Reviews

2012 Autumn Edition of IWA Magazine

Allah to Z by Sam’n Iqbal. Reviewed by Saba Nagash.

Illustrator: Lina Safar

Publisher: Broyhill Publication LLC; June 1, 2012

Theme: Islam, Muslim, Alphabets

Age: 3 and up

Opening:
A is for Allah, the Most Gracious One.
Allah made the earth, the moon and the sun.
The birds and the bees, the wind in the trees.
Allah created for you and me.

Book Summary:
From Allah to Zakat, children of all faiths will delight in these 26 rhymes that introduce Islam in a fun, contemporary way. Coupled with bright illustrations from award-winning artist Lina Safar, each page will capture kids’ attention and open a window into Muslim culture and history.

Resources:
Visit the author website for a variety of coloring pages to download and color.

Why I like this book:
This was a really nice alphabet book! The first of its kind, to be honest, that I have read. As a teacher, I read many different alphabet books that have a range of themes (animals, objects, food, etc) but this one is unique to Islamic culture. The illustrations are fun, warm and whimsical. It is definitely a must have in any Muslim child’s home library. More importantly, it can even be used in a non-Muslim setting be it home, library or school to help introduce the meaning of a variety of Islamic vocabulary to children and adults from different backgrounds. I highly recommend this book!

>>>>

Continuing the ‘Islamic Fairy Tales’ series, Fawzia Gilani’s Snow White: An Islamic Tale, is soon to be released.

Kube Publishing releases details of the forthcoming book:

Involving the power of a djinn, poisoned dates, seven dwarf sisters-in-faith and a mysterious old peddler woman in the woods wearing a face veil, this lyrically-told story offers a unique twist on this fairy tale, whilst keeping the classic much-loved story intact, that includes a hateful and vain stepmother, a considerate huntsman and a charming prince.

Set in the heady snow-strewn woodlands of Anatolia by the illustrator Shireen Adams, this tale of flight, friendship and forgiveness is richly detailed, and beautifully brought to life.

 Once released, IWA Magazine will review the book in a future issue.

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2012 Summer Edition of IWA Magazine

Reviews Buzz

Book Review by Amel Abdullah – Reunion, authored by Linda D. Delgado aka Widad

Yesterday, my daughter received her copy of Reunion, the fifth book in Sr. Widad’s Islamic Rose Books series. Is it good? Well, let’s just say she is already asking if there is going to be a sixth book. She loves, loves, loves these books.

On my part, I credit these books with teaching her to read in English (my daughter is a native speaker of Arabic). Sr. Widad packs her books with lots of exciting situations and a rich, varied vocabulary. It makes me so happy when my daughter comes to me asking what different words and phrases mean.

The books have taught her to have respect for different cultures and religions, and this is perhaps the best part.

Masha’Allah, Sr. Widad has a natural talent for connecting to children in her books. May Allah SWT reward her and make it possible for her to continue writing for a long time to come.

If you are not familiar with this series of books, I highly recommend it for your children and for your Islamic school libraries. Eid is just around the corner, and the gift of reading is one of the best gifts you can give.

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2012 Spring Edition of IWA Magazine

In this edition there are two excellent book reviews: A Book for Living, Loving, and Learning …..By  Dilara Hafiz and Why I Like This Book by Saba Negash.

A Book for Living, Loving, and Learning …..By  Dilara Hafiz

You don’t need to wait for special occasions to acquire Grandma Lives With Usby Nazli Currim…. it’s the perfect book to share with your children, parents, grandparents, friends, your child’s classroom or library, any day of the year!  This charming story relates the loving relationships within a Muslim family, especially the ties between a granddaughter and her grandmother.  Illustrated beautifully by Kadhima Ren Tung with watercolor pictures on every page- this book is sure to capture the attention of children as well as adults.  Feedback from the mother of a 5 year-old Canadian girl eloquently conveys the magical nature of this book, when she relates, “She got really excited when I read the word “Nani”.  She was in such awe of the little girl, Imaan, who got her very own Quran for her birthday.  I think she was happy to be able to relate to a book in that way, and the way the girl in the story loves and cares for her Nani struck a chord within her.”

