Author Archive

Women in the Qur’an: An Emancipatory Reading

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What the Text is About:
Women in the Qur’an begins by addressing two dominant interpretations of Muslim women. On the one hand, a Western, 9780993516610Islamophobic approach that assumes the Muslim woman is repressed, restrained and miserable due to the confines of her religion. On the other, a conservative Islamic approach which enforces a particular reading of the Qur’an, one which seems to encourage the oppression of Muslim women in the name of Islam.
Lamrabet offers an alternative reading of the Qur’an in an attempt to show that Islam does not condone the oppression of women, and that it is in fact a religion in which women’s freedom, their right to act and right to speak, is encouraged and rewarded by God.
The main body of the text is split into three main chapters, which are outlined below:

In the Very Beginning:
Lamrabet begins with the story of human creation, of the tale of Adam and Eve. She argues against the common interpretation that Eve was created from Adam’s rib, and was therefore created for him, woman created for man. She points out that the Qur’an uses non gender-specific language, and highlights passages that suggest that male and female were created at the same time, which shows that from the very beginning, man and woman were placed on a level playing field by God.

When the Qur’an Speaks of Women:
In this section, Lamrabet draws attention to specific examples in the Qur’an that show that Muslim women are so much more than merely mothers, sisters and wives. Examples include:
• Balkis, the Queen of Sheba – a democratic ruler, a woman concerned with the political principles of equity and justice.

• Sarah and Hagar – two emblems of monotheism. Hagar is especially praised for her piety, and the instance of her running between the Al-Safa and Al-Marwah hills to rescue her thirsty child continues to be remembered by Muslims when they perform hajj at Makkah.

• Umm Musa and Asiah – a story of free women who follow God and protect their son, Musa, whilst defying the Pharaoh’s rule.

• Maryam – God’s favourite. The mother of the Prophet, she is the embodiment of strength, faith and purity. The Prophet’s title, Isa ibn Maryam, serves as a reminder that the Messiah is the child of this exceptional woman.
Through these stories, Lamrabet shows that Muslim women have important narratives, stories of faith, endurance, resistance and strength, that ought not to be overlooked.

When the Qur’an Speaks to Women:
The Qur’an is a text that speaks to all, regardless of gender or ethnicity. The masculine language in the Qur’an is gender neutral and implies human universality. However, there are instances where the discourse calls on women directly, in response to particular contexts and/or injustices. Lamrabet presents examples of the Prophet’s respect for the rights of women to freedom of expression in the following subheadings:
• Responding to feminine demands
• Encourages women social preparation
• The Muhajirat, female political refugees
• The political participation of women
• When God listens to the secrets of a woman
Once again, Lamrabet draws attention to models of women who are often neglected. There is Umm Salama, who is so committed to the path of faith that she does not hesitate to ask the Creator for greater equality within Qur’anic discourse. There are several examples of the Muhajirat, women who were active participants in the story of exile, their activism promoted by the message of Islam. Lamrabet also talks about marriage, and how the Qur’an mentions taradi, meaning ‘common agreement’ several times. This demonstrates Islam’s respect for a woman’s right to choose her future spouse, and shows that the unconditional obedience of a wife is a patriarchal, not Islamic, concept.

And the other verses?
Lamrabet also discusses interpretations of the Qur’an that appear to justify the oppression of Muslim women. She focuses on the issues of polygamy, inheritance, and marital violence, arguing that when extracted, there are particular verses that do appear to encourage misogynistic and repressive treatment of women. However, when read within their contexts and the higher objective of the holistic Qur’anic message, they do not. Lamrabet once again reiterates how vital it is to make this distinction, as the former views are ultimately damaging to Islam.

Women In the Qur’an | Buy it here →

History of Black Muslims: Another Perspective By Muhammad Mojlum Khan

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I was recently invited to a Black History Month event and I found it interesting but rather slanted due to the excessive emphasis on slavery and civil rights as if Black people in general and Black Muslims in particular had not made any worthwhile contribution in other aspects of life. Please don’t get me wrong, it is very important to study and understand the history of slavery and Black people’s valiant fight for their basic human rights in many parts of the world especially in the Americas, but it is equally important to highlight and promote the invaluable contribution made by Black Muslims throughout Islamic history.

