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Posts Tagged ‘Muslim’

Author Evening: ‘Great Muslims of the West – Makers of Western Islam’ with Muhammad Mojlum Khan

Written by R on . Posted in Author, Muhammad Mojlum Khan, News and events

FREE ENTRY & Refreshments provided!

WHEN: Thursday, 8 February 2018 from 6pm –
WHERE: IHRC Bookshop, 202 Preston Road, Wembley HA9 8PA (nearest station: Preston Road)
Click here to book your space!


The book will be available to purchase during the event!

The contributions of some extraordinary Muslims of the West in recent history is surprising, revealing and, most importantly, worth celebrating.

“[A] work of great synthesis. . . . [It] argues that the ‘makers of Western Islam’ have not only enriched Islam, but also humanity in general. This book is an important and timely contribution.”—Dr. Enes Karic, Professor at the Faculty of Islamic Studies, University of Sarajevo, and former Minister of Education, Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina

“[An] unusually informative, inspiring and timely contribution. Essential reading for Muslims and non-Muslims, Easterners and Westerners alike.”—Dr. Syed Mahmudul Hasan, F.R.A.S. historian, author, and formerly Professor of Islamic History and Culture at the University of Dhaka

Muslims have lived in the “West” for hundreds of years, yet the lives of all but a few are little knownIn this illuminating work, Muhammad Mojlum Khan sets out to change this by revealing the lives and impact of over fifty significant Muslims, from the founder of Muslim Spain in the eighth century to Muhammad Ali of yesteryear.

This extraordinary book features biographies on the enslaved African Prince Ayuba Sulaiman Diallo, who was put to work in the tobacco fields of Maryland; Abdullah Quilliam, the Victorian Shaykh of the British Isles; Alexander Russell Webb, the voice of Muslims in Victorian America; and W.D. Muhammad, Elijah Muhammad’s son, who mentored Malcolm X and transformed the Nation of Islam.

Read a sample: http://bit.ly/2htNV5s


Muhammad Mojlum Khan is an award-winning British writer, literary critic and research scholar. He has published more than 200 essays and articles worldwide and his writings have been translated into several languages. He is the author of the bestselling The Muslim 100 (2008) and The Muslim Heritage of Bengal (2013). He is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and Ireland and Director of the Bengal Muslim Research Institute UK.

Click here to book your space!

Manners and Morality in Islam

Written by R on . Posted in Adil Salahi, From Kube Shelves

Al-Adab al-Mufrad, an anthology of 1329 hadiths (recorded actions and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad), is a treasured work in Muslim history by one of its most respected scholars, Imam Bukhari (809-870), whose role in presenting the most trust-worthy teachings of the Prophet Muhammad place him head and shoulders above all others in this area.

In preparing this selection of hadiths Imam Bukhari aimed to set out a guide for moral conduct, based on the Prophetic example, and that of Muhammad’s closest companions. All of the hadiths are directly related to the standards of manners and morality Islam wants to prevail, and Muslims throughout the world have been guided by it since its preparation over a millennium ago.

What distinguishes the present work is that it includes a contemporary commentary on each topical collection of hadiths, clearly emphasising the relevance of the Prophet’s teachings in our modern and complex societies. This pioneering addition marks it out as perhaps the first English work commenting on and explaining a full anthology of hadiths.

The translator and author of the commentaries, Adil Salahi, has a long history of research in the Seerah and Hadith, and he has written extensively on both.

Read a sample below!


About the Author

Adil Salahi’s writings include the acclaimed Muhammad: Man and Prophet and Pioneers of Islamic Scholarship, and the English translation of the 18-volume In the Shade of the Qur’an. His main career has been in radio and print journalism, and for over 30 years he was editor of ‘Islam in Perspective’, a twice-weekly full-page column in the Arab News, a Saudi daily newspaper.

For more information on the book click here.