Parents too sigh a of relief upon finally finding that book which balances Islamic morals and values in an easy-to-read format which is both enjoyable and completely relevant to the American Muslim lifestyle. Quranic quotes and Hadiths as well as Islamic terms are sprinkled interestingly throughout the story-about taking care of your elders when they are old and weak.  As one Muslim mother puts it, “My husband and I also really liked the message of the story- about taking care of your elders.  In North America, where nursing homes and senior citizen centers are so common, it is specially nice to have a book by Muslims that tells everyone about Islam’s caring nature and strong family values.”  Similar bonds and values exist in most families globally and thus makes this book compatible and acceptable to all caring families.  

Nazli Currim is an experienced teacher who has tackled a timely subject in a loving manner-as families struggle to combine their independent lifestyles with the challenges of aging parents-she has provided an ideal Muslim template for families to incorporate.  Her experience with children is evident in the age appropriate elementary school vocabulary; however older children will also find much to embrace in this feel-good story of family harmony.

In a time when so many stories have little relevance to American Muslims… it is a relief to discover Grandma Lives With Us, for it gives hope to all of us adults out there…. Perhaps our children will one day welcome us into their hearts and homes as lovingly as Nazli’s characters do, Insha’Allah.  You can find Grandma Lives With Us on www.nazlicurrim.com, or contact the author directly at shonzbooks@gmail.com . The book retails for $16.95 with free shipping and handling.

Reviewer Dilara Hafiz is the co-author of The American Muslim Teenager’s Handbook.

Why I Like This Book by Saba Negash

Moon Watchers: Shirin’s Ramadan Miracle by author Reza Jalali

  • Suitable for: 6 years and up
  • Themes/Topics: Cultures, Family traditions, Religious holidays, Sibling rivalry, Fasting, Ramadan, Making ethical decisions  

Muslims around the globe observe Ramadan, from Africa, Asia, the Americas and across Europe and Australia. Moon Watchers is the story of an Iranian family and how they observe the month in their home in the US. It reflects Iranian culture beautifully and accurately. Growing up I had the wonderful opportunity to spend a couple of Ramadans with an Iranian family during their stay here. The family had children the same ages as my two younger sisters and me. This story brought back quite of few good memories of sleepovers and Iftars (the dinner meal) and grand Eids (End of Ramadan festival) and gifts.

Shirin is your average Muslim child in every Muslim household during the month of Ramadan. She wants to partake in the holiday and fast with the rest of the family. Her problem? She is too young. Most families restrict their young children from fasting until they are old enough to understand what fasting is. But like every little Muslim child I know, Shirin doesn’t think that is hardly any ‘real’ reason why she can’t fast like all the big people, including her older brother, Ali. The story touches on something EVERY child goes through, wanting to partake in family traditions and rituals. It doesn’t matter whether its Ramadan, Christmas, Deepavali or Hanukah, children want to be a part of the festivities. Another universal theme of the book is sibling rivalry. What child has NOT had to deal with that! I have two younger sisters and two older brothers!! 😀 I love that the story ends with Ali, Shirin’s older brother being nice to her and that she keeps his secret. The story begins with sighting the moon, which is very important to Muslims. The new moon signals the beginning and end of the month. I love that the moon remains a part of the story. The illustrations beautifully capture the feel and warmth of the family and their traditions from their prayer rugs, traditional dishes and religious artifacts and my favorite, the picture of the “hundreds of tiny silvery pieces.” There aren’t hundreds of pieces but the illustration is beautiful!!! J

The story also highlights the many aspects of Ramadan, fasting and doing good deeds, something I feel is lacking in many religious holidays where consumerism is pushed rather than the more spiritual aspect of the holiday like being and doing good for others, family and community. Shirin learns that doing good things for others is just as important and apart of Ramadan as is the fasting. I also found that it accurately reflected the physical state of most people who fast, tiredness, the caffeine withdrawal for the coffee and tea drinkers, jitters for smokers, and more. Personally, I am a habitual snacker. If it is in the house, I snack. During the first week of Ramadan I almost always have to catch myself from just popping something in my mouth because it is there!

For kids just starting out fasting, cheating is natural. They are not used to the hunger. I don’t know of any person who fasted as a kid and did not grab something while no one was looking!!! LOL! I love that Ali is not scolded in the story. Not even by his little sister gets on him about cheating during the fast. I remember once when I was around eleven or twelve, we were at a park and I told my mom I was hot and wanted to put some water on my face! Ha, water on my face indeed! (In my defense, it WAS a hot day :D) but I know my mom knew better as I went many, many times to that water fountain. But you know, that is how kids learn, over the years, I fought that urge and at age 15 fasting was no longer hard for me. So, don’t worry Ali, you will get there one day!