The purpose of this short article is to briefly highlight the achievements of two remarkable Black Muslims of the past who can serve as role models for young people of all background, namely al-Jahiz and Mansa Musa.

Pages from  Kitaab al-Hayawaan by Al-Jahiz

Pages from Kitaab al-Hayawaan by Al-Jahiz

Abu Uthman Amr ibn Bahr ibn Mahbub al-Kinani al-Basri, better known as al-Jahiz or ‘goggle-eyed’, was one of the foremost theologians (mutakallim), literary critics and belletrists (adib) in the history of Islam. Born in Basra into a lowly family of the Banu Kinana around 776, he – on account of his hard work, dedication and natural talent –  went onto become an outstanding writer authoring no less than 200 works on a range of subjects including Arabic language, Qur’anic philology, theology, ethics, falsafa (natural philosophy) and literary criticism. Not bad for a child born into a poor family in eighth century Basra who had received minimal formal education during his early years, yet he was subsequently hailed as a master of the Arabic language and one of the finest writers of classical Arabic in history.

Some of al-Jahiz’s notable works include Kitab al-Hayawan (The Book of Animals) wherein he presented a sophisticated ‘argument from design’, while his Kitab al-Bayan wa’l Tabyin (Treatise on Clarity and Clarification) is an inquiry into the nature, origin and richness of Arabic language and rhetoric from a Mu’tazilite perspective.  His two other prominent works were Kitab al-Bukhala (The Book of Misers) and Risalat Mufakharat al-Sudan ala al-Bidan (Treatise on Black People). In the former, written in beautiful Arabic prose, he highlighted and openly ridiculed misers from all walks of life, while in the latter he advocated the superiority of the Black people over others, not purely on account of their race but also their physique, ability and talent. How could one possibly disagree with such a peerless intellectual and literary genius of al-Jahiz’s stature?

The other personality that deserves to be highlighted here is Mansa Keita I, better known as Mansa Musa, the fabulously wealthy ‘King of Kings’ of the West African Mali Empire. Born into royalty, he lived during the latter part of the thirteenth and early decades of the fourteenth century, inheriting an empire that was not only vast in size but also blessed with tremendous wealth and richness. Prominent Muslim historians like al-Dukkali and Ibn Khaldun have written about Mansa Musa as did Ibn Battutah. He was a devout Muslim who patronised Islamic learning and scholarship, and lived by the dictates of his faith, and displayed remarkable acts of kindness, generosity and compassion.

Mansa Musa sitting on a throne and holding a gold coin from the 1357 Catalan Atlas.  "Catalan Atlas BNF Sheet 6 Mansa Musa" attributed to Abraham Cresques.

Mansa Musa sitting on a throne and holding a gold coin from the 1357 Catalan Atlas.
Catalan Atlas BNF Sheet 6 Mansa Musa attributed to Abraham Cresques.

Although Mansa Musa is best known for his famous pilgrimage to Makkah in 1324 accompanied by a very large entourage, consisting of around 60,000 people, lavishing his hosts and guests with unexpected gifts of gold, silver and money on his way to the sacred city of Islam, however it is worth highlighting that he ruled such a wealthy and vast African empire at a time when most of Europe was still lingering in the Dark Ages. Yes, Europe’s darkness was Africa’s enlightenment!

In other words, the history of Black Muslims is littered with exemplary personalities, outstanding achievements and unrivalled epochs, and they need to be highlighted too, not for nostalgic reasons, but for motivational and instructive purpose, and to inspire the present and future generations.

 

*Muhammad Mojlum Khan is an award-winning writer, historian, literary critic, and research scholar. He has published around 200 essays and articles worldwide, and his writings have been translated into several languages. He is author of the acclaimed The Muslim 100 (Kube, 2008), The Muslim Heritage of Bengal (Kube, 2013), and is currently writing a book on the Muslim heritage of the West (Kube, forthcoming 2016). He is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain and the Director of Bengal Muslim Research Institute UK.

