Written in the Stars review

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I recently read Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed for Ramadan Readathon and it was one of the most emotional books I ever read. This book is about forced marriages that unfortunately can still happen especially within the south Asian community. The family and main character in this book are Pakistani but living in America. This does contain some spoilers.

The story begins where her parents find out that she has secretly been going out with a boy called Saif and decide to take her and her brother to Pakistan to see their family in Pakistan. Naila thinks it’s just a holiday but really it’s so they can get her married.

We follow Naila through her story and how her family force her to get married and the life she is forced to live. Her story ends when she is safely back in America but in reality this may not happen to everyone and some may spend the rest of their lives suffering.

She is drugged and locked in a room, unable to see anyone and then after she is married she lives in a little village with her in laws where she is unable to study or speak to anyone outside and her mother and sister in law try to control and dictate what she can and cannot do.

This story was so heart wrenching, but it’s a much needed story as it helps to raise awareness of the situation that these young girls and boys face. The reason which was repeatedly told to Naila as to why they were doing this to her was that it’s because they know what’s best for her and that she should have thought about the family honour.

Thankfully it is not as common as it was but it still exists, there are still people who believe they have the right to force their children to marry who they choose, by whatever means necessary and that women do not need to receive an education as their purpose in life is to look after the home and children.

Growing up I had heard of girls that are forced to get married but I never knew what they went through, after reading Nailas story it is even more heart wrenching thinking about it.

This story showed how it not only tore apart Nailas life but also affected her whole family and Saif and his family too. It did not bring back Nailas “family honour” instead it permanently damaged Nailas relationship with her parents.

I would definitely recommend everyone to read this book as it has some much needed insight into what it is like for someone who has been forced to get married and raise awareness for this issue.

I do also want to point out that although this does happen it is not the norm for every Pakistani girl. The majority are not forced into marriage and are able to pursue education and build careers. To be independent, I am Pakistani and in my house education is far more important than getting married and I know this is the same for my friends too.

Rating: 4.5/5

Also I just want to clarify that arranged marriages and forced marriages are not the same thing. An arranged marriage is where the bride and groom meet on several occasions and happily consent to the marriage. A forced marriage is where often the bride is given no choice and may even be drugged or threatened with her life to keep her docile to ensure she signs the marriage papers.

Ramadan Readathon

During this Ramadan @muslimreadathon over on Twitter and Instagram has set up a photo challenge to help people become more aware of and read books written by Muslim authors. There is one prompt a week and there will be a giveaway too!

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So I wanted to share a list of authors with you all to help you get started as I’m sure many of us don’t know many books written by Muslim authors. Some have written fiction, some non-fiction and some have written both.

These authors have written fiction books:

1) Na’ima B Robert – she has several books my favourite is She Wore Red Trainers.

2) G. Willow Wilson – also has several fiction books, among them one is called Alif the Unseen

3) Jamilah Kolocotronis – wrote the Echoes series, a 5 book series which is a favourite of mine.

4) Shelina Zafra Janmohammed – Love in a headscarf

5) Tahereh Mafi – Shatter me series, it’s also being made into a tv series and there will be 3 more books coming out

6) Sabaa Tahir – An Ember in the Ashes series, the first two are out at the moment

7) Khalid Hosseini – The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns and And the Mountains Echoed

8) Hend Hegazi – Normal Calm

9) Aisha Saeed – Written in the Stars

10) Ayisha Malik – Sofia Khan is not Obliged

11) Karuna Riazi – The Gauntlet

12) S.K. Ali – Saints and Misfits

These are authors who have written non-fiction books

1) Yasmin Mogahed – Reclaim Your Heart

2) Mohammad Faris – The Productive Muslim

3) Hesham Al-Awadi – Muhammad: How he can make you Extraordinary

4) Saifur Rahman Mubarakpuri – When the Moon Split

5) Mohammad Akram Ghadanfar – Great Women of Islam

6) Mohammad Akram Nadwi – Al-Muhaddithaat: The Women Scholars in Islam

7) Nouman Ali Khan – Revive your Heart

8) Na’ima B Robert – From my sisters lips

Hope you find this helpful. Some of these are among my favourite books! Hope you enjoy reading them.

If you have any questions please message me or find me on Instagram @thetsundokuchronicles

Happy Reading!

The Hate U Give Book Review

Hey guys so I wanted to share a book with you all that I read recently called The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

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To say I loved this book is an understatement! This book is a YA contemporary book inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement.

