involved in several Islamic Non-Governmental Organisations and is currently, Head of the Agama Bureau of AMAED – Association of Muslim Apparel Entrepreneurs and Designers, Malaysia. She was invited by the President to share her knowledge and to gently guide designers and members to change their attitude and focus on transition towards producing proper Islamic attire.

She is also Vice President of Persatuan Darul Fitrah of Malaysia and Committee Member of Perkim Cawangan Bangsar as well as the Malaysian Chinese Muslim Association (MACMA) – all three NGOs offer support to reverts/converts to Islam.

For purchase details, please email: nnoorshin@yahoo.com 

Some of the Chapters in the book

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Book Review: The Rice Bag Hammock (The Aja Series) by Shaeeza Haniff

A delightful read!

Written primarily for children of any age group, culture or religion, this book is filled with rich and detailed illustrations depicting the Guyanese countryside; and the story is told in a simple lyrical or rhythmic voice, making it a light, quick and easy read. The story traces the journey and transformation of an ordinary burlap bag from once holding inside freshly harvested rice into a hammock which then becomes the centre of play and everyday family life and activities, like cousins gathering to make pointer broom or to swing whilst singing a song, “a place of rest for the sick”, “a place for a young couple to sit and enjoy the moonlight”, “a good hideout for a game of hide and seek or “an alone time place.”

If you’re Guyanese like me, you can appreciate the many roles a hammock may have within a Guyanese family, especially if you grew up in the Guyanese countryside. For me, this book brought back fond childhood memories of experiences with our family hammock – not the rice bag kind like the one in this book, but ours was made of heavy colourful cloth and tied under our house for good shade from the sun and for relaxation on a cool breezy afternoon with some cold coconut water, a cashew fruit or a bowl of cherries. I could just sink myself into that hammock to daydream and forget all my childish worries or take a break from play then rock myself to sleep. “Ahhh, those hammock days eh.”

This book also reminded me that sometimes it’s the simplest things in life that can bring us and those around us great joy and happiness and that everything has a purpose, even the most seemingly insignificant of things like a rice bag – who would have thought a rice bag could bring someone joy and comfort. I would recommend this book for any age group of children and even adults will enjoy it.

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Purchase online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble 

About the Author

Source: IndieReads.net

“Shaeeza Haniff is a Kindergarten Teacher in New York.

First born to the former Chief Education Officer of Guyana and his wife, Shaeeza grew up in the coastal region of tropical Guyana, South America. Her childhood was filled with memories of large family gatherings, dozens of cousins, aunts, uncles and many song filled hammock swings. Aja (northern Indian word for paternal grandfather) was prominent in her life until his death in 1987. Shaeeza along with her two sisters and one brother listened to stories of his many trips abroad filled with adventures and laden with every detail. His gift for storytelling seems to have passed down to Shaeeza as she has been writing and making up stories since she was ten years old.

She followed her father’s footsteps and became a Nursery School teacher at the age of 20, graduating top of her class [and] continued to teach after her move to New York City in a private school.

[Shaeeza] gets inspiration for her books from her family, memories of her childhood and her many students. Many of her stories are based on real events and incidents or conversations…”

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Book Review: Ramadan by Farah Kinani

Leila, the daughter of one of Kinani’s friends, was the inspiration for this book. Leila told Kinani what happened one day at School when she told her friends she would not be joining them for lunch. Her friends who at the time did not know nor understand anything about Ramadan,the Muslim holy month of fasting, encouraged Leila to hide and eat or have something to drink, and some even thought Leila was being punished or on a time out. Kinani, shocked by the children’s response, decided to visit Leila’s  school to give  a short talk about the holy month of Ramadan. Hence, this book is the Author’s attempt to educate and answer questions about Ramadan and to give mainly the non-Muslim reader, primarily children and teens, some idea of what Muslims do during Ramadan.

It is a well-informed piece of writing with several colourful illustrations, a glossary and Islamic calendar at the end of the book. The language and writing style is simple and very descriptive, making it easy for children to read and understand. Therefore, I  think  it’s a wonderful and smart choice of book for both Muslim and non-Muslim children alike to learn about Ramadan, its significance and the different rituals practised by Muslims during this month. I think it would also be very useful to Teachers who wish to educate their class of majority non-Muslim children about Ramadan. 

This book can be purchased online from Creative Education and Publishing.

About the Author

Farah Kinani

Farah Kinani spent several years as an active journalist in Morocco before marrying and moving to the United States where she and her husband started their family; they have two children. A few years later Ms. Kinani returned to writing as a freelance journalist and discovered her passion for blogging at Global Voices Online.

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Book Review: From my Sisters’ Lips by Na’ima B. Robert

A very informative, insightful and engaging read. And I agree with some readers who felt that the essence of the book or its core message was one of spiritual awakening and enlightenment.

From my Sisters’ Lips is a very honest and intimate account of the Author’s journey towards Islam and her experiences transitioning from her western lifestyle. The Author’s story is interwoven with anecdotes and insights from other Muslim women (mostly reverts) who candidly shared their journey and experiences as new Muslims with the Author. It is through their common love for Islam and common experiences as reverts that the Author forms a strong bond with these women – each shared knowledge of Islam as they knew it and gave support to each other every step of the way, painting a beautiful picture of sisterhood.

Na’ima and these women have defied common negative stereotypes and perceptions of Muslim women by the west by showing the positive impact Islam has on their lives as intelligent modern-day women from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds brought up and living in a western society with strong western influences and values.

The Author and these women deserve nothing less than to be admired for their strength and courage to embrace a way of life that is often heavily criticised and degraded by mainstream media. Not forgetting the strength and courage they demonstrated in dealing with their non-Muslim parents and other family members and friends.

The reader is also given a fresh perspective of Islam through the eyes of new reverts.

