Muslim Bookstagram Awards 2021

Muslim Matters - 15 October, 2021 - 05:19

The Muslim Bookstagram Awards is an annual celebration of Muslim voices in publishing, from mainstream publishers, Islamic publishers, or authors who self-publish. Hosted by and featuring a panel of well-known Muslimah reviewers from bookstagram, the MBRA takes in nominations from other readers before finally judging the entries and announcing the winners! Muslimmmatters is proud to host the Muslim Bookstagram Awards. Winners will be announced on MM.

What is Muslim Bookstagram?

Muslim Bookstagram is the unofficial name for the niche space on Instagram where Muslim book lovers reside! It is a vibrant community of readers, writers, librarians, bookstore owners, and all those who are bookishly inclined. Book reviews are shared, new and old publications highlighted, and deep discussions about publishing, representation, and storytelling are had. Muslim Bookstagram has become both an amazing space for valuable conversations and a resource for Muslim parents as well as anyone else interested in diverse, representative literature. 

Who are the judges of the MBA?

Amire is a Mechanical Drafter by trade and a reader by heart! Her meticulous nature helps her identify quality and assess books. Amire not only helps online viewers with selecting Islamic content but also curates books for her local masjid library. Her background in Islamic knowledge has made her an authentic resource for Muslim parents wanting authentic Islamic books. Follow her on @muslimkidsbooknook

Shifa Saltagi Safadi is the author of three books published by Ruqaya’s Bookshelf and an Islamic book reviewer. She has been an avid book reader as long as she can remember, and in fact graduated with a degree in English literature. She curates a monthly Islamic subscription box for kids called Bismillah Box Kids and is obsessed with Muslim toys and crafts! Find her Islamic reviews of books, products, and more on Instagram: @muslimmommyblog

Kirin Nabi is a former Islamic School Librarian who now hosts (often virtual) story times for the local Islamic school as well as for the larger Muslim community at the masjid. She runs an Islamic middle school book club, stewards two little free libraries, and blogs about children’s and YA books by Muslim authors or books containing Muslim characters at Find her on instagram: @islamicschoollibrarian

Zainab bint Younus is a Canadian Muslim woman who writes on Muslim women’s issues, gender related injustice in the Muslim community, and Muslim women in Islamic history. She also provides in-depth book reviews of Muslamic literature on her Instagram account, covering everything from YA and adult fiction, academic treatises, and Islamic religious literature. You can find her on Instagram (@bintyounus) and support her via Patreon (

Nominate Your Favourites!

Click here to nominate your favourite Muslim publication of 2021 for the Muslim Bookstagram Awards! 

Nominations will close on December 1, 2021, and winners will be announced on January 14, 2022! 

Support our sponsors!

Our sponsors are generously providing the prizes for this year’s Muslim Bookstagram Awards! A $50 USD gift card to our sponsors’ stores will be awarded to the winners of each category. 

MuslimMemories is a Muslim online gift shop based in the USA, selling everything from children’s books, Muslim-themed stationery and decor, Islamic educational toys, clothing, houseware, and more! Featuring international shipping, MuslimMemories has everything you need to create beautiful Muslim memories for your family.  and Instagram: @muslim.memories

Happy Street Store is the premier curated shopping experience created for Muslims raising a family surrounded by Western culture. Happy Street believes in living a beautiful and fabulous life surrounded by Islamic values, by solving Western Muslim families’ “Islamic Exposure” problem with quality and beautiful products that help celebrate life’s day to day and special moments. and Instagram:  @happystreet_store

Days of Eid is an American-Muslim family-owned business that was founded to fill the need for well designed, high quality Eid decorations for Muslim families. Days of Eid believes in the value of nurturing a home that inspires meaning in our children’s everyday lives, and connects them to who they are. For Days of Eid, the future is as bright as that first light as we continue empowering Muslims’ identities everywhere. and Instagram: @daysofeid

Bismillah Box Kids is the first Muslim kid’s subscription box, curated by the expert in Islamic children’s products, Shifa Saltagi Safadi, and created by Sara Ajabri, CEO of Bismillah Box. Bismillah Box Kids provides busy parents with authentic Islamic products and books that they can trust will benefit their children. Each month will deliver a themed, age-appropriate box of Islamic products sure to inspire imagination and a love for iman. and on Instagram: @bismillahboxkids