It is a brutally honest, heartbreaking book but is something that is so needed in today’s society. It was inspiring, insightful and empowering for all those who read it.

We all know what is happening in America regarding the Black Lives Matter movement and this explains everything so well. It follows a 16 year old girl called Starr who witnesses a police officer shoot her friend Khalil. From that we see from her point of view the way people react, how it’s portrayed in the media and what she and her family go through in the aftermath of this event.

The characters are so relatable and well fleshed out that you can’t help but feel for them and being muslim I can totally relate to so much of this book. There are assumptions and prejudices made about me because I wear I cover my hair. People think I’m uneducated, just there to serve my oppressive husband or even that I am a terrorist. But I’m none of those things but there are people who never see who I am because they never look past the scarf on my head. And like Starr I feel I can’t truly be me in front of certain people.

This book discusses police brutality, it discusses the oppression and prejudice that black people face and so much more. It is an eye opening read and I recommend everyone to read this book.

*This part is a bit spoilery*

One part of the book which really stood out for me was a conversation between Starr and her dad about why her friend was shot. Another part which was so well written was how people dehumanised her friend because he was suspected of being a drug dealer so in many people’s eyes it was justified. There are so many important scenes in this book, another part is how Starr is conflicted between how much she fears the police and the fact that her uncle is a police officer.

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I also had the pleasure of meeting the author Angie Thomas at a book signing and she is honestly such a lovely person. This book is something so close to her heart as she grew up in a similar environment to the main character of the book and she wants more people to widen their perspectives. This was her way of fighting the oppression.

The only part of the book I didn’t like was the swearing, it’s a personal preference that is something I dislike in all books.

If you have read this book do let me know what you think!

What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?

World Book Day

Today is World Book Day! As I love books I always feel really excited about today and I thought I would share with you some of my favourite Islamic fiction and non-fiction books. Happy reading!

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1) She wore red trainers by Na’ima B Robert

So this fast became my favourite love story and the first halal love story I’ve read. I could completely relate to the characters throughput the book and what they were going through and seriously loved this story! Everyone needs to read this book! It’s cute, it’s funny, it’s heartbreaking, basically it has everything you need in a book. I read this in one sitting!

2) The Echoes series by Jamilah Kolocotronis (5 book series)

So this is the first series I read that was classed as Islamic fiction, before this I didn’t even know that this genre existed! This is a story about a brother who reverts to Islam and how his life and his family’s life changes. Each book you see the development of him and his family and friends and it’s a series that will keep you on the edge of your seat. There’s so many things brought up in this series and so amazingly woven into the story from racism to terrorism and everything else in between. Completely loved this series.

3) Normal Calm by Hend Hegazi

So this book I picked up because I read about it in sisters magazine and it really intrigued me because the story was about a young Muslim girl who is raped and how her journey through surviving progresses. It’s a heartbreaking story but one that needs to be told as its somethings that isn’t dealt with appropriately in our society. I did wish some parts had been given more depth but it’s still worth reading.

4) From my sisters lips by Na’ima B Robert

This book is nothing but inspiring, to read about how Islam empowered the women sister Na’ima talks about in her book and especially how much of an impact Islam had on her life. It shatters the stereotype that women are oppressed and we get to see a much more real image of what Muslim women are like.

5) Reclaim your heart by Yasmin Mogahed

This book needs no introduction, I’m sure many of you have heard of sister Yasmin and know about her book. This book got me through some difficult times and it’s a book you can read multiple times and gain new insights into your life everytime you read it. Absolutely love this book!

6) Duas of the superstars by Alima Ashfaq

This is a sister who I have done several online courses with through Islamic Online University and they have been amazing. Her book goes through the importance of having goals and making the best duas we can make. She uses examples from both historic and contemporary figures and gives us Quranic duas that will help us to reach our goals. I really really loved this book and regularly read the duas she spoke about.

7) Al-Muhaddithat: The women scholars in Islam by Mohammad Akram Nadwi

This is just the introductory book of a 40 volume book of women scholars in Islam. This is the only one that has been translated into English (the 40 volumes are in Arabic) but even reading this gives so much insight into the lives of Muslim women throughout Islamic history. It challenges the misconceptions about women in society today, some of which include that women shouldn’t study or work etc. This book can be a little confusing for those who don’t understand the way that people were named within Arab society but it’s well worth reading.