I would recommend this book to new reverts who are seeking added inspiration and encouragement or someone thinking of converting to Islam or a Muslim interested in reverts affairs.

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Book Review: Love in a Headscarf by Shelina Zahra Janmohamed

A brilliant read!

This book went beyond my expectations and I was hooked from the moment I read the first few pages. It offered more than just the Author’s journey to find love. But there are so many layers – love, history, Islam and culture which added depth to the book. So I was never bored. And I learnt things about the Author’s culture I never knew before which made the book even more interesting and at times quite entertaining, thanks to the Authors sense of humour.

Love in a headscarf is a memoir about the Author’s journey of finding a life partner – ‘The One’as the cover states, through an arranged marriage.

In the process, the Author endured endless matches with several suitors along the way, only to be disappointed, heart-broken and at times frustrated with the arranged marriage process. I felt like I knew her – such a reflective soul – quite like myself in that regard. And for that, I felt a connection with her. And even though I could barely relate to the experience of an arranged marriage, I couldn’t put this book down and I couldn’t wait to know what happened next.

I felt her every emotion. It was like I was right there with her every step of the way. When she cried, I cried; when she laughed I laughed;and when she was angry or sad, excited or disappointed, I felt the same.

I felt the Author is skilled at creating an image in the mind of the reader which makes it easy for the reader to picture themselves present wherever she is or to imagine a scene or place she is talking about. At least this was my experience as I read every page. It didn’t matter what she was talking about, I had images and scenes in my head of the people she met, the places she travelled, her family and the Buxom Aunties whom she often spoke of.

Her experiences during the arranged marriage process, helped her to find a deeper love and understanding of God and her Islamic faith. She also discovered more of who she was and gained new perspective on life and culture. She often reasoned with herself and questioned things she didn’t understand, in a bid to find answers, while trying to navigate between culture and religion and being true to her British culture and identity. Many of her thoughts about the way she sees the world and conversations she had with herself on her quest for Love, I can relate to, because I too share her views and have had similar conversations with myself on my own journey to find my ‘Prince Charming.’

And we see how she matures and gains new perspective on the many complexities religion and cultural norms presented to her and how she coped – never losing a sense of who she was. She also challenged common stereotypes and misconceptions British society had of Muslim women as well as the stereotypes and perceptions of Muslim women and their role within society and marriage that emerged from within the Asian Muslim community. She challenged and questioned her own culture when it collided with Islam. And I admired her parents immensely for guiding and supporting her through the marriage process – putting Islam, rather than culture/ tradition, first. There are also several issues or topics that could be extracted from this book for lively discussions and debates. For example, the wisdom from the Imaam I found in some cases to be thought-provoking. Like the concept of “love comes after marriage, “you know the meaning of love after you’ve made the commitment.” He believed that if love blossoms after the relationship has been formally agreed, then instead of putting all our focus on the ‘finding’ part, more of our emphasis should be on the ‘relationship’ part.

And Even though her Asian culture played a major role in her life and the life of her family; and the rest of the Asian community, the Islamic perspective took precedence. And so, she never separated herself from Islam throughout the book. It was the main source which directed her actions and decisions about many things.

This book may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I found it to be an interesting read and would therefore recommend it.

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Book Review: Love, Inshallah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women by Ayesha Mattu and Nura Maznavi

When I first came across this book, I felt a bit uneasy and I had a few concerns about its anthology because I think it’s good that many of us, myself included, are trying to defy and challenge stereotypes of Muslim women, but I wonder if  books of this nature are needed to accomplish this. Are we going a step too far? What purpose will such a book serve – if any? I also wondered what the writers intended by writing such a book? Did its Authors set out to send a message? And if so, what message were they intending to convey? Furthermore, if we do discuss issues such as sex or our love lives in the open – how much is too much? And are we as Muslim women, in the first place, allowed to have such open discussions? What’s the Islamic perspective and approach? What would be the appropriate forums? And what should these forums consist of or look like?  I was also curious about the women who contributed their stories. Why did they agree to participate? What were their initial feelings and thoughts about being a part of such a book? Did they have concerns about participating? And if so, what were those concerns? And now that the book is out, do they regret participating? How did their families react to the news of their participation?

Nevertheless, I was excited and surprised about a book of this nature – my curiosity would not allow me to ignore it. Such bold open revelations from Muslim women themselves – almost unheard of.  And I felt like while many Muslims are either naive to the sexual realities and challenges Muslim women face or those who would like to continue pretending that the realities this book highlights does not exist within Muslim communities, I think Love, InshAllah provides a reality check and a shocking revelation that Muslim women face some of the same carnal demons as non-Muslim women and that the realities of sexual relationships/ intimacy before marriage; and love and lust are not alien to Muslim women. Therefore, I think the Authors have definitely accomplished what they set out to do, and that for the Authors is an accomplishment and success in itself.

However, I think we need to go deeper. We need to not only challenge and defy stereotypes of Muslim women but we need to educate Non-Muslims about Islam and the status of women in Islam every chance we get. It is only through education that we can truly and effectively defy and challenge negative  stereotypes and perceptions of Muslim women.  And this is where I felt this book failed. Instead one learnt more about cultural expectations, rather than Islamic expectations.

A book of this nature would appeal to anyone – Muslim and Non-Muslim because the lifestyle practices of most of  the contributors as far as finding love and romance is concerned, does not represent the Islamic approach nor perspective on such matters. And, so, I was a bit  disappointed that there was barely any reflection of Islam in this book. I know the Authors pointed out that the book wasn’t intended to be an Islamic book, but the participants identified  themselves as Muslims, therefore, I was at least expecting to read more about a spiritual battle between practising religion versus succumbing to ones carnal desires and culture. I didn’t get the feeling that the writers regretted their unIslamic actions, but rather it seemed to me the opposite. However, I admired and respected these women for their raw honesty, for they owned their stories, embraced it and now sharing it with the world, from happily ever after stories, heart-breaks, being single, divorce, polygamy, sexuality and of course sex. Many of which are taboo subjects within Muslim communities.  Some of the stories were laugh out loud funny and well written like ‘The Birds,The Bees and my Hole’ by Zahra Noorbakhsh; and others, well, even though interesting, I quickly became bored. They reminded me why I never found romance novels appealing. Few of the stories I could relate to and I felt like some revelations and certain expressions of words used by some contributors were unnecessary – very explicit and raw, but I guess necessary in their own right for jaw dropping effect and to add some spice. I also felt the book lack diversity.