Deen Hubb is a boutique Islamic bookstore located in the USA, featuring books and items brought from Malaysia and Singapore. Featuring everything from stickers, enamel pins, and books to Islamic toys and educational materials, you’re bound to find plenty of goodies to get you excited! and on Instagram: @deenhubb

TC Creative Co. is a brand dedicated to helping you create memories with personalized gifts inspired by faith. TCCC offers you high quality, unique, and customized lifestyle products that are made with love and duas. With incredibly unique items such as Ramadan and Eid themed family pajamas, Muslim kitchen decor, wedding gifts, and fun accessories, you’ll be blown away by the creativity of the selections! and on Instagram:

Eastern Toybox is the brainchild of a former Montessori teacher, who understood the dire need for high-quality, culturally diverse educational toys for Muslim children. Eastern Toybox offers “Western Treasures, with an Eastern Twist” – a unique product line that appeals to the environmentally and socially conscious consumer, with eco-friendly and fairtrade items. and on Instagram: @easterntoybox

Jasmine & Marigold is a children’s clothing store with unique items that celebrate Eastern cultures! Their lush, delectably soft bamboo rompers, PJs, hats, blankets, and more will have your baby cooing in delight while you take hundreds of pictures of your adorable little one. and on Instagram: @jasmineandmarigold

Crescent Moon Bookstore carefully curates books, toys, games, stationery, and home decor for every Muslim household! Crescent Moon was created for all of us wanting to make our homes and the world a better place. A portion of all proceeds goes to several different children’s charities around the world for humanitarian aid. and on Instagram: @crescentmoonbookstore 

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Domestic Violence And The Muslim Community

Muslim Matters - 13 October, 2021 - 03:25
What is Domestic Violence? 

Domestic violence is a pattern of ongoing hurtful, manipulative, or controlling activities, including physical, sexual, financial, religious, psychological, emotional, and verbal abuse. 

Domestic violence is a taboo subject with disastrous consequences in the Islamic community.  Domestic Violence is not a private matter.  This misunderstanding has not only been perpetuated within certain communities, but it is also widely misunderstood in the Muslim community. It is a crime and shouldn’t happen anywhere or to anyone and we have to talk about it.  As we may know, domestic violence is not specific to a particular religious group; there are one in six women who have experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former partner in their lifetime.

While domestic violence exists in both Muslim and non-Muslim societies, the position of Islam on the kind treatment of women is very clear as mentioned in the Quran and exemplified through the life and character of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

A reflection of a Muslim’s good character is the treatment of his wife which is a reflection of his faith.  The Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) character exemplified how one should be good to his wife, how he should smile and not hurt her emotionally or physically, how he should remove anything that will harm her, how he should treat her gently, and be patient with her, how he should communicate effectively with her and also involve her in decision making and support her in times and difficult times.

The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) instructs men to be nice to their wives and to treat them well to the best of their ability. A Muslim who is devout should always remember that pleasing his wife is part of his faith and he will earn the pleasure of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) while dealing with her unjustly will only earn God’s anger.

We as Muslims, need to continuously focus on the Islamic position regarding domestic violence which is drawn from the Quran.

The Quran clearly illustrates the relationship between spouses. The Quran says the relationship is based on tranquility, unconditional love, tenderness, protection, encouragement, peace, kindness, comfort, justice, and mercy.

