Interview with Hijab Boutique author, Michelle Khan

The interview below was originally posted on http://woodturtle.wordpress.com/

Why did you want to write a book about hijab?

I think hijab is beautiful. The styles. The fabrics. The religious concept behind it. I personally am not a hijabi, but I know women who do adhere. This story idea blossomed when my Bangladeshi-Canadian family doctor decided to become a hijabi as an adult. I wanted to explain this process of change through the eyes of a child. I wanted to teach the values of Islam surrounding hijab. So I did my research, and learned.

I also used my main character, Farah, to point out the frustrations some kids face as a result of their mother’s devotion to hijab. For instance, Farah labels her mother “b-o-r-i-ng” in respect to how glamorous the other students’ mothers appear at Miss Peabody’s Academy. Soon enough, both Farah and readers learn how interesting Mrs. Khan actually is. Her life experiences speak for themselves.

Do you see yourself as a feminist/womanist? And if so, how do you describe your feminism/womanism?

I believe in the power of women. I believe in equal rights. I believe in freedom of choice. In other words, I am a FEMINIST!!! However, you won’t find me burning my bra under the false stereotypical image of what it (cough) means to be a feminist.

I think as a feminist it’s really, really important not to judge other women. We shouldn’t become enemies within ourselves. For instance, Farah Khan (the main character in my book) learns via her mother that some people are quick to judge hijabis by rationalizing that Muslim females are “oppressed” women. Farah now knows better than that. In actuality, many feminists believe hijabis are the ultimate feminists because they refuse to be seen as sex objects. Neat concept, huh?

On the flipside, I’ve learned a lot about European culture through my wonderful fiancée, Alan. In many of our conversations, he’s remarked how some women from his origins (Italy) feel the freedom and choice to reveal their bodies is a form of feminism. It’s ironic how two opposing sides of the same coin fit under one umbrella of “feminism.”

The bottom line is: We’re not here to judge. Rather, as women we should feel compassion for one another. Our world would be much better that way.

What is your religious background and do you consider yourself to be religious now?

I don’t think my religion should be a promotional tool. I don’t want people to purchase my book based on the fact that I am Muslim or not. I want people to take an interest in the “The Hijab Boutique” because they want to read a good story.

Yes, I do believe in a Higher Power. When I pray, I do it with passion. It comes from my heart. Insomuch, I’ve burst into tears with emotion at times. Read: The concept of religion fascinates me. Dearly. In fact, I took religion courses while studying at University of Toronto. Someone once asked: “Why do you want to study such a silly topic?” At the time, I was dumbfounded. My answer today: “I don’t regret it one bit.” I only believe this knowledge has added dimension to my character.

Do you have any children? If so, how have they influenced your writing?

No, I don’t have any little ones yet. I’m not sure if I ever will. I can’t seem to make up my mind! However, like religion, children fascinate me. I’m always curious to know how their thoughts operate. I love how they absorb the world around them. I admire their energy. I can’t get enough of their carefree attitude. Is it any surprise that I write for
kids? (Insert laugh.) You’ll often find me gabbing or playing with some special kiddos in my life. We interact like friends. I guess I have that luxury since I don’t have to enforce rules!

In any case, I’m often told that I’m a “big kid at heart.” Being in touch with youthful innocence helps me tune into writing children’s literature. While penning “The Hijab Boutique,” I made it a point to think like Farah all the time. In the same way, an actor does to make a screenplay come to life. This is just my way of nitpicking details out of my characters.

What made you decide to write an Islamic children’s book?

This story came to me very naturally. Scene after scene, played in my head like a machine. Islam is a very beautiful, rich religion. Why wouldn’t I want to write about it?

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MUSLIM ALL-STARS BOOK LAUNCH – INVITE KHALEEL MUHAMMAD TODAY

MUSLIM ALL-STARS BOOK LAUNCH! Nasheed artist and author Khaleel Muhammad has his debut children’s book MUSLIM ALL-STARS: HELPING THE POLONSKYS on sale now. In order to share Khaleel’s work with more people, we’re looking for interested mosques, madrasas, schools and institutions to help us launch his thrilling book. If you’d like to get involved in a launch, and you have a minimum of 100 children as part of your group, drop a message in Khaleel’s inbox. We already have several groups interested in inviting Khaleel to come along, sign copies of the book, take questions and hear a few of his songs in celebration of this exciting project. And if that wasn’t enough groups will get a 20% discount off the book. For us its spreading news of the books launch, for you its exposing the kids to a new book aimed at their age group and a chance to attract new members … and getting free performance from Khaleel Muhammad!!

So what are you waiting for? Contact us now: info@kubepublishing.com

To learn more about the book watch the MUSLIM ALL STARS trailer

To buy the book go to http://www.kubepublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=76&osCsid=f3984cd48998460b6e97bf0b81eec132

Khaleel Muhammad – singer, songwriter, storyteller… AND author!

Khaleel Muhammad has written a book for Kube Publishing called Muslim All-Stars: Helping the Polonskys. Due to publish in March 2012 his first book tells the story of an exciting new group of teenagers: Leila, Imran, Che Amran, Sumaya and Adam. Between them they want to help their local community, starting with Mr Polonsky’s house.

Don’t miss this exciting new book from Kube.

 

Recommended readers 9+

£3.99

9780860374541

Available from http://www.kubepublishing.com/product_info.php?products_id=76

 

Introducing Hassan and Aneesa

Hassan and Aneesa are two characters I would like you all to meet. Over the next few months we hope to take them on a number of trips to new and interesting places. In their first outing they visit a madrasa where they learn, listen, pray and snack, and generally have a great time.

I know their parents have in mind a trip to the masjid for Aneesa because she has yet to go. Look out for future titles, as they are fantastic books to introduce all children to these places of interest for Muslim families.

 

More poetry from Dawud Wharnsby’s ‘A Picnic of Poems’

Dawud Wharnsby, author of ‘A Picnic of Poems: In Allah’s Green Gardens’, has turned three poems from the book into videos! Go on, treat yourself and see what all the excitement is about.

Dear Mr Crow

 

Continue reading

Farah Morley, author of ‘The Spider and the Doves’, talks about her book

Dear readers, Salaams and hello!

Farah Morley, the author and illustrator of an upcoming release The Spider and the Doves, has given us an exclusive account of why she wanted to work on this story and how she settled on her unique artistic style for the book below:

“It is a strange thing to admit, but my book started as a puppet show! My daughter was attending a Steiner kindergarten and I was invited to tell a story pertaining to Islam. Continue reading