I particularly enjoyed and found interesting and inspiring the stories of some of the older contributors like Asiila Imani In the Chapter – THREE, we are given insight into her thoughts on polygamy. Her perspective and approach to polygamy always amazes me and causes me to pause and reflect on my own feelings about polygamy. Such a practical and sensible woman. She says on page 199, “even though I had heard that polygamy always ended in broken hearts, mayhem, and dismemberment, the idea of sharing a husband had never bothered me. I had never understood why women fought so much over men. If a man loved two women, the woman could either leave or share him. I believed women should be confident enough in themselves that they wouldn’t need to be the sole object of a man’ s affections. I knew there were men who loved and supported two families with equal devotion. To me, husband sharing sounded like a perfect blend of being married and single at the same time… In short, polygamy seemed not an unholy aberration, but a sacrosanct communion between a family and God…”

This is one of those books you’ll either love or hate – it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it sure makes an interesting read and highlights some of the 21st century challenges of some Muslim women in search of love. And it’s an opportunity to open discussions in our social circles on matters of sex, sexuality and faith within the Muslim community. Go get your copy today, grab a cup of tea and let’s start talking!

Related Articles

That Books is Controversial! (Love, Insha’Allah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women)

Challenging Sex Taboos in Muslim Communities

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Book Review: Grandpa and Grandma Come to Stay by Asma Zaman

I really enjoyed reading this book to my two-year old. I loved the message and the fact that it has few words and a lot of picture illustrations which makes it ideal for very young children, especially for those like my son who are too young to read, but are able to recognise and identify objects by name and to make associations. The pictures really helped to tell the story in a fun and simple way; and I think it can be used by parents to encourage children to not only help their grand parents and be kind to them, but also encourage them to be kind and help the elderly. So for these reasons, I highly recommend Grandpa and Grandma Come to Stay to parents with young children.

Purchase online at http://bloomingbookstore.webs.com

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Book Review: Sameerah’ s Hijab and the First Day of School by Isahah Janette Grant

This is a wonderfully written children’s book by Author Isahah Janette Grant.

I think it’s perfect for young hijabi Muslimahs attending a non – Islamic School or living in a predominantly non-Islamic community who may be nervous or scared of what other children might think or say about them, either because they have a different culture, race, religion or dress differently. There is also good illustrations on every page, of positive and colourful images, which convey the Author’s overall message of diversity and tolerance – through understanding and receiving the right information; and even your little one can follow the story.

Sameerah’s experience immediately reminded me of what my first day of school was like dressed in my hijab for the first time. I was just one year older than Sameerah when I began wearing the hijab, and like Sameerah, I too was excited about wearing my hijab to my new School. I particularly loved how Sameerah at such a tender age knew enough about her religion and her hijab that she was able to confidently and with warmth and kindness answer the questions of her curious classmates at her new school; and they quickly realised that they had more in common with Sameerah than they thought. This realisation helped to break the ice and was the beginning of a new bond of friendship.

Purchase Sameerah’s Hijab and the First Day of School online

from the Official Website for Sameerah’s Hijab or from the Book Publisher, Creative Education and Publishing

 

About the Author

309880_2262119710132_469341601_nIsahah Janette Grant is the Author of the children’s book, Sameerah’s Hijab and the First Day of School. She is a founding member of Muslimah Writers Alliance (MWA), an internationally based collaboration of Muslim women writers and advocates working to counter negative and inaccurate perceptions of members of the Muslim community.

Sister Isahah currently owns and runs Mindworks Publishing, a community based desktop publishing business, and is working on completing her first work of fiction. She also studied at Boston University in Massachusetts majoring in Print Journalism and currently resides in Missouri City, TX.

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Forum Discussion: Brutal by Nabila Sharma – Sexual Abuse, Parents’ Reaction

When children are abused by adults who are supposed to protect them from harm, their ability to trust and rely on adults may be shattered. In this case, Nabila feared no one would believe her if she told of the abuse, and that her family, especially her mother, would be “furious” with her for “speaking against a holy man. ”  She also believed that disclosing the abuse would destroy and bring shame on her family. And so, she remained silent about her abuse for years – thinking that it would be best to keep quiet.  Furthermore, Knowing that the Imam was well-loved and admired  by members of the Muslim community, made telling others about the abuse even more difficult for her as a child. After all, who would believe the words of a child against the words of a respected Muslim leader in the community?

She felt confused as to why she was singled out by the Imam, and felt a deep sense of betrayal by her family after they learnt of the abuse but did nothing about it to stand up to nor confront the Imam.  Nabila’s self-esteem and self – worth were affected. She began hating herself and became depressed and rebellious. And eventually resorted to self-harm as her way of coping with the abuse. And then later ended up living with a man who emotionally and physically abused her for over 10 years. In addition, she had huge intimacy and trust issues.

I was disappointed, but not surprised by Nabila’s parents’ reaction after they learnt of the abuse.  They could have sought professional help to support and help her to deal with the abuse but instead, they choose to remain silent to save face.  I was especially upset and disappointed by her dad, who as the man of the home did not confront the Imam nor reported the abuse. In fact,  all the men in Nabila’s life never stood up for her, men she loved-men she admired-men she trusted.