Prophet, Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), set direct examples of the idea of a marital relationship in his personal life. As there is no clearer prophetic saying about a husband’s responsibility toward his wife than the response that was given by the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) which stressed the importance of kindness toward women in his farewell pilgrimage. Abusive behavior towards a woman is forbidden due to the fact that it contradicts the objectives of Islam,  specifically the preservation of life and reason, and the Quranic injunctions of righteousness and kind treatment.

domestic violence,

The Prophet took several measures to end the abuse of women:
  1. He fought abusive behavior in word and deed:
  • The Prophet used his sermons repeatedly to order men to stop abusive behavior towards women.
  • He once called an emergency community meeting to address the issue of men beating their wives, as described above.
  • The Prophet forbade women’s sexual exploitation and harassment, as well as the stalking of women.
  • Women could seek justice and divorce against abusive husbands.
  • Instituted punishment by law for those who falsely accuse women.
  • He prohibited men from stopping their spouses from attending the mosque.
  1. He empowered women:
  • The Quran declared that women have rights similar to men.
  • He established women’s right to inheritance while declaring that they were not obligated to use their personal wealth to assist husbands in covering household expenses.
  • The Quran ordered that women be consulted in family and community affairs.
  • He instituted educational programs for women. Many women became teachers in his lifetime.
What Imams can do today?

Listen to the Community

As an imam, you are the listening post of the community. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you listening?
  • Are you accessible to women in your masjids?
  • Do women know the masjid’s phone number?
  • Do you have a set time available exclusively for women when they can talk to you and discuss issues of concern directly with you in a safe manner?
  1. Learn About the Problem – There are different types of abuse: physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, and others. Know what types of abuse there are and familiarize yourself with their telltale signs.
  1. Be proactive about domestic violence – Domestic violence is not a private matter between a husband and a wife that should be ignored. Domestic violence can lead to the sister being murdered and the brother being put in jail.
  2. Understand that this is not a personal matter – Domestic violence is not a private matter between a husband and a wife that should be ignored.
  1. Approach domestic violence as you would any social problem – Provide solutions, not just threats of Hellfire to men who abuse.
  1. Know the services available – If your town has a Muslim-run battered women shelter, you are very blessed.

Please do the following:

  •  keep their contact information handy
  • *put their info in the Masjid, Islamic center, or community newsletter
  • *ask your board to support them financially
  • *help them raise funds for their shelter 

If you’re based in the Carolinas, Penny Appeal USA’s Baitul Hemayah Shelter offers:

  • 24-hour crisis hotline (704)763-1773
  • Counseling
  • Safety Planning
  • Referrals
  • Temporary food and housing
  • Employment Assistance and much more
  1.     Be able to assess a crisis and protection plans

Consult a Domestic Violence Counselor about knowing how to assess the level of crisis in a home and help women develop protection plans.  If your masjid is not familiar with this process, please reach out to your local Muslim-run Domestic Violence Shelter.

  1. Prepare your community for zero tolerance

 A Khutba or several sermons on this topic could be structured 

  1. Make Dua

Pray for our neighbors who are suffering from this problem of domestic violence. 

 There is help out there so don’t be afraid of looking for it.  Penny Appeal USA and its staff will listen and help you to decide upon the best course of action.  They will also provide some guidelines to assist you with your own safety, and that of your children.  Be on guard, too, even if you have left your abusive partner since you need to keep alert.

Sa’idah Sudan is the Domestic Violence Project Lead at the first Muslim-run domestic violence shelter by Penny Appeal USA, Charlotte, NC

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Can Labour tackle the private school problem now?

Indigo Jo Blogs - 9 October, 2021 - 17:13
How state school funding has decreased relative to private fees since 2010. For more detail see this IFS report.

Yesterday I saw a tweet by the Labour MP Rachel Reeves saying that, “as Labour chancellor”, she would end the charitable status of private schools which costs the public £1.7billion per year, and move that money into the state education system where it is needed. She quoted another tweet by another Labour MP, Wes Streeting, which showed an IFS graphic (right) showing that while spending per pupil in private schools had risen steadily since around 2000, the figure for state schools rose roughly with private schools until 2010 and then dropped dramatically, and while it has risen for certain periods since, it has never come close to the 2010 figure. It would be interesting if Labour were to take the bull by the horns on this issue in a forthcoming general election, as it is something they have broached in the past, or their politicians have, and have run into a storm of media opposition and backed down.

I recall Clare Short raising the issue of private schools’ charitable status back in the mid-1990s when Labour were in opposition. When the Daily Mail and other right-wing newspapers made their opposition to it very clear, Blair disowned the policy and the institutions retained their charitable status throughout his time in office. He did abolish the assisted places scheme, