Discussed on British Muslim TV and available to view on air from February 11th, 5pm-6pm. Here is a summary of my thoughts on why we need diverse, authentic narratives to break into mainstream.
The contributions Muslim women make to society are being missed with the current lack of diversity in literature, so where are all of our voices? After all, we are out there contributing to society, but pick a chick-lit book or a popular series and they don’t include relatable themes for Muslim women.
The female Muslim narrative needs to be become more representative so a viable alternative to glamourized western ideals dominating the market can be heard above the crowd. For conscious readers who want to enjoy fiction stories, there is a unique genre called Islamic fiction. Too few UK and American publishers currently contribute to Islamic fiction and it may be because of the confusion of what Islamic fiction is, how cool it is and how preachy it may be. I want a new term. It has to be one that speaks to us and is written by us. The story should be so good it shouldn’t even matter what genre it is coined, but finding you is important. It needs to reach sisters and say, ‘Hello, I hear you. I know you are out there and contributing to society and our struggles can be different but equally as funny, emotional and important.’ It isn’t about perfection, it’s about life based on our individual and collective beliefs, what that means for us and the application of it in the modern world, which is missing from narratives available in women’s literature. Non-Muslim readers also want an authentic experience with voices emanating from within our multi-cultural community.
The availability of well written, diverse books needs to grow and it needs our support. The Islamic fashion industry is tipped to be one of the largest growing industries and caters for one of the fastest growing segments of our population, which is young Muslim women. As the fashion industry has begun to notice this hot, new demand, so our literature needs to start truly representing society as it is.
There are some great bloggers and a rise of Muslim sister book clubs all aiming to represent our views in society, but I know there are more of us out there, dreaming, reading, writing and wondering where we can find narratives that speak to us. I would love to hear your thoughts on this so get involved and join me. Let’s find a way for our voices to be represented in mainstream fiction and beyond. I want to hear your thoughts on how we do this and any ways you are doing it already. If you have written any books or know any by Muslimah authors, please share! Join in the conversation here and on Twitter @malherbegirl and via Goodreads Muslim Women’s Book Club.