Nabila relates:

“My secret was out. I’d always longed to tell my parents but I’d never dreamt they would find out like this. For all those years I’d desperately hoped that someone would come along and rescue me, but they hadn’t. Now Mum knew everything and she blamed me, just as I had always feared she would. If only Wafa could have kept my secret then everything would have been okay. Would Mum tell Dad? What would he think of his beautiful little girl doing horrible, disgusting things with the imam? I’d brought shame on the family. I’d be cast out. No one would want me any more. Distraught, I ran into the house and bolted straight upstairs to my bedroom, where I buried my face in the pillow and began to cry bitterly. Downstairs I could hear my parents’ raised voices. Dad was shouting and Mum was wailing. Of course she would tell him. She told him everything. I tried to imagine what she was saying about me. I’d seen that look of disgust on her face. I only hoped that my brothers were out so that they wouldn’t hear this too. I wanted to die of shame. A couple of hours later Mum called me for dinner and I trudged warily downstairs. My brothers were round the table and I didn’t know who knew and who didn’t, which made things even worse. As soon as I walked into the dining room I wanted the ground to swallow me up. I felt all eyes on me, even though when I finally looked up Dad was staring straight ahead. My face was flushed as I took my place. Mum walked briskly into the room and slammed the plates in front of us. She looked red-eyed, as if she’d been crying…

I felt sick to the stomach that my secret was out. Mum took her place at the dinner table and we began to eat in silence. I sneaked a look at Dad and his face was tired and old, with sadness in his eyes – sadness and disappointment. I was the one who had caused that disappointment. I wondered whether they would talk to the imam about this. Surely I wasn’t the only one to blame? I was a child while he was the adult. The meal was excruciating. I hardly touched a scrap of food on my plate. Instead I pushed it around with my fork until it was all messed up. Suddenly Dad’s voice broke the silence. ‘Nabila, go to your room.’ I couldn’t wait to get out of there. Keeping my head bowed I left the room, but I hung around in the hall outside to listen to what was being said. ‘From now on, I don’t want you to wrestle with your sister any more,’ I heard Dad saying to my brothers. ‘She’s too old for it.’ We’d always enjoyed tussling, rolling around the ground, and Dad often joined in, so surely they would think it odd that he had banned it so suddenly? I waited for them to ask why, but no one said a word. Did that mean they knew? The silence made me feel worse. From now on I’d be treated differently by my own family, and I hated it. They were ashamed of me even though they probably only knew a small fraction of the story…

Although Dad was head of the household, it was Mum who was in charge. Dad was a typical Muslim husband – he went out to work so that he could provide for his family, but it was Mum’s job to keep us children under control. Dad only ever got involved when we’d done something really bad. But this was something really bad and now he knew. I despised the imam for what he’d done to me and my family. I wished he could be punished for it, but I would never tell anyone else if this was the kind of reaction I could expect. Without the support of my parents I would never be able to bring him to justice on my own. Far from taking my side, my parents felt I had brought shame on them and stained the family name. They wanted it swept under the carpet and kept quiet. I’d disgraced myself. This was my fault. It was all my doing and now I was going to be punished. I would be forever  alone with my secret…

my parents looked at me in a different way. I wasn’t their little girl any more and they treated me with a coldness that was palpable. I had wondered whether they might go to the imam and confront him, at least tell him what they thought of him, but they didn’t. Instead they did nothing at all. They couldn’t live with the shame. From now on, this would be a family secret. It had gone from being my secret to one the whole family shared. It was so unfair. I hadn’t asked to be chosen by the imam. It wasn’t my fault, yet I was being treated as if it was. 

I wanted Dad to storm into the mosque and punch the imam in the face. But he didn’t. His little girl was soiled goods. Now they’d have to keep the imam’s dirty secret for him because otherwise everyone would find out about me and then they’d never be able to marry me off. Fajr’s brother would run a mile. I would remain unmarriageable, like a lead weight hanging around their necks for the rest of their lives. Mum seemed to want me out of the house, out of her sight. I wondered if it was because I disgusted her, or because having me around was a constant reminder of what had happened. I didn’t know why she was acting the way she was but it made me feel much worse. Sometimes I felt like trying to explain to her that I had been a victim, and asking her what I could have done differently, but I was too embarrassed to bring it up. I felt angry with her as well because it was as if she was punishing me, as if I hadn’t been punished enough by what I’d been through. There was nothing I could do to make amends. Well, maybe only one thing: I upped the self-harm to the next level. I’d stopped washing myself obsessively the day I left the mosque but now I began slashing myself with razors again. The torment never stopped. I shredded my legs to ribbons, being careful to cut where no one would see the scars…”

Questions:

  1. What was your reaction /feelings towards Nabila’s parents when they found out she was sexual abused?
  2. Did you agree with them to keep the abuse a secret or did you feel strongly that they should have reported the abuse and or confronted the Imam?

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Have you bought your copy of Brutal as yet?

If you haven’t purchased your copy as yet there’s still time to do so. I just bought the kindle version from Amazon.  Read more about this month’s read here and here.

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The Fog is Lifting Documentary Series, Part 3: Islam in Women

Cross post

Article by Muslimah Voices Contributor, Isahah Janette Grant.

More than 75% of Western converts to Islam are women and many are beginning to ask why females are turning to a religion that has been labeled by much of the media as oppressive. Fortunately, educators and trailblazers in the world of film making are carving a path of true representations of Islam and they are going straight to the mouths of the very women being drawn to this beautiful religion.

One such visionary, Imam Fadel Soliman, Director of Bridges Foundation, an international organization dedicated to creating tolerance and facilitating peacemaking all over the world, has taken up the task of examining the phenomena of Muslim women converts and is in the stages of putting the final touches on the new documentary entitled, Islam in Women, part three of The Fog is Lifting series. The Islam in Women documentary interviews female converts to Islam, a non-Muslim female professor from Al-Azhar University and a professor at the Harvard University Divinity School to address the reasons behind why Islam attracts more women than men while simultaneously refuting many of the misconceptions about women in Islam, their rights and their responsibilities.