From Kube Shelves

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This week from Kube Shelves we have three very different narratives covering contemporary history and a personal reflective account of the Muslim state in 21st century western world.

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Paradise on Fire: Syed Ali Geelani and the Struggle for Freedom in Kashmir by Abdul Hakeem is a passionate and committed account of Kashmir’s struggle for freedom over the last 65 years, and a close-up and personal study of its leading figure, Syed Ali Geelani, which gets behind the stereotype of Indian Muslims as terrorists.

Wandering Lonely in a Crowd: Reflections on the Muslim Condition in the West by S.M. Atif Imtiaz is a timely collection of essays, articles, lectures and short stories that have been written during the Bush years, a time of political uncertainty for British Muslims after 2001. They cover the themes of integration, community cohesion, terrorism, radicalisation, cultural difference, multiculturalism, identity politics and liberalism. Imtiaz responds to the predicament of being a Muslim in modern Britain.

The Last of the Lascars: Yemeni Muslims in Britain (1836-2012) by Mohammad Siddique Seddon charts the fascinating and little-known history of Britain’s oldest Muslim community.

African Muslims in 19th Century Brazil by Habeeb Akande

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African Muslims practising cupping in 19th century Brazil

Historically, the impact that African Muslims had on Brazilian history is often overlooked. Between the 16th and 19th centuries over 5 million enslaved Africans were transported to Brazil, in which approximately 30% of the slaves brought over in the 19th century were reportedly Muslims from West Africa. The Muslims, primarily from the Yoruba and Hausa ethnic groups, led a series of revolts between 1807 and 1835, set up Islamic schools and valiantly tried to preserve their faith in horrid conditions. Over a century later, the heroic exploits of the African Muslims inspired the revival of Islam in Brazil in the 1990s as growing numbers of Brazilian Muslims cited the African Muslims as a source of encouragement in converting to Islam, as well as fighting social inequalities in modern day Brazil.

Slave Revolts in Bahia, 1807-1835

Although there were a number of revolts in 19th century Bahia involving Muslim and non-Muslim Africans, the 1835 revolt gained the most attention. This was due to the organisation and commitment of the Yoruba Muslims (known as Malés) who led the uprising which took place on the 25th Janauary 1835, coinciding with the night of lalytul al-Qadr (The Night of Power) on the 25th night of Ramadan.

The uprising was soon quelled after an informant told the Brazilian authorities about the African Muslims’ plot. A number of the suspected leaders of the revolt were later arrested, put on trial and executed. The numerous slaves who were suspected of taking part in the revolt were given punishments ranging from imprisonment to lashings.

Amulet found by police after the 1835 revolt

After the revolt, a general fear of the African Muslims gripped the Brazilian government who passed laws that led to a mass deportation of the Muslims back to Africa. The 1835 revolt spurred the anti-slavery movement throughout Brazil which eventually came to an end in 1888.

Establishing Islamic Schools in Bahia

The African Muslims in Brazil were also known to be dedicated to literacy and pursuing knowledge.

In the early 20th century there were a number of alufás (religious leaders) African Muslims residing in Rio de Janeiro. Many of the Hausa and Yoruba Muslims were very knowledgeable about the Qur’ān and taught their students the tenets of Islam in secret Qur’ānic schools.

To become an alufá required a period of great study, and rigorous exams. After passing the exams, the student would be taken along the streets of a distant suburb on horseback in triumph, followed by the faithful.

Oftentimes keeping themselves distant from the non-Muslims out of fear of persecution, the Muslims practised their faith in secrecy after the revolts. Unfortunately the Muslim community was not able to preserve their faith for successive generations due to the difficult conditions they faced.

The Islamic Revival in Brazil

It wasn’t until the 1990s, and the migration of African Muslim students and workers to Brazil, that Islam began to rise again in the country, and Brazilian-born people started to accept Islam.

Conversion to Islam was particularly strong in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Recife and Salvador. The Muslim community in Salvador, the place of the 1835 revolt, has been particularly strong and close-knit since the establishment of its mosque and cultural centre in 1991 after a wealthy Arab Muslim businessman from Sao Paulo learnt about the city’s Islamic legacy.