8) Muhammad: How he can make you extraordinary by Hesham Al Awadi

Having listened to several of his lecture series and loves them, I just had to buy his book, and I wasn’t disappointed. This book is not a typical seerah book but it takes you through all the different stages in the prophet (saw) life and gives practical examples of how we can implement his habits into our lives. Giving practical techniques in raising children, to having a harmonious marriage to how to deal with teenagers. Using examples from the seerah and explaining how the prophet (saw) did things and what impact it had in his life and those around him.

9) The productive Muslim by Mohammad Faris

I love the articles on the productive Muslim website and the book is even better. Going through step by step each chapter tackles a different aspect of your life and goes through examples and exercises for us to implement to become more productive I our lives. It’s not a book you read I one sitting but go through each section and try to implement that before moving on. This is a book I’m still reading and learning from.

So these are some of my favourite Islamic books, if anyone’s read any of these let me know what you think! I would definitely recommend everyone to read all these books. Happy world book day!

What happens when you Marry a Bookworm

This post is dedicated to my husband who has put up with all that comes with marrying a booknerd. So these are just some of things you have to deal with if your spouse is a booknerd! To all the people who are looking to get married and your potential spouse says they love reading, you have been warned!

1) We will constantly gush about whatever book we’re reading. Especially when we finish a book we NEED to talk to someone about everything we’re feeling and you are the closest person to us therefore you will have to listen. Even if that means we wake you up at 4am because we we’re an emotional wreck. This will also mean that you will know characters and storylines about books you may not have even looked at, let alone read.

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2) If something traumatic happens in the book we’re reading we will be severely affected by it. If one of our favourite characters dies then we will be an emotional wreck. We will cry, laugh, scream and yell at the book. Basically our emotions are affected by the book.

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3) Everytime we walk past a bookshop we will NEED to go inside to browse. This can mean we think we’re in there for 10 minutes but it can be an hour. We really won’t realise the that much time has passed because we’re too busy looking at all the amazing book we want to buy. You will more than likely end up dragging us out.

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4) We will want to buy more books even though we have a pile of books at home we haven’t read yet. Our favourite kind of shopping spree is a book shopping spree. Don’t worry we will eventually get round to reading all the books we have.

5) We will NEVER have enough books, just not enough bookcases.

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6) Our main post will be books! Because like I mentioned we need to buy books all the time it’s not always from the shop. We will also buy books online. You will also end up carrying the bag of books when we do go to the bookshop.

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7) As we love books, we will want to meet the author of these books. This will mean we will drag you book events as we don’t want to go alone.

8) Our books are like our children, our prized possessions. We will not take kindly to any damage to our books and we always dream of having our own personal library.

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9) We will want several editions of our favourite books. They’re so many pretty covers out there and we want them all!

10) You should never interrupt us mid-chapter. We will either not even realise you spoke to us or become highly irritated with you.

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11) You will never be stuck for a gift for us. You can literally buy us books for any and all occasions and we will be happy.

12) We will tell you every night that we will finish the chapter and come up to bed but it will become one more chapter until it’s past midnight and we’re exhausted but we still need to read one more chapter.

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13) We will carry a book wherever we go, even if it’s to go get the groceries because you know, just in case. We can’t ever get bored if we have a book with us.

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So these are things that me and my husband came up with. I’m sure that others will have their own ones to add. We booknerds are a unique bunch but at least we will keep your life interesting and you will always have something to talk about. 🙂

The Benefits of Reading

So I recently shared my love for reading but many people just see it as something to do for enjoyment. But there are so many benefits from reading regularly. I will go through some of them here and maybe it will inspire some of you to read regularly inshaAllah.

So some of the many benefits are:

1) Mental stimulation

Studies have shown that reading slows the progress of alzheimer’s and dementia and can even prevent them from developing. This is because keeping the brain active prevents it from losing power and enables the brain to stay strong and healthy.

Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body. – Joseph Addison

2) Reduces stress

No matter how stressed you are, you can lose yourself in a great story which will distract you for a short time, letting you ease your tension. Even if you spend 10-15 minutes reading in the evening or before you go to bed, will mean you are much more relaxed when you go to sleep. This will allow you to have a more restful sleep leaving you refreshed for the next day.

3) Knowledge

Every time you read, you learn something new. It could be a new word or a literary technique or a new piece of information or even how people react to a situation. The more knowledge you have, the better equipped you will be to tackle the different situations you will face in your life. Gaining knowledge is very important to be able to progress in life and reading is one of the most effective ways to do it. Even the First word revealed in the Quran was ‘read’ this alone should indicate how important and beneficial reading is for us.