Women converts from different racial and ethnic backgrounds and countries have been filmed and provide their personal perspectives on why they have chosen Islam as their religion as well as divulging some of the blessings they have received and challenges that they have faced since accepting Islam.  White, Black, Indian, and Chinese women tell their stories and range from countries such as Belgium, Britain, Greece, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, Germany, USA, the Netherlands and Sweden.

As indicated, this documentary is the third part of The Fog is Lifting series of films. Imam Soliman initiated the process of developing the films after the horrific attacks of 9/11 in 2001 and has said, “As a survivor of the NY attacks (I was supposed to be in the towers by 8:30 am but was delayed by being unable to get a taxi and had to change my plans) I have seen the USA  pre 9/11 and post 9/11. Prior to the attacks of 9/11 people were more accepting of Muslims but since the attacks people have begun to rely upon stereotyping  more frequently. I believe that ignorance is the enemy and that when people become more educated the less they fight.”

Bridges Foundation aims at connecting people by building bridges with the training of Muslim speakers and presenters on how to present Islam. They believe that educating each other about our differences is the best way to link people, to increase their tolerance towards each other, and to facilitate the peacemaking process all over the world.

Imam Soliman, Director of Bridges Foundation, has presented many such workshops explaining Islamic beliefs and says, “I’ve conducted three main lectures to non-Muslims, the first is a general discussion about Islamic beliefs and concepts, the second is about Jihad and Terrorism explaining that the two concepts are not equal to each other and are actually opposite  to each other, and the third is about the status of women in Islam. The more I gave these lectures, the more I wished to make them more accessible to as many people as possible and I believe turning them into three documentaries was the best way to achieve that aim.”

The first documentary titled, Islam in Brief, has been translated into 30 languages, including the Hebrew language. Part Two of the series isJihad on Terrorism and has been translated into 16 languages. More than 300,000 copies of the series DVDs have been distributed to Congressmen, Senators, politicians, professors, faculty and staff of learning institutions, and to Western diplomats in Egypt and world-wide. Additionally,  over 100,000 copies have been distributed throughout the U.S. and other countries at churches, universities and government agencies like the American Department of Defense. Copies of the DVD’s have also been made available at international events, such as the Frankfurt International Book Fair. Both parts of the series are available for free on the Bridges Foundation YouTube channel.

Muslimah Writers Alliance DirectorAishah Schwartz, has stated, “It was an honor to participate in the Jihad on Terrorism segment of the Bridges Foundation Islam in Brief series of movies and I commend Imam Soliman for his undying efforts to educate not only Muslims but the non-Muslim community as well about the true teachings of Islam.”

Read More here . . .

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New Book Release! The Azurean Trilogy (Spiritual Sci-Fi Novel) by Fatimah Ashaela Moore Ibrahim

Author:

Fatimah Ashaela Moore Ibrahim

Book Description:

What happens when the Earth dies, but humans get a second chance? Some try to maintain new lines of peace, but darker forces threaten to push mankind into repeating history. What will happen in this inevitable battle between good and evil? Find out in this exciting new Spiritual/Science-Fiction Trilogy.

Purchase Online at create space or Amazon (paperback and kindle versions available).

Read a preview of each chapter on Wattpad.

Other books written by this Author: Yaya and the Mystery Squad (Multicultural Science Mystery Series for Girls) and I love my Hijab (The story of a Muslim girl’s first day to public school wearing the Muslim headscarf). For purchase information, please visit the Akifah Multimedia Productions website.

About the Author

Fatimah received her BA in Advertising from Boston University. She worked in animation for a number of years before deciding to become a freelance artist where she could focus on projects for the Ummah. She began illustrating books for Creative Education and Publishing shortly thereafter. She is the Art Director and Lead Animator for her business, Aakifah Creative Multimedia Productions and has animated television programs like Hey Moni, O’Grady, and Home Movies with Soup 2 Nuts Productions. She is also the Author of  several children books for which she did all the picture illustrations.

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Forum Discussion:Book – A Walk Through Life: Issues and Challenges through the Eyes of a Muslim Woman by Norma Kassim

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Kassim invites readers to:
- revisit their roles through
- be responsible and accountable for their choices of life
- reawaken the need to increase their self-esteem and self-respect

The Author provides a lot of food for thought in this book. My copy is riddled with black ink, black lines and curly brackets. Whoo! it’s a mess! Anyway, I want to start off with an excerpt from page 11 (cont’d on pg. 12) – 2nd, 3rd and 4th paragraphs, especially para. 3 and 4. In paragraph 4, she poses several questions, which I would like to be the focus of our first discussion of this book in addition to the rest of the excerpt.

If you haven’t read the book, no problem, the  questions below can be discussed without you having read the book. And insha’Allah when the Muslimah Voices TV (via YouTube) videos get on the way I hope to further explore those same questions with a panel of sisters and or Muslimah scholars, insha’Allah.

Kassim writes,

“There is an also existing fear that freedom of thought would lead astray the Muslims, some take a literal stand in their interpretation of the Quranic text, strictly imposing limitations for women while taking a more benevolent and liberal approach to men. Consequently with the historical decline of the traditional Muslim society, many developed an approach for circumspection and cautiousness over the demands of positive pursuits concerning the social conduct over women. Fundamentals of equality and fairness enjoined by Islam then, have been overlooked at the expense of women…

It is good to be reminded that feminist movement in the west was the result of injustices meted to their women, while we have always been proud to proclaim women emancipation through Islam. Are we now observing the same phenomena happening to the Muslim societies worldwide, the inevitability of a revolt against the plight of the Muslim women, by the women? This will take place if the continued attitude of some Muslim Scholars and leaders goes on in adopting discriminatory interpretations of Islamic teachings that concern women.