Saba Negash is a teacher of over 15 years with a passion for reading and writing children’s stories that engage, entertain and educate. Her blogs are dedicated to sharing her experiences and passions as a teacher and a writer. For more reviews of quality books to share with your family, visit her blog: The Family-Ship Experience and Of Thoughts and Words.

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2011 Fall Edition of IWA Magazine

Ode to my Architect, G_d: Verse and Sound of an Islamic Art by UzmaMirza

“In an era of increasing pessimism, the poetry and images in this impressive volume offer a refreshing vision of spiritual vitality and environmental renewal…infused with modern concerns…revealed to be more relevant than ever…The optimism of Mirza’s artwork can give us reason to hope for a future of greater harmony between humankind and the natural world.”
– Noor Borbieva, Ph.D, Harvard University; Associate Professor, Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne

“A unique collection of Islamic art with poetry and prose like a beautiful symphony of sound, light and water within a harmonious geometry. Mirza unravels a beautiful canvas like a fluid calligraphy which invokes in the reader a feeling of peace, tranquility and a quiet melody that sings a song to awaken the soul. The clever way her brain and creative talents work together are amazingly reflected in her beautiful and unique art style.”
– Huda Totonji, MFA, Ph.D, Adjunct Professor, The Art Institute of Washington and president, Huda Art LLC

 “In the tradition of illuminated manuscripts, architect and artist Uzma Mirza shares her spiritual meditations in this radiant collection of Islamic calligraphy, essay and verse.”
– Laila Kain, Independent Writer & Editor, Northeast Magazine, Hartford Courant

Cinderella – An Islamic Tale by Fawzia Gilani-Williams

Book Review by Ivanka Khan

When I first heard about “Cinderella – An Islamic Tale” by Fawzia Gilani-Williams, I couldn’t wait to read it. Apart from being a great admirer of Sr. Gilani’s work, I was also quite curious to find out how would someone be able to take this classic tale of magic, dancing and love, and turn it into an interesting and memorable Islamic story.  Needless to say, the story is not only interesting, memorable and entertaining, but a lot more than that. This book has opened up a door towards a whole new world of possibilities for Islamic literature; a world rarely explored and often feared.  The story is not just another Cinderella story with a twist, but a tale of faith, character and patience. Cinderella, true to itself, is also a tale of love: the love for our self, our Muslim brothers and sisters, our families and most importantly, the love for Allah (swt). It is a window to Islamic culture, etiquette, and traditions; a lesson in history, geography and social studies. One might wonder how Islamic terms like: Adhan, Sahoor, Surah, Day of Arafah or Taqwa would ever belong in a story like Cinderella. Well readers would be surprised as to how well they fit in there.  This beautifully illustrated book, combined with Sr. Gillani’s brilliant, creative writing, takes the reader on a journey through time and space that is definitely worth taking, no matter the age.

I. D. Khan is a freelance writer and editor. A member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Islamic Writers Alliance, and Travel Writers Association, she is most passionate about children and travel writing. She graduated with a degree in International Business and Middle Eastern Studies from SJSU, California. She currently resides in Dallas, TX.

2011 Summer Ramadan Edition of IWA Magazine

The Gift authored by Zaipah Ibrahim – Reviewed by Zeneefa Zaneer

“The Gift” is an Islamic romance fiction about a mother whose dream was to see her eldest son settling down before she left this world. Saleeha with her best friend’s help and the trust of Allah meets Syria and tries to match make her with Imran, Saleeha’s eldest son. Both being against of match making and having less interest in marriage, fearing to keep trust on a relationship, and their memories of past stick then on ground of opinion where they stand. Because of their less interest for this marriage, Saleeha’s dreams fade day by day. Yet Saleeha not giving up, believing both are meant for each other, tries to build a pleasant relationship between the two. Finally with lost hope when she becomes seriously ill Ani, her best friend let both Imran and Syria know about Saleeha’s health condition and her dreams. To keep his mother happy in her last days Imran agrees to marry Syria.  Syria having a pleasant view and respect for the strange woman agrees to this temporary marriage too. The intention behind the marriage was mere respect and love for Saleeha.

But how love and trust enters their life after the marriage was really amazing. From the beginning to the end the story unfolds smoothly and keeps the reader’s eyes and mind glued on pages. From Saleeha to Ani, Imran to Syria the way the writer has built the characters and their qualities keep the reader tied into the story. Every chapter gives hope for a beginning of another best and well written, marvelously planned chapter.

