12 Books Penned by Muslim Authors That You Should Read Next

published Apr 28, 2021
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Woman wearing hijab sitting outside reading a book
Credit: Shutterstock/Dean Robers

It’s that time of the year again for us Muslims: Ramadan. But all year round, it’s important to highlight the stories of Muslims written by Muslims. And what I love about books penned by Muslim authors is that it’s never a one-size-fits-all approach, covering the Muslim experience in multiple ways.

These stories range from romantic relationships and family drama, to facing oppression, Islamophobia, and misogyny. Samira Ahmed’s “Mad, Bad & Dangerous to Know” tells the story of Khayyam, a French-Indian American Muslim girl and aspiring art historian with a love for philosophy and history, while G. Willow Willson’s “Alif the Unseen” is a more computer-science heavy fantasy novel, combining fantasy, djinns, and coding. But above all, many of these tell the stories of Muslims just existing.

Here are 12 superb novels that celebrate the diversity and experiences of Muslims.

Samira Ahmed’s novel is told in altering narratives across centuries and in various places, from Paris, Chicago, and even the Ottoman Empire. In this The New York Times bestseller, Ahmed shares the stories of two young Muslim women escaping immense family pressure and cultural expectations, finding their own path along the way.

This novel contains a compilation of essays written by 17 Muslim women from around the world. Edited by Mariam Khan, these stories cover everything from navigating the workplace as Muslim women, to misogyny within their individual Muslim communities and beyond, and the hijab and what it means for faith — all whilst challenging the notions of oppression, Islamophobia and misogyny.

 I am currently reading Wilson’s novel, and it details the stories of djinns which exist in Islam, spirituality, and tech. Political unrest, computer viruses, the unorthodox romance, and bridges the gap between cyberpunk, sci-fi and fantasy. Utter genius!

We meet Allie Abraham, a half-Arab and half-white woman, who doesn’t know where she fits in as biracial Muslim in the U.S. Her Arab father never taught her about Islam, nor did he ever care about it. Furthermore, Allie’s boyfriend’s father is a bigot, spewing Islamophobic and xenophobic rhetoric — but her boyfriend has no idea she is Muslim. Navigating the complexities of faith, identity, and race, Courtney shares a story that may be all too familiar with the community.

Dubbed the Muslim Bridget Jones, Malik — in her hilarious romantic comedy — details the life of Sofia Khan, who is asked by her publishing company to write about the Muslim dating scene. This novel tackles many misconceptions, fuses cultural dialogue, and gives an insight into the life of British Pakistani Sofia Khan.

Inspired by the life of Yusuf Salaam, a member of the Exonerated Five, “Punching the Air” explores the life of a 16-year-old Black boy who was wrongfully incarcerated. Amal Shahid’s future took an unexpected turn following his conviction. Zoboi and Salaam tell the profound story of this young boy maintaining his humanity and dignity against these discriminatory systems.

A Pakistani retelling of the classic “Pride and Prejudice.” The Binat family endures a scandal that destroys their fortune and prospects for marriage. But Alys, the headstrong second oldest daughter, doesn’t care for marriage and is perfectly content in her singlehood.

It’s another “Pride and Prejudice” trope! Ayesha is an aspiring poet who forgoes her dreams to pay her debts back to her uncle. She meets Khalid, one of the most conservative and judgmental Muslim men she’s ever come across — and she can’t help but fall in love with him.

Afaf Rahman, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, is the prinicipal of Nurrideen School for Girls in the Chicago suburbs. One morning, a radicalized shooter attacks the school, and whilst listening to their shooter’s terrifying progress, the story takes us between Afaf’s past and present. Capturing the essence of what it means to rediscover Islam and being unapologetically Muslim, Mustafah reminds readers that no journey is the same.

This is a Palestinian family saga that spans across generations and continents, covering the socio-political dynamics and realities for Palestinians in diaspora.

On the eve of Alia’s wedding, Salma reads her daughter’s future in the dregs of her coffee cup. Upset with what she sees, she keeps the predictions to herself. Despite this, the predictions come to fruition in light of the Six-Day War of 1967. Alia is forced to relocate to Kuwait with her husband to avoid the tragedies, then Kuwait is invaded by Saddam Hussein and, yet again, Alia loses her home and land, and her children scatter across the world — from Paris to Beirut and Boston. Alyan’s novel tells the struggles of Palestinians who fled from occupation and war.

A sci-fi story about culture, feminism, colonialism, and what it means to have your culture erased by an empire. Mirage explores the story of Amani, who is torn from her home and battles with cultural identity after being kidnapped by the brutal Vathek regime.

The Yard” follows the life of a young abandoned boy Behrooz, who is adopted by a devout Muslim family in Trinidad and Tobago against the wishes of others. An authentic story full of love, family drama, and insight into the experience of Indo-Caribbean Muslims.