[Note the following questions she poses] We have to ask ourselves whether the laws (i.e. referring to the ones derive by mankind through their understanding and interpretation of Islamic teachings) that are in place in many Muslim countries are not adequate to protect women or they are adequate but it is the implementation that is at fault. Or is it due to the disintegration and weak relationship that Man has with his Creator which has led us to this predicament?

What are your thoughts and reactions to this excerpt and the above questions ? 

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Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life by Melody Moezzi is Now Available for Purchase!

Author: Melody Moezzi

Book Description (Source: Amazon)

With candor and humor, a manic-depressive Iranian-American Muslim woman chronicles her experiences with both clinical and cultural bipolarity.

Melody Moezzi was born to Persian parents at the height of the Islamic Revolution and raised amid a vibrant, loving, and gossipy Iranian diaspora in the American heartland.  When at eighteen, she began battling a severe physical illness, her community stepped up, filling her hospital rooms with roses, lilies, and hyacinths.
But when she attempted suicide and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, there were no flowers. Despite several stays in psychiatric hospitals, bombarded with tranquilizers, mood-stabilizers, and antipsychotics, she was encouraged to keep her illness a secret—by both her family and an increasingly callous and indifferent medical establishment. Refusing to be ashamed, Moezzi became an outspoken advocate, determined to fight the stigma surrounding mental illness and reclaim her life along the way.
Both an irreverent memoir and a rousing call to action, Haldol and Hyacinths is the moving story of a woman who refused to become torn across cultural and social lines. Moezzi reports from the front lines of the no-man’s land between sickness and sanity, and the Midwest and the Middle East. A powerful, funny, and poignant narrative told through a unique and fascinating cultural lens,Haldol and Hyacinths is a tribute to the healing power of hope, humor, and acceptance.
Purchase online at Amazon.
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Listen to her interview with Frank Stasio here: http://wunc.org/post/breaking-silence-mental-illness

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“When Bigotry Came to My Book Reading… “

Jennifer Zobair

Muslimah Writer, Jennifer Zobair shares her experience promoting her debut novel, Painted Hands, at her first solo book reading event. Here is an excerpt from her article:

“It happened. A heckler. At my first solo book reading.

I was promoting my debut novel, Painted Hands, at Cambridge’s Porter Square Books. Though I was an attorney in a past life, I was ridiculously nervous. It’s one thing to participate in moot court, or lead a seminar on contract negotiation. But to stand before a crowd of strangers and read your work–the pages that you have poured your heart and soul into for years? When you’re new to it, it can border on terrifying.

What got me past the nerves was this: As a Muslim woman, I have something to say.

In the weeks since my book released, I’ve heard from many readers, but two stand out. The first was a young, professional Muslim woman who loved my book because she’d finally found characters in a novel she could relate to. The second was a non-Muslim reader who did not believe that characters like mine could exist.

It’s such a broad, sweeping, erasing sentiment. And it is all too common.

I wrote Painted Hands in part because I think the image of Muslim women in this country is so absurdly narrow as to prevent true understanding, and also because I believe everyone has the right to see her experience reflected in literature.

I spoke about those reasons at Porter Square Books, and read an excerpt, and then held my breath to see if anyone would ask a question. A middle-aged woman who’d come early and taken a second-row seat raised her hand. I could have hugged her.

I don’t think she would have hugged back.

Her question began benignly enough, expressing curiosity about why I’d chosen to write about privileged Muslim women in America. Soon, it degenerated. She said her parents had been harmed by Muslims in another country, that she had studied Islam and “quite a bit of the Qur’an.” Islam, she lectured me, demanded brutality and beheadings and the complete subjugation of women.

The stereotypical narrative of Muslim women, it turns out, had a pretty good seat at my reading.

And this is what we face every day. We face those who will impute specific experience to the whole, who refuse to admit that cultural factors are ever at play, who don’t acknowledge that harm has been done by and to members of every faith. We witness reckless pundits on sensational “news” programs who refuse to engage intellectually the arguments of Muslim scholars like Asma Barlas and Amina Wadud and Fatima Mernissi. We wait for the subway under posters calling us “savages.”

And we endure those who will come early to our book readings not to hear us, but to advance intolerant agendas.” Read the rest of the article here …

 

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Book Finds!

Painted Hands by Jennifer Zobair

Book Description

Muslim bad girl Zainab Mir has just landed a job working for a post-feminist, Republican Senate candidate. Her best friend Amra Abbas is about to make partner at a top Boston law firm. Together they’ve thwarted proposal-slinging aunties, cultural expectations, and the occasional bigot to succeed in their careers. What they didn’t count on? Unlikely men and geopolitical firestorms.

When a handsome childhood friend reappears, Amra makes choices that Zainab considers so 1950s—choices that involve the perfect Banarasi silk dress and a four-bedroom house in the suburbs. After hiding her long work hours during their courtship, Amra struggles to balance her demanding job and her unexpectedly traditional new husband.

Zainab has her own problems. She generates controversy in the Muslim community with a suggestive magazine spread and friendship with a gay reporter. Her rising profile also inflames neocons like Chase Holland, the talk radio host who attacks her religion publicly but privately falls for her hard. When the political fallout from a terrorist attempt jeopardizes Zainab’s job and protests surrounding a woman-led Muslim prayer service lead to violence, Amra and Zainab must decide what they’re willing to risk for their principles, their friendship, and love.

Women’s Writings and Muslim Societies by Sharif Gemie

Book Description

Western and Muslim women writing about the Muslim experience in the Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and the United States. In addition, Sharif Gemie looks at how women’s writing about Muslim societies has changed over the past century, from the playful and humorous works by pioneering female travelers like Freya Stark and Edith Wharton, to more recent accounts marked by fear, hostility, and even disgust, such as Azar Nafisi’s Reading Lolita in Tehran and Betty Mahmoody’s Not Without My Daughter. Gemie also identifies and examines a new wave of female Muslim writers whose work touches on problems of integration, identity crises, and the changing nature of Muslim cultures.