The strange but the beautiful feeling runs through a man and woman meant for each other have been written perfectly. The way writer pour her thoughts through her pen shows how talented she is and it simply explains how beautiful it can be, romance in Islamic perspective.

In today’s era it’s difficult to find a romance fiction without unnecessary involvement between the main characters, man and woman. Yet our writer of this beautiful story shows that it’s not necessary to write haram stuff to attract the reader. Books in this kind are good and necessary for young adults and even adults who like reading romance fiction. Promoting Halal way of living through halal writing is essential and this kind of books must reach not only the Muslims but also the others in the society to realize that there’s a beautiful world behind the glamorous world they try to live in.

In a short sentence this book is a ‘Gift’ for the society and the readers.

Master of the Jinn authored by Irving Karchmar. Twonew Five Star reviews on Amazon.com.

Simply Fabulous by Ruth

This review is from: Master of The Jinn: A Sufi Novel (Paperback) Master of The Jinn is a wonderful Sufi tale of love and tolerance. Regardless of your faith or beliefs, Master of The Jinn will transport you to a fantastical world of adventure with a deeper message that will open your heart. Do not start this book late at night unless you are ready to read into the wee hours of the morning! I can only hope for a sequel….

Highly Recommended! by A Customer

This review is from: Master of the Jinn: A Sufi Novel (Kindle Edition) It is wonderful… Offering a whirlwind ride back to the time of Solomon, the reader is taken on a mystical vision-quest in an effort to answer some of life’s most difficult questions. Crossing the boundaries for all of the “people of the Book” with ease and with a great story line, Master of the Jinn points us clearly towards finding answers. A delightful read – – I highly recommend it!

Rainey Walker Mystery Series Reviews:

 Book 1 – Catch Me If You Dare authored by L. D. Alan – Review byNancy Biddle

I was so happy to finally get my hands on this book. It is quite the read. It swept me right up into the whirlwind of interdepartmental red tape in the heat of a serial murder case. And it is refreshing to read a cop thriller story with Muslims in it and they are not the villains! It makes for an interesting peek into the somewhat sequestered world of a local Islamic community. I love the characters and that murder is quite the piece of work. And thanks for the direct writing style that lets the reader imagine the surroundings for themselves and best of all, no need to skim over romance scenes–there are none! Simply refreshing! I went right from this book to the next in the series, Gotcha! I cannot wait for the next installment!

Book 2 – Gotcha! authored by L. D. Alan – Review byNancy Biddle

I ran from Catch Me if You Dare right into this one and back into the net of the killer and this time there are two! I do not know where these characters came from but they are so fascinating. Rainey Walker is bolder in this one. The action does not stop until–well even it does not stop at the end! Again the author leaves us hanging to wait impatiently for the next book in the series. This time there is more opportunity for romance but — it is nicely skirted in the tensest of moments! Respect among the officers prevails. More murders this time and more twists, but nothing gory, only what the reader can imagine. Again swift and direct writing… just the facts. Love it!

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2011 Spring Edition of IWA Magazine

Catch Me If You Dare – Book Review

By Pamela Taylor

 Catch Me if You Dare
L.D. Alan
Muslim Writers Publishing
P.O. Box 27362, Tempe, Arizona 85285
9780981977027

I’ve always enjoyed a good, old-fashioned who-done-it, especially the page burner kind that keeps you reading well past your bed time. Catch Me If You Dare not only drew me in and kept me up late several nights; it brings some interesting elements to the mystery/thriller genre that I had not seen before.

A serial killer on a hate-crime spree in Phoenix, AZ is killing Muslim women and then draping their faces with their own headscarves, and leaving behind chilling post-it notes: 3 of 10, 4 of 10, 5 of 10. The Muslim community is terrified but also wary of law enforcement, which has more often than not viewed the Muslim community with suspicion. The FBI sends in agent Rainey Walker, a consultant who grew up in Phoenix and still has connections to old friends in the Muslim community there, to hunt up some new leads. Tension builds quickly when the investigation explodes into an international, multi-jurisdictional turf battle with the arrival of the intense and charismatic Jonah Daniels, captain in the US Army and agent for Interpol. Pressure mounts with taunting messages from the killer, and the investigation stymied in a miasma of distrust between local, national and international players.

With several interesting twists, a twinge of romance, and plenty of suspense, Catch Me If You Dare has all the elements of a good read, especially for those who enjoy realistic crime dramas. L.D. Alan served for 26 as a police officer in the Phoenix area, is clearly very familiar with the American Muslim community, and writes about them both with authority.