Hard back edition

Al-Adab al-Mufrad with Full Commentary

A Perfect Code of Manners and Morality By Imam Bukhari Translated and commentaries by Adil Salahi

A complete, newly translated edition of al-Adab al-Mufrad, the most famous collection of Prophetic traditions on manners and morals, with a pioneering commentary by Adil Salahi.

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Al-Ghazali on Listening to Music in Islam

Written by R on . Posted in From Kube Shelves, Uncategorized

Listening to Music 

Listening [to songs] can be absolutely prohibited, permitted, reprehensible or praiseworthy. As for that which is prohibited, it is for most young men who are overwhelmed with the lust of this world; for listening will stir up in them nothing but the reviled attributes prevalent in their hearts. As for that which is reprehensible, it is for those who do not project what they listen to into the image of human beings, but take listening as a habit for most of the time, for entertainment. As for that which is permitted, it is for those whose share of listening is restricted to enjoying beautiful voices. As for that which is praiseworthy, it is for the one who is captivated by the love of Allah Most High, and listening will only stir in him his
praiseworthy attributes.

Centuries ago one had to go to special places and gatherings to listen to songs, which were not available all
the time. When Muslim scholars discussed and ruled over listening to music and songs, they could not
imagine a time in the future when literally millions of recorded songs would be stored in a virtual reality
that are readily available all the time. But what are they listening to?

Imam al-Ghazali’s first concern was about the content which might lead youngsters to psychological
projection and fantasising about sexuality. They colour what they hear through their own lustful desires. Once the content in itself is problematic, it becomes prohibited. The degree of prohibition of this type of songs may have been more severe had the scholars of old known about some of the explicit lewd content of many songs today. And while there are songs today that may be considered positive, because they motivate people to overcome challenges and do something good, there are dark-themed songs that entertain suicide and encourage wrong behaviour.

Once the song is devoid of problematic content according to Islamic universal norms, and the listener does not project any ill thoughts, but only listens by way of habit for extended periods, then listening is reprehensible. Al-Ghazali is concerned here with wasting time, as with any type of extended activity that does not generate personal or public good, material or spiritual. Listening here is a distraction from a purposeful life. It is interesting that the synonyms of ‘entertainment’ include diversion and distraction.

The third category is when listening to songs is simply permitted. Here the listener enjoys the beautiful
voice and the melody. There is no transgression in content and it is done only occasionally.

The fourth category is when listening becomes commendable. It is for those whom the love of Allah occupies their whole time, emotions and actions. They are the opposite of the first category, for once they hear a song about the beloved, they think of Allah. The song, in their case, becomes a tool that helps in bringing forth the best in their souls and character.

This excerpt is from ‘A Treasury of Ghazali: A Companion for the Untethered Soul’

You can find out more information about the book here. To read a sample of the book click here.

Ibn Taymiyyah on Paradise

Written by R on . Posted in From Kube Shelves


‘In this world there is a paradise. Whoever does
not experience it, will not experience the Paradise
of the Hereafter.’

In Paradise there is only peace, prosperity and happiness. For some, the very thought of this will
contrast starkly with their experience of this world. Experience of the harsh reality of the world may even make any attempt to conceive such a state very difficult. And while the fundamental nature of the world and our perception of our own place within it, has surely evolved with the onset of modernity.

Many of us, despite possessing the means to sustain a largely comfortable existence, compare ourselves to others which can leave us feeling that we are not good enough, do not have enough, are not doing enough, and so on. Anxiety, panic and depression are too often the resultant conditions, and they are on the rise. It is now a fact that one in three of us will at some point in life suffer from one or another mental health issue. In light of this, the words of Ibn Taymiyyah take on a new hue of meaning; they are a reminder and encouragement to those of us experiencing a sense of dislocation in the world—and perhaps seeking an unhealthy sense of longing for another life—that paradise has a place in this world.