This book is especially recommended for those interested in women’s studies, Muslim studies, and comparative literature.

Does Islam Oppress Women?

By Lopa Hussain And Adnan Khan

About The Book

Nothing has received more vilification from commentators and writers across the world than the issue of Islam’s view on women. Images of fully covered women, with veils across their faces, leap to mind whenever the media discusses the issue. The treatment of women in any society has become a key benchmark measurement to its progress so when the Muslim world is assessed it miserably fails on the standard Western tests ranging from the treatment of women to their involvement in society. This has led to a number of ferocious attacks on Islam: which includes the continuous vilification campaign against Islam and its view on women, the banning of hijab and so on. Whilst there are some sincere misconceptions in the West with regards Islam and women at the same time the hatred against Islam is a consistent feature in Western newspapers and magazines.

This misconception however is not just restricted to the West, across the Muslim world there are many misconceptions with regards to Islamic male-female relations and the Shari’ah rules with regards to women. Ideas such as women being completely cut off from any societal role, the women’s voice being considered awrah, forced marriages, female genital mutilation, honour killings, thousands of women in the subcontinent hospitalized each year from nitric acid thrown onto their faces for refusing a marriage suitor or over dowry or marital disputes. Many view that the Shari’ah has subjugated women to their husband and father without any rights – these are just some of the cultural practices that have come to be seen as Islamic. As a reaction to this some women have turned to the West and have taken on the decades long struggle of becoming man’s equal. The aim of this booklet is to as assess the struggle Western women undertook to achieve their rights as this continues to be held as the benchmark for women and societies across the world. The Islamic social system will then be looked at to assess what Islam actually says about women, how it regulates male-female relations and its suitability as a model for women and society.

Dubai Wives

By Zvezdana Rashkovich

About the Book

Dubai Wives follows eight women as their lives come together at poignant intervals.

We meet Jewel, a beautiful but frustrated wife to her powerful Emirati husband, Tara, a devout Muslim with a passionate secret, and Liliana, a tragic dancer in the seedy clubs of Dubai. A stirring tale encompassing tradition, identity, and faith, Dubai Wives takes the reader into a hidden world behind the walls of lavish mansions and into the desperate back alleys of Dubai; from the hills of Morocco to the gloomy English countryside and from the slums of India to the glittering lights of the Burj Al Arab.

Zvezdana Rashkovich presents an absorbing picture of the secret life of Dubai’s residents, underscoring its intense glamour with emptiness and duplicity. Rashkovich examines the universal questions of identity, religion, race, and social status against the backdrop of Dubai’s cultural dynamism and traditional moral code. With its exotic setting, distinct characters, and captivating plot, Dubai Wives takes readers on a journey of friendship, love, betrayal and murder revealing a city where no one is who they seem to be… and where everything is possible.

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Books and other Written Material by Muslim Women Lack Variety …

writing-590x398For me personally, I think generally, the books and written material available to Muslim women written by Muslim women for Muslim women lack variety.

Muslim women tend to write mostly about  motherhood, family, marriage and hijab unlike our male counterparts who write on a wider scale covering issues of spirituality, business and politics to name a few. And while there is nothing wrong with writing about family, motherhood, marriage or hijab, we also need to capture other models of Muslim women who do not necessarily fit the generally accepted mold or ideal and those who have much to say but are not given the chance for whatever reason to have their voices heard. And so, I often find it a challenge relating to some of the characters written about because they do not reflect my experiences as a Black Muslim woman growing up in a predominantly Christian society with Muslim convert parents and being the only Muslim family living amongst non-Muslim Christian relatives and in-laws. And I find that most of the characters and narratives written about are written in a way that’s safe and too familiar. I may be wrong, but it’s as if the writer has to make a deliberate effort to write in such a way that does not offend the Muslim community or to go against generally accepted opinions; and as a result only limited experiences of Muslim women are captured and are written about.

Muslim women are also Revolutionists, Business women, Politicians, Lawyers, Humanitarians, Human Rights Activists and many more. So why limit ourselves? I would like to see more Muslim women writing books, articles and blogs that address taboo issues, issues of identity, race, religion, business, inance, war, politics, sexual matters and abuse to name a few. If not in books, in articles or on blogs. Some alternative means or forum needs to be available for Muslim women to be able to express and discuss issues and challenges which affect them, in an environment that allows them to freely do so without fear of ridicule, isolation or rejection; and to receive practical advice, support, guidance and counselling if necessary. And what about the experiences of our women who have reverted to Islam? There are many reverts within our communities that are contributing a wealth of talent and knowledge and have interesting anecdotes to share of their experiences as new Muslims. But why aren’t more Muslim women writing about these subjects?  And are Muslim women really reading books written by other Muslim women?

I couldn’t help but think that perhaps it’s a huge challenge for Muslim women Authors to write about Muslim characters for both a Muslim and non-Muslim market. On the one hand, trying not to offend Muslims and on the other hand, being cautious not to present Muslim women in a stereotypical way, more so because Muslim women are so often portrayed in a negative way and because Islam is often criticised and put under a microscope, especially with regards to the Islamic perspective on issues of gender. So I decided to do some research online and came across an interesting article written by Author, Zvezdana Rashkovich on her experiences writing about Muslim women characters. Her article conformed some of my suspicions.

In the first few paragraphs, Rashkovich says,

“Writing about Muslim characters, Muslim women in particular, must be one of the trickiest subjects to write about. Especially in this specific time when everything about women in Islam seems to be dissected, probed and questioned. 

No matter the conflict or the aspirations of the protagonist. One thing stands out immediately: she is Muslim. Hence, she is different.