The book to read is not the one that thinks for you but the one that makes you think. – Harper Lee

4) Increased vocabulary

So carrying on from the last point, reading vastly improved your vocabulary. The more you read, the more words you’re exposed to which will give you a wider vocabulary to use for yourself. It will help you to become more articulate in your speech, which will be especially useful in a professional setting. Being able to speak more clearly and better explain yourself will help to increase your confidence and self esteem too.

The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read. – Mark Twain

5) Memory improvement

When you read, you have to remember a number of things to understand the story. From the characters backgrounds to subplots, so your brain creates new synapses for each new memory and will strengthen old ones.

A library is a hospital for the mind – Anonymous

6) Focus and concentration

We live in such a busy society that we often try to divide our attention between several things which increases stress levels and lowers our productivity. Reading is an activity that requires your full concentration so focusing on that one thing even for 10-15 minutes can improve your focus for the rest of the day.

7) Better writing skills

The more exposure you have to well written work, the better your own writing will be. One of the things authors say when trying to write is to read as much as you can. When you read you will pick up lots of literary techniques which will improve your own writing.

Libraries were full of ideas perhaps the most dangerous and powerful of all weapons. – Sarah J. Maas

8) Tranquility

Depending on what you read, it can help you find inner peace. So for us reading the Quran helps us to be more tranquil and calm. Reading self help books can help to improve certain areas in your life which help to also bring a sense of peace.

9) Improves empathy

Books can provide life changing perspective, reading the lives of characters can strengthen your ability to understand other people’s feelings and what others may be going through. For example many of us don’t really understand what someone who suffers from abuse goes through unless we experience it ourselves. But reading through the eyes of a character who may be suffering from abuse can help us to understand what real life victims may go through.

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one. – George R.R. Martin

So these are just SOME of the many benefits of reading! I hope these inspire some of you to pick up a book! If any of you think of any more please do comment below!

If you don’t like to read you just haven’t found the right book – J.K Rowling

For The Love Of Reading

So today I want to share with all of you something that I love and that is, reading! People who know me, know just how passionate I am about reading and some of my most difficult shopping decisions are about what book I should buy. I’ve been reading since I was a child, I have read countless number of books over the years and until now my favourite hobby and way to relax is to read a good book.

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This is one of my several bookcases 🙂

I will carry a book with me everywhere and I if I had the time I can finish a whole book in a day. Books and reading is a huge part of my life, I honestly can’t imagine not reading. When I am super busy I barely get to read and I miss it so much I will stay up a it later than usual just so I can read, even if it’s only a few chapters. Once I’m hooked on a book I can barely put it down and I will go through a huge range of emotions. I feel the sadness, anger, pain, heartbreak, happiness, joy, love that the characters feel. And to me that’s a sign of a really good book!

I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading, how much sooner one tires of any thing than of a good book. – Jane Austen

Many people I know just don’t like to read they haven’t picked up a single book since they left school. But for me reading is something I could never give up completely and I think it’s because it’s so instilled within me. My whole family are avid readers. My parents and all my sisters, my parents house has books piled up high in every single room, so much so, that we’ve had to put books in our attic to make more space!

It was my parents that first got me into reading, they would take us to the library almost every Saturday as kids. It was there that I first discovered my love for reading. I still remember the books I read that got me into reading, The famous five series and The secret seven series by Enid Blyton. I still love these books today. But the books that really made me fall in love with reading is the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.

I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book. – J.K. Rowling

I literally grew up with Harry, Ron and Hermione and I related to them so much. I still remember that I insisted that my dad take me to Asda at midnight to get the 5th book as it was released. I just had to have it the same day and I read it all the same day. Even now I still consider it to be one of my all time favourite series. I love reading YA fantasy books, that feeling of being transported into a whole different world and the epic adventure you go on…ahhh I just can’t get enough! I have a “to read” pile that never ends! There’s just so many good books being released every month!

You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me. – C.S. Lewis

As a teenager I met others who loved reading as much as I did and we instantly became friends. When book nerds unite we can literally talk about books for hours, gush more like. Most of the friends I made through a mutual love of reading eventually became my best friends and we will still talk for ages about books we’ve read.

But it’s not only fiction that I love, I learnt a lot about Islam through reading initially. And even now I use these resources to develop my understanding of Islam. I mean after all the first word revealed in the Quran was Read.

So this leads me onto something else I want to share and that is that not only is reading a great way to relax but there are so many benefits of reading! Something which I hope to share with you soon.

If there are any readers out there do comment below! It’s always lovely to speak to fellow book nerds!

Book nerd and proud! 🙂