The book took a little longer getting into the scenario than I would have liked, but once the action started things heated up fast. The tension between the various departments working on the case, and the fact that the reader never knows just how much information was being withheld from Rainey by the people she is trying to work with, thereby leading her perhaps to wrong conclusions, was an interesting side-plot to the serial killer mystery, and added a different dimension to the book than many I have read. I also liked the fact that the serial killer’s back-story is not only timely, but also plausible. The ending, with its promise of more Rainey stories to come, was satisfying, if open-ended. One thing I really liked about this book was that even though it is about a brutal serial killer, most of the gory details were left to the imagination, making it suitable for a teenage audience as well as an adult one.

As a bonus, the author’s website, http://raineywalkerseries.wordpress.com, includes true stories from the years L.D. spent as a police officer. I find these stories to be an interesting adjunct to the book, giving insight into the years of experience that are behind the novel and a way to connect with the writer on a deeper level.

Pamela Taylor has been a free-lance writer for over 20 years with her work appearing in magazines and newspapers such as Islamic Horizons, the Dallas Daily News, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, and the Pioneer Free Press. She currently writes on a regular basis for On Faith (http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com). She is also a poet and fiction writer, particularly in the science fiction and fantasy genres. She has won several awards for her poetry, and her fiction has been published in several different anthologies and magazines, including the Islamic Writers Alliance first anthology, Writing the Sacred, A Mosque Among the Stars.

Superior Woman, Inferior Man In Islam– Book Review

By Soumyana

Abdul Rahman Mojahed has awakened many curious inquiries with the title of his book, Superior Woman, Inferior Man In Islam. Even Muslims, who traditionally think sexes in Islam are treated equally are surprised to learn that men might be the loser. In fact, to Mojahed, the fair sex gets more rights than men in Islam, and the stronger sex gets more duties.

And indeed, if a man incorporates Islamic laws in his life, he must bear all the costs and extra duties of marriage because he is not only a husband, but also a guardian. Thus, a husband is at the service of his wife. Not only she is discharged of many duties, but he is not allowed to compromise her happiness in any way.

If she pleases him, she enters Paradise. Easy if you consider that she cannot be happy if he is not happy. And who is not looking for one’s happiness first?

If she is a mother, her children honor her three times more than they honor her husband, and he has to make dues with his accomplishments outside the home.

Polygamy is allowed, yes, but set up to discourage men to even thinking about it.

And in case of a divorce, women will have custody of the child while he will be left only with the duty of the maintenance of the child.

The titles of the chapters in the book are in themselves very eloquent. To name a few: Honorary Authority Serving Women; No Compromise over Muslim Women’s Happiness; Divorce: Peaceful End to Unsuccessful Marriage, and Polygamy in Women’s Best Interests.

The book starts with an amazing chapter called Woman’s Basic Right to Life. Follows a series of horrendous facts about the way girls were treated in the pre-Islamic times and how Islam has changed the condition of women drastically. All chapters have a reference to the Bible times followed by an explanation of how Muslim women are superior. The research is well documented.

But how does the author explain this amazing historical turn of events?

Mojahed explains: “Prophet Mohammed said: “The weaker is the commander of the caravan.”(Al-Mawsily, Abu Al-Fath, Al-Mathal Al-Sair, 110/2). This prophetic statement shows how concerned Islam is for the weak. It places them in a specially higher rank so that they will not receive least harm and get as much advantage from the strong as possible. Islam makes an inferior and a servant of the strong to make sure they will not only desist from harming the weak but also work hard to benefit them and make them happy.” [Islam: A True Religion for the Weak]

All seems to be set up at the disadvantage of the man, clearly not the traditional image Westerners have of Islam.

Abdul Rahman Mojahed is a translator, reviser and author. He was born in 1982, Damietta City, Egypt. He graduated in 2006 from Islamic Studies Section, English Department, Faculty of Languages & Translation, Al-Azhar University, Cairo, Egypt. This work is part of a much larger research not yet available for purchase. You can visit the Kevin Barrett’s show to listen to an interview with Abdul Rahman Mojahed: http://noliesradio.org/archives/26590

Soumyana is a French reverted to Islam living in the USA. She is a writer and teacher by profession. Education: M.D. Linguistics, Montessori Certificate. Web site: http://www.alhidaayah.net/soumyana/ and Web site: http://soumyana.weebly.com/

 

 

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