Anything these characters do or say, their mistakes as well as their accomplishments, is somehow already tainted as a result of a preconceived misunderstanding on the part of a large portion of Western readers. These readers (and writers) through no fault of their own, have certain notions firmly etched in their minds – Muslim women DO so and so, they do NOT do so and so, etc…”

What a challenge then for a writer to sift through all the information and capture the authenticity of a Muslim character (not necessarily Arab) in stories or novels.

I was raised by a Muslim stepfather, married a Muslim and have numerous Muslim friends. But even as a Muslim convert myself, I have agonized over the protagonists in my novel.

Could I permit the scarf wearing convert Muslim, a seemingly perfect mom and wife, to engage in a torrid affair? So what if she is Muslim or not, one would ask? Aren’t these characters just as eligible of a true portrayal? Why are Muslim women represented as downtrodden, lower class citizens? Why is the fact that they choose to wear a veil seen as a sign of oppression by many?

What’s your opinion on this post? Is there a subject Matter you would like Muslim Women Authors and Writers to Write about or more about?  And what are your thoughts about the points made in this post?

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July 22, 2013 · 1:41 pm

Who is your Favourite Muslimah Author and why?

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Heavenly Bites: The Best of Muslim Home Cooking by Karimah bint Dawood

Yum! Yum! Here is another cook book to add to your library. I love the look of the cover!

Muslim Cooking

Book Description

Heavenly Bites is the first multinational Muslim cookbook that features the best of Muslim cooking to be found from Morocco to Bangladesh, served up by Karimah Bint Dawood, the TV presenter and cook and convert to Islam. With the ever-growing popularity of “Eastern” cooking in the Western world, this book assembles together some of the best-loved dishes, featuring 50 recipes for soups, salads, snacks and starters, smoothies, main courses and sweets.

Available:

About the Author

With an eclectic Asian, African, Scottish and English heritage, Karimah is widely travelled and well-versed in global cuisines and cultures. She has worked as a make-up artist for Gucci, Revlon and Bride magazine, and has travelled and worked as a fashion model around the world, during which she developed her interest in world cooking. After converting to Islam, Karimah put down her brushes and white stilettos for a while and picked up the henna cone and the Qur’an. She is now a well-known veil-wearing cook who has presented her cooking on Islam Channel’s “Ramadan Bites” and in her forthcoming “Heavenly Bites” on Ramadan TV, both on Sky.

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Turning the Tide: Reawakening the Woman’s Heart and Soul by Suma Din

I think this book will compliment Reclaim Your Heart by Yasmin Mogahed, nicely. Thanks for sharing Nazi!

Book Description:
Suma takes the reader on a journey through the stages of life, from the inception of the soul to the end of life on earth. Words of wisdom, guidance and compassion from the Qur’an and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad pave the way, and inspire the reader to reawaken their heart and soul. With contemporary thoughts and voices flowing through the book, this voyage is one of contemplation, discovery and self-knowledge.

Purchase online from the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) or Amazon 

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The Ramadan Survival Guide by Mubarakah Ibrahim

SPIRAL_BOUND_Ramadan Survival Guide E-book

“O you who believe! Fasting is prescribed for you,

as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may

guard (against evil).”

The Holy Qur’an: Surah Baqara, Chapter 2 Verse 183

This e-book provides practical health and fitness advice for observing a healthy and safe fast during this holy month of ramadan. Here is some of what you can expect to find inside:

  • One food you MUST feed your family to increase energy, supply more anti-oxidants than a full cup of blueberries and keep them full longer.
  • The 3 teas breastfeeding moms should drink while fasting.
  • The only 3 Exercises you will need all month to maintain your strength and fitness level
  • Advice for parents with teen kids who are fasting.
  • One thing you need to prevent hunger for 8-12 hours
  • Discover the key micro-nutrient that will prevent you from losing muscle during Ramadan, just to gain even more weight after Ramadan is over.

And more …

 A note from the Author

“As-salamualaikum

My name is Mubarakah Ibrahim.  I am a Muslim American wife and mom of 4 teenagers, personal trainer, and health and fitness coach.  And every year I get hundreds of question on my Facebook Fan Page and in my inbox with Muslims who are concerned about fasting during the month of Ramadan.  That is why I decided to write this book and decided to release it in the form of an e-book because the information is too important and too urgent not to give every Muslim an opportunity for immediate access to it.”

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Purchase your copy here for instant access…

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How to Nurture, Manage and Discipline Your Muslim Child with Special Needs e-book

Look what I found today. Isn’t this great – a book which focusses on the special needs child from an Islamic Perspective?  I hope those of you with special needs children find it very useful.

Title: How to Nurture , Manage and Discipline your Muslim Child with Special Needs. I hope those of  with special needs children find it very helpful.

Author

Grandma Jeddad

Description

Finally a book on special needs with an Islamic perspective! This supportive and instructive parenting book covers a range of disabilities including, Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Cognitive Disability (mental retardation) and more. Grandma Jeddah touches taboo subjects such as mental illness, medication for behavior modification, and oppositional defiant behavior. She explains that parents need to be ultra understanding and vigilant when disciplining these types of children. She tells how it is easy for parents to go overboard when trying to correct the behavior of children with special needs. She explains why special children require special treatment during the disciplinary process.

Grandma Jeddah acknowledges that raising children with special needs places more than the average demands on the entire family. She provides loads of successful discipline techniques mothers can use to better manage the behavior of their children with special needs.

What’s Inside?

  • Coping with non-constructive comments from family, friends, and others
  • Helping children develop a proper Islamic perspective of their disability
  • Finding successful discipline methods
  • Understanding the challenges siblings experience

Grandma Jeddah also, helps you find constructive solutions to your most common questions such as:

  • How does Quran and hadith reference disabilities?
  • Should you use medication for behavior management?
  • What actions should you avoid when your child is in a rage?
  • What are the best practices for managing aggressive behavior?

This book can be ordered from the Author’s website, and you can check out her other e-books here.

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