Since 1992 the Muslim community in Salvador has been led by a Nigerian shaykh who actively serves the Muslim and non-Muslim community, teaching people about Islam, Arabic and Afro-Brazilian history.

At present, the number of Muslims embracing Islam is continuing to grow as more Brazilians are discovering the great history of the African Muslims who bravely fought for their freedom in 19th century Bahia.

Habeeb Akande, author of Illuminating the Blackness: Blacks and African Muslims in Brazil . His new book exploring the rich African history of Brazil will be available at the end of this year.

Illuminating the Blackness - Blacks and African Muslims in Brazil

Illuminating the Blackness – Blacks and African Muslims in Brazil

From Kube Shelves

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This week from Kube Shelves we have 3 different and engaging titles on various episodes of Islamic history.

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Muslim Civilisation: The Causes of Decline and the Need for Reform by M. Umer Chapra – Muslim civilisation has experienced an overall decline during the last five centuries after having witnessed a long period of prosperity and comprehensive development. This raises a number of questions such as what factors enabled Muslims to become successful during the earlier centuries of Islam and what led them to their present weak position. Is it Islam which is responsible for this decline or are there some other factors which come into play? Dr Chapra, in this penetrating study has tried to answer these questions thoroughly and has then discussed a reform programme that could reverse the cycle of decline

Discovering the Ottomans by Ilber Ortayli – What was the significance of the Ottoman Empire? What kind of lives did people live? What lessons can be drawn from the civilisation that the Ottomans created? What does the Ottoman Empire mean to us today? One of Turkey’s leading historians answers all these questions in Discovering the Ottomans, a brilliant set of learned and engaging reflections on the everyday life, legacy and enduring relevance of the Ottomans.

Islam in Victorian Britain: The Life and Times of Abdullah Quilliam – This is the first full biography of Abdullah Quilliam (1856-1932), the most significant Muslim personality in nineteenth-century Britain. Uniquely ennobled Sheikh of Islam of the British Isles by the Ottoman Caliph, Sultan Abdul Hamid II in 1893, Quilliam, as a charismatic preacher, created a remarkable community of Muslims in Victorian Liverpool, which included a substantial number of converts.

 

 

From Kube Shelves…

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This week From Kube Shelves we have two very interesting and different reads covering spirituality in worship and a scholarly critique on Jihad.

 

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Worship in Islam: An In-Depth Study of Ibadah, Salah and Sawm is an in-depth study of the nature and significance of Islamic spirituality by Abul A’la Mawdudi (1903-79), one of the leading Muslim intellectuals of the twentieth century, with special reference to the concepts of God’s Oneness, the finality of the Prophethood and the Islamic system of worship and a focus upon prayer and fasting and their role in their development of the Islamic personality and Islam’s social order. Mawdudi’s elaborative approach of the social dimension of worship and its transformative role in social life makes this a unique work on the subject of worship in Islam.

In Reclaiming Jihad: A Qur’anic Critique of Terrorism Elsayed Amin engages with the Qur’an exegetical tradition, both classical and contemporary, critiquing misreadings of the Qur’an that have been used to justify terrorism. At a time when terrorism and extremism is commonly associated with Islam in general, this pointed rejection of such practises and positions based on the Qur’an is an essential work that will challenge beliefs and change perceptions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Muharram 1437

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Last week Thursday 15th October marked the beginning of the new Islamic year 1437. The beginning of the Islamic calendar not only marks a new year but also one of the 4 sacred months in Islam. The month of Muharram is symbolic for the spiritual sacrifice, devotion and patience shown in the story of the migration of the Prophet (saw) and his companions. This time of year provides an apt opportunity for self-reflection, setting new goals and developing new habits for the year ahead. And what better way to achieve this than through reading!

To encourage more reading this year we are launching Kube’s annual reading challenge. The idea is to complete reading at least 1 book every month – avid readers let us not hold you back and read away if you can do more than 1. The concept is easy:

      Simply choose a book to read at the beginning of each month

      Read the book

–       Share your thoughts with us at #KubeReads1437

It really is as simple as that. If you’re not sure where to start we have gathered some great, intellectually engaging, and spiritually nourishing titles you might like try out.