Ibn Taymiyyah goes further than this, of course, and says that it is only those of us who experience the paradise of this world who can experience the Paradise of the Hereafter. But do not be fooled into thinking that such a state is obtained simply by bowing and prostrating on a prayer mat; or indeed that those experiencing one form or another of melancholy are in a low state of iman. Human states, whether spiritual, psychological or emotional are too complex to be facetiously and superficially categorised in this way; there are no simple formulas for bringing about different states of mind and being. However, there is a point to take from the comparison of the Paradise of the Hereafter and the paradisical state which Ibn Taymiyyah believes can be achieved in the life of this world.

The Paradise of the Hereafter is a timeless place, in which there is no past and no future—therein only the present exists. It is quite possible, therefore, that the experience of peace, prosperity and happiness in the Paradise of the Hereafter is a consequence of living in and embracing the moment. In Paradise, there will be no place for anxiety over what has passed or anxiety of what is yet to pass. And for this very reason, there will be no disruption to the experience of peace, prosperity and happiness.

Now, although living in the present—in the here-and-now—is no doubt something that requires a certain degree of conscious effort, and probably impossible to sustain for long, it is surely a desideratum to be sought, however and whenever possible, if even to momentarily enjoy the taste of what is promised to us in the Paradise of the Hereafter. In the words of another sage: ‘Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift …  that is why it is called the present!’

And God knows best!

This excerpt was taken from ‘A Treasury of Ibn Taymiyyah’. If you liked this blog post and want to find out more, you can read more of Ibn Taymiyyah’s timeless thought and wisdom here.

Gratitude In Islam

Written by R on . Posted in From Kube Shelves

Gratitude lies at the core of man’s relationship with Allah. It may be expressed by the heart, tongue, through deeds, words and gestures. As to the gratitude flowing from the heart, it is the proper response for innumerable divine favours. A grateful person is always mindful of being indebted for Allah’s bounties, big and small, and articulates his feelings t every step to express gratitude.

This feeling of constant gratitude has a very significant bearing on man’s deeds, For he is pleased to do the deeds that please Allah, his benefactor. Conversely, he is averse to anything that amounts to ingratitude in response to a divine bounty. One who truly appreciates divine bounty. One who truly appreciates divine bounties can never reconcile himself to abusing them by acting against Allah’s will. If someone gives us a weapon that can help us to defend ourselves, only a wicked person would abuse that weapon to hurt the one who gave it. One who truly appreciates divine bounties is never ready to abuse them in the cause of Satan. Umm al-Mu’minin A’ishah made this point in her letter Amir Mu’awiyah; ‘A person blessed with some favour owes the minimum obligation of not abusing that favour against his benefactor.’

To develop a constant feeling of gratitude and a sound consciousness on this count, the first and foremost ask is to constantly acknowledge and declare the favours bestowed upon by Allah. It is a general human weakness that if someone is afflicted with some misfortune, he is continually mentioning it which he constantly enjoys. He disregards these as if these do not exist. Such a person is not likely to appreciate the favours done to him by his benefactor. To overcome this weakness, we should devote a little time every day to reflect on the bounties we enjoy and to study divine signs scattered around us. We should reflect too on what our state would be if he had not been blessed by Allah with the favours we are currently enjoying. If we had not been endowed with eyes,, ears, limbs and brain, we would not have been able to accomplish anything. We would have led a miserable life.

Another equally important point to remember is that Allah has granted us innumerable favours even though we have not deserved them. By definition, Allah is not obliged to do us these favours, and we can never repay Him in any measure for His bounties. While cannot repay Him, he can deprive us of His favours whenever He will, and there is no one to stop Him from doing so. A king may be reduced to a pauper; so he should not dismiss a lowly person, for Allah may degrade us to the same position, we should constantly praise Him for His favours to us.

Another help in encouraging gratitude is not to look at those who have been blessed with more than us, but at those who have been blessed with less. Those who fail to do this are always complaining of their difficulties and problems and are never blessed with satisfaction or contentment. Even when their lot improves, they do not experience true contentment . This is because it is impossible to be in a state that is in all respects better than that of everyone else. The only way to express our gratitude to Allah is to be constantly mindful that we are servants of Allah – some of His servants are not granted as much as we ave, and others are favoured with more than us.

The wisdom in that approach is well illustrated by an anecdote related by Shaikh Sa’di. While travelling he reached Damascus in a miserable condition. He did not have any money to buy new shoes to replace his old ones. It pained him that he was unable to buy a pair of new shoes. With these thoughts he entered the mosque where he observed a lame person, without feet. On seeing this, he immediately fell into prostration, thanking Allah profusely for having provided him with feet, if not with new shoes. This incident identifies the perspective in which we should look at things. Those with a feeling of gratitude observe numerous manifestations of Allah’s favours which then fill them with greater gratitude. However, there are others who are always complaining of what they do not have, and are therefore unable to thank Allah for the many blessings He has bestowed upon them.

Excerpt taken from:  Tazkiyah – The Islamic path of self-development available here, for the eBook version click here.

Allah the Lover: Is Islam a Religion of Love or Laws?

Written by R on . Posted in From Kube Shelves

When it comes to Islam as a Religion, many people especially Muslims focus on the rulings. What’s halal (permissible) or haram (forbidden), what are the Laws and rulings towards x, y and z? Though the rulings are significant to Muslims, the fixation on them may hinder our appreciation of the love and mercy of Allah and how encompassing His love truly is.

Here’s a brief excerpt to remind us of Allah’s mercy and passion.

Allah the Lover

A pious man is facing his reckoning in the presence of Allah. Realising that many of his family members have committed sins, the man decides to grant his reward for good deeds to the family members, up to the point that he runs of of his reward. God asks him; ‘Now, how are you going to survive My hisab (Reckoning)?’ The man replies, ‘I leave it to your mercy, O Lord.’ With that, God commands His angels to let the man enter Heaven.


At the beginning of every surah of the Qur’an, bar one, God refers to Himself as Rahman and Rahim – words that are generally translated as something like: the Most Gracious and the Most Merciful. However, the word rahmah in Arabic, from which these two words are derived, has a very comprehensive connotation consisting of love, mercy, blessings and many other similar meanings. It is in this principle of love that the whole Islamic belief and way of life are summarised.

And it is not without a profound significance that a Muslim is taught to recite the same verse – ‘In the name of God, The most Beneficent, The Most Merciful’ – every time they embark on any endeavour, whether it has to do with religion or not. In the original Arabic, the expression uses the word ‘Allah’ instead of just any word denoting God. ‘Allah’ is actually His All-Encompassing Name (al-ism al-jami) or His Greatest Name (al-ism al-a’zam) which both comprehends, and is the source of, all of His other names. In other words, notwithstanding the fact that His names comprise both attributes of beauty (jamal) and majesty (jalal), as one whole, the concept of God in Islam represents mercy and beneficence and nothing else.

In fact, love is the quintessential principle of God. He emphasises in the Qur’an that:

…surely my Lord is Ever Merciful, Most Loving. (Hud 11:90)

In another place in the Qur’an, Allah is characterised by wudd (enduring love) and ghufran (forgiveness) at the same time:

…and He is the Forgiving and the Loving (al-Buruj 85:14)

Whilse His Attribute as rahim (merciful) and wadud (loving) are mentioned together in this ayah:

Ask for pardon of your Lord and then turn unto Him (repentant). Lo! My Lord is Merciful, Loving. (Hud 11:90)

Further than that, in a hadith qudsi, God reveals unequivocally that: ‘My Mercy has overcome My Wrath.‘ What is of the utmost important is that all through the Qur’an Allah reveals Himself through these Most Beautiful Names (al-asma al-husna), those names denoting His beautiful Qualities (jamal) are found in five times as many verses as those that denote His Majestic Qualities (jalal). In the same vein, His Vengeance appears only once in the Holy Book, while the opposite quality- The Forgiving one, occurs about one hundred times. Indeed, nothing in His creation is deprived of His Mercy.

My Mercy encompasses everything. (al-A’raf 7:156)

The last verse categorically states that all occurrences, not excluding things that appear to be evils and suffering, are actually manifestations of His Mercy.

This excerpt is derived from Haidar Bagir’s book ‘Islam The Faith of Love and Happiness’ to find out more about his book, click here

Revive Your Heart with Nouman Ali Khan – New book by Bayyinah founder published by Kube

Written by R on . Posted in Author, Uncategorized

Being a Muslim today isn’t easy. Pushed, pulled and prodded from every direction, life can be disheartening and difficult to understand.

Revive Your Heart – written by Nouman Ali Khan – is an indispensable book, offering guidance that is both bold and heartfelt to modern Muslims navigating their way through a life that is ever more destabilising.

Nouman Ali Khan is one of the world’s most recognisable Muslims. At home in America, educated in the West and spiritually trained in the East, he is uniquely able to connect with modern Muslims; understanding the challenges they face, internally and externally, on a daily basis in the 21st century, from the rise of the alternative right to the complexities of family life.

This book is the result of his experiences – at home, in his community, and as a teacher – that combine to show us how to fulfil our faith, build healthy communities, purify our finances and respond to the rise of terrorism in the name of Islam.The vital point that runs through the book however, is more holistic: how to orientate ourselves so that we may find peace, and preserve through the difficult times that lie ahead.A path that, properly navigated, will revive a heart, transform a life and lead to success in both this life and the hereafter

The Kube Editor hopes that in a world that is abuzz with “unrelenting activity constantly vying for our attention” this book can “inspire modern Muslims to become sources of light in our world through the revival of their hearts.”


PART I Connecting to Allah Through Du’a

PART II Creating a Cohesive Muslim Community

PART III Our Financial Dealings

PART IV Some Contemporary Issues

PART V Focusing on the Akhirah



Nouman Ali Khan is a Muslim speaker and the CEO and founder of Bayyinah Institute, an institute that is dedicated to the teaching of Arabic and Qur’anic studies with over 10,000 students worldwide.

One of the best known Islamic speakers in the English Language. With a combined social media following of 2.5 million and 21 million YouTube video views for his Bayyinah Institute, Nouman is one of the most influential young western speakers. Nouman Ali Khan has been named one of the most 500 most influential Muslims in the world by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre of Jordon.

Available here.



Angels in Islam – by Razana Noor

Written by R on . Posted in Children's Books, Razana Noor

Angels in Islam

Allah (subhanahu wa ta’ala) has created many different types of creatures and one type of these creatures are called Angels (or‘al-Malaikah’ in the Quran).

We cannot usually see them and they are made of pure LIGHT. They only do whatever Allah (SWT) tells them to do and they cannot ever disobey God because unlike us humans, they have no choice of their own – they have no ‘Free Will.’

They pray, worship and glorify Allah all the time.

Belief in the Angels is a big part of our faith as Muslims, like the belief in ONE God and the belief in many Prophets of God. There are some very special angels who are given extra special tasks by Allah. Some of them are mentioned below.

  • Jibrael(Gabriel): He is a very important angel. He is the angel of revelation and he revealed the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad (SAW). He also communicated with all the Prophets and he is responsible for bringing down Allah’s blessings on Laylatul Qadr (The Night of Power) on one of the last 10 nights of Ramadan. He is responsible for bringing punishment to nations who do wrong. Jibrael (alayhis salaam) is mentioned in the Quran several times.


  • Mikael(Michael): Responsible for directing the rain and winds according to the will of Allah (SWT).


  • Israfeel: Responsible for blowing the trumpet that will signal the ‘End of Time’ on this earth.


  • Azrael: Also known as malak al-maut(Judeo-Christian, Azrael), is the angel of death. He is responsible for parting the soul from the body. He is only referred to as malak al-maut in the Quran, which means the angel of death.


  • Malik: The main guardian of hell.


  • Munkar and Nakeer:Stern angels who question humans upon death regarding their beliefs. They ask three questions: who is your God? Who is your Prophet? What is your Religion? They punish those in the grave who did not believe, or were bad and disobedient in their lives.


  • Haroot and Maroot:Two angels who came to earth and taught men some  ‘black magic’ such as breaking up family and marriage as a test.


  • Kirama Katibeen:These two angels sit on every person’s right and left shoulder to record his/her good and bad.sun-1383638_1920


What do Angels look like?

According to Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW), we know these facts about angels:

  • They are made of pure LIGHT, whereas the Jinn are made from fire, and mankind is from a type of ‘clay.’
  • The angels are very large.
  • They have wings, sometimes in pairs of two, three or four.
  • They are extremely beautiful, with the exception of the Angel of Death.
  • They are neither male nor female.
  • They can take on the form of humans.
  • The angels do not eat.

Q & A


What are Angels made of?


Can they ever be bad?

No. They have no ‘free will’ They ALWAYS carry out their duties and are obedient to Allah.

Do they eat and drink?

No. They do not need to. They were made to constantly glorify and praise Allah as well as carry out tasks given to them by Allah.

How many are there?

Too many to count.

Do they have wings?

Yes. Some have 2, 4 or even 100’s of wings.

How big or small are they?

They are gigantic – bigger than mountains, but they can come in human form.

Are Angels male or female?


When do Angels come to a home?

Whenever they hear Allah being mentioned or they hear the Quran being recited, they fly over and protect that home. They LOVE listening to the Quran.

Bad Jinns (or Shayteen), are very afraid of angels because they can ZAP them with a ball of light.

When does an Angel leave the home?

Angels are very sensitive to bad words so if there is swearing going on they immediately leave. They also do not like pictures of humans or animals displayed on the walls or dogs living inside the home.

Check out ‘My Special Angels’ a children’s title that introduces the Kiraman and Katabin, the two noble scribes! written by Razana Noor and illustrated Omar Burgess.

Razana Noor

About the author: Razana was born and raised in Surrey, UK. She has a degree in Law and a diploma in Quran & Islamic Studies. Writing fun, entertaining Islamic children’s books is her passion!

Eid Fun Day at the Islamic Foundation

Written by site_admin on . Posted in News and events























Don’t miss the chance to be part of this amazing event, organised by the New Muslim Project, Leicester.

This event and the Dawud Wharnsby workshops are taking place on the same day. For people coming to the workshop, discounted tickets to this event are available.


Tickets are available on the door:

£6 per adult

£5 children 5-15 yrs

£2 children 4yrs and under

With tickets to a Dawud Wharnsby event £4 (children under 4 free)

If you would like to book in advance, please contact ruqaiyah@islamic-foundation.org.uk

An interview with Na’ima B. Robert about her forthcoming book SHE WORE RED TRAINERS

Written by site_admin on . Posted in Children's Books, News and events

This article was commissioned and published by Books for Keeps. Read the original article here.

Naima B Robert






Na’ima B Robert is ‘descended from Scottish Highlanders on her father’s side and the Zulu people on her mother’s, was born in Leeds, grew up in Zimbabwe, went to university in London and now ‘divides her time between London and Cairo’. Unsurprising, then, that her novels trade in contrasts and conflicts: between cultures, youth and experience, artistic and academic, religious and secular. But her new book, She Wore Red Trainers, is a love story. Geraldine Brennan talked to Na’ima about the book for Books for Keeps.

She Wore Red Trainers











A long hot summer waiting for A-level results, a cute boy and an opinionated girl – does a romcom-inspired plot have to be any less page-turning because the characters are Muslim?

Na’ima B Robert believes not, but her portrayal of Amirah and Ali’s growing relationship in She Wore Red Trainers, her fifth young adult novel, reflects life for contemporary young Muslims whose contact with the opposite sex is structured by the traditions of their faith and community.

So the instant physical attraction between Amirah and Ali cannot be acted on overtly: they cannot be alone together (even making eye contact is frowned upon) and it is assumed that their relationships are the business of their families.

Amirah’s influences include her divorced mother, a convert to Islam whose unhappy experiences have turned her daughter away from the early marriage that many young Muslims choose. Meanwhile her traditionally minded brother Zayd, who is responsible for approving her future husband, has rejected Ali as a potential suitor on a first meeting.

Na’ima has rooted the love story firmly in urban British Muslim culture, to offer both a story that teens growing up in this culture can relate to and a challenge to preconceived ideas about attitudes to marriage and relationships in Muslim families, such as the tradition of arranged marriage. As founding editor of the UK Muslim women’s magazine, Sisters, Na’ima is aware of the wide spectrum of interpretations of tradition, ‘more cultural than religious’, as she says.

‘I’m not saying that all Muslims live like the families in the story, but I have tried to be true to the community I am writing about and where young people I know are coming from,’ she says. ‘In a family that is functioning well the family would be highly invested in the girl’s future but it would start from what the girl really wants and she would have a space to understand and articulate that and discuss it in depth.

‘There are many variations within this. Amirah’s family is not functioning so well, her brother doesn’t understand her and her mother makes some bad decisions because she doesn’t have a lot of supportive relatives around. Zayd feels the responsibility of a father but he doesn’t have a lot of life experience and his default position is that he wants Amirah to marry someone like himself.’

But Amirah is a rebel and rejects the man Zayd chooses for her. ‘Hassan is a catch but her gut feeling says no: the gut feeling is important however you meet future partners,’ Na’ima says. ‘In an ideal world your family would understand everything you needed in a husband – in Amirah’s case this is someone who really gets her artistic side, which Ali does.’

The ‘nobody-understands-me’ misery that afflicts both Amirah and Ali is common to all teens, and Na’ima’s own teenage years in a westernised high school in Zimbabwe (she converted to Islam at 21) taught her the benefits of a more segregated environment.

‘There was pressure to cultivate a personality that boys liked. I would see girls switch on the bimbo button when boys were around and laugh at boys’ jokes whether they wanted to or not. I was at a mixed school and at 14 asked my parents to send me to a girls’ school. I found the constant pressure too much.

‘Surviving dating, the uncertainties and the heartache, and somehow keeping your self-esteem intact, is very hard for teens. It’s one of the biggest things you have to deal with at a time when you need a space to grow up and be yourself, find out who you are.’

Amirah has also tried and rejected a more mainstream teenage lifestyle and chosen to navigate relationships within Muslim culture. As in all good romcoms, she finds the space she needs with her girlfriends, who support her plan to stay single until she has made the life she wants as an artist. Although the girls have compiled a league table of fanciable boys, the lack of male companions at their café meetings, summer charity projects and glitzy nights out is presented as a benefit rather than a deprivation, as Na’ima says.

‘For Amirah and her friends, the decision is made that guys aren’t going to be part of the picture at the moment. Dating and romance is not taking up their time, it’s for later.’

Yet the story, with all its disappointments and misunderstandings between the couple who survive on a word here and a glance there, is still deeply romantic: ‘just a different kind of romance’.

Na’ima’s first readers were Muslim teenagers in Cairo where she lives for part of the year with her husband and four children. ‘They found the British teenagers different to themselves in their references to Islam – in Egypt it’s not consciously discussed in the same way. But they saw where the characters and relationships were coming from. I consciously went for a very dramatic ending and I’ve heard that many people cry at the end.’

She Wore Red Trainers is published by Kube Publishing.

Geraldine Brennan is a journalist specialising in children’s books and education, regularly reviews for theObserver and has judged several literary awards.


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