BIOGRAPHIES & HISTORY

The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X & Alex Haley

The Autobiography of Malcolm X
by Malcolm X & Alex Haley

 

Islam in Victorian Britain| The Life and Times of Abdullah Quilliam by Ro Geaves

Islam in Victorian Britain| The Life and Times of Abdullah Quilliam
by Rob Geaves

 

SPIRITUAL & PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT

7 Steps to Spiritual Intelligence by Musharraf Hussain

7 Steps to Spiritual Intelligence
by Musharraf Hussain

 

Life Coaching for Muslims by Sayeda Habib

Life Coaching for Muslims
by Sayeda Habib

 

Tazkiyah| The Islamic Path of Self-Development by Abdur Rahman Siddiqui

Tazkiyah| The Islamic Path of Self-Development
by Abdur Rahman Siddiqui

 

YOUNG ADULT

She Wore Red Trainers by Na'ima B. Roberts

She Wore Red Trainers
by Na’ima B. Roberts

 

When Wings Expand by Mehded Maryam Sinclair

When Wings Expand
by Mehded Maryam Sinclair

 

Parents you might enjoy checking out these titles for your little ones…

Prayer Activity Book by Aysenur Gunes & Illustrated by Ercan Polat

Prayer Activity Book
by Aysenur Gunes & Illustrated by Ercan Polat

 

Muslim All Stars by Khaleel Muhammad

Muslim All Stars
by Khaleel Muhammad

 

I Wonder About Allah by Ozkan Oze

I Wonder About Allah
by Ozkan Oze

 

We have a great year planned ahead with some exciting new titles coming out soon at Kube, be sure to keep updated by signing up to our newsletter.

Have you compiled your reading list for this new year? Tell us what titles you are reading, we would love to hear your thoughts on Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest using the hashtag #KubeReads1437.

Eid Party Pictures

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The Islamic Foundation hosted an Eid Party to remember on 19 July 2015. Kube Publishing took part by organising a craft corner where children were invited to complete activities from some of our publications, build a mosque and let their imaginations run wild with pens, paper, glue, gems and more.

View the slideshow below:
Eid Party! 2015 at The Islamic Foundation, Markfield

Eid Party at the Islamic Foundation

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Don’t miss the chance to be a part of the 2015 Eid Party at the Islamic Foundation in Markfield!

With so many fun activities for all the family, it is the perfect way to celebrate and have a very special Eid together.

Previous years have been a huge success with thousands of people joining us for a fun and memorable day that they can share with friends, family and fellow Muslims from around the country.

Eid Fair 2013 4 Eid Fair 2013 3 Eid Fair 2013 2Eid Fair 2014 DW

Tickets are available on the day at the gate:

£6 Adults

£5 Children 5-15 yrs

£2 Children 4 yrs and under

On site parking will be available at £3 for the whole day

 

For more information e-mail: batool@islamic-foundation.org.uk

Authors Share What They Will Read in Ramadan!

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As part of our campaign to encourage more people to Read in Ramadan, we have asked some prominent authors of Muslim literature to share what is on their reading list!

We hope it inspires you to read, share and give more books this Ramadan and Eid. Join the discussion using the hashtag #ReadInRamadan and celebrate the growing number of books available on Islam and Muslim experience.

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Sufiya Ahmed:

This ramadhan is very special to me because I am going to be spending it with my little nephew. I’ve already decided that he and I are going to read nasheeds together that will raise the spiritual levels of our holy month for him. The two favourite nasheed books that I have selected are Colours of Islam by Dawud Wharnsby and Muslim Nursery Rhymes. Of course for myself I will be re-reading the Quran in English as ramadhan is a time of reflection.

Sufiya Ahmed is author of Secrets of a Henna Girlavailable from GoodReads.

 

J. Samia Mair:

When talking books, I like to talk categories. Outside of Ramadan, I am reading a lot of different types of books at a time: Qur’an, translation of the Qur’an, tafsir, seerah, fiqh, hadith, something spiritual, du’as, Islamic history, and one or two others. Some of the books I try to read a little bit each day; others, I read as much as I can at a sitting. But Ramadan is different. Ramadan is the month of the Qur’an, so I put aside all other books except the Qur’an, a translation of the Qur’an, and tafsir. I find focusing on the Qur’an connects me to this blessed month better than when I continue to read from my usual reading list.

J. Samia Mair is the author of Amira’s Totally Chocolate World, The Perfect Gift, The Great Race to Sycamore Street and Zak and His Good Intentions. She writes in several genres, including children’s fiction, short stories, essays, book reviews, scientific articles, and poetry.

 

Abdur Raheem Kidwai:

Ramadan is an excellent time for soul-searching and self-development. Reading good titles may help in attaining this. I would love to read the following titles by Kube Publishing during Ramadan. 1) A Treasury of Hadith: A Commentary on Imam Nawawi’s Selection of the Prophet’s Traditions. Imam Nawawi is an authoritative commentator on the Prophet’s authentic ahadith. Its study will help grasp better the Islamic worldview and contribute to self-purgation.  2) Reclaiming Jihad: A Quranic Critique of Terrorism. This title facilitates our understanding of the burning issues of the day confronted by Muslims everywhere— the true concept of Jihad and how it is abused for the mindless acts of violence by degrading the lofty and noble concept of Jihad. 3) Prophet Muhammed as the Role Model for Muslim Minorities by Yasin Mazhar Siddiqui. This valuable publication by the Islamic Foundation guides Muslims in the West how to lead life in a non-Muslim society, as instructed by the Prophet (PBUH). It illustrates how to attain the ideals of peaceful coexistence and cordial social relations with the adherents of other faiths while maintaining our commitment to Islam.

Abdur Raheem Kidwai is the author of the Daily Wisdom series and The Quran: Essential Teaching. He is Professor of English at the Aligarh Muslim University, India and Visiting Fellow, School of English, University of Leicester, UK.

 

Sana Munshey:

Much of the importance of Ramadan comes from the fact that it is the month of the Quran.  So, first and foremost, I would encourage parents and children of all ages to read, recite, listen to and reflect over the message of the Quran during the month of Ramadan.  After that, I would suggest choosing age appropriate books that talk about fasting, and the lessons learned from fasting; the virtues of Ramadan and the story of the revelation of the Quran (which began in Ramadan); and of course books about Eid! Children anxiously look forward to all the festivities of Eid al Fitr, making it a popular topic to read about during the month of Ramadan. Some books I hope to read with my kids this Ramadan, which I have not read as of yet are: A Party in Ramadan, Under the Ramadan Moon, Rashad’s Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr, My First Ramadan, The Best Eid Ever, Laila’s Lunchbox, Ameena’s Ramadan Diary, and Hamza’s First Fast.

Sana Munshey is the author of We’re Off to Make ‘Umrah. Her new title We’re Off to Pray is an upcoming release from Kube. Mother of four, Sana is currently residing in Qatar, but home is still Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.

 

Jamal Orme:

I’m afraid books are my weakness, so perhaps I need to show a bit of Ramadan discipline and read a little less this year! Still, I’ll share what’s on my menu for Ramadan 2015, inshallah.

Having enjoyed his previous seerah tome, I’ll try to pace myself through Adil Salahi’s latest biography of Untitledthe Prophet, peace be upon him, Muhammad: His Character and Conduct. Alongside that, I’m hoping to put my nose in a book or two on QiGong (and hoping even more that I can figure out how to do the moves…) – definitely good for keeping the energy up in Ramadan!

My children and I will be finishing off The 7 Professors of the Far North, a riveting adventure book by John Fardell. Otherwise, my sons are currently devouring all books on football, so we might investigate whether Theo Walcott’s writing is as impressive as his recent goal scoring.

A Blessed Ramadan to all!

Jamal Orme is author of The Victory Boys and The Victory Boys: Team Spirit. Educational roles have taken him to the UAE and Saudi Arabia, where daily he encourages his children to become Derby County fans like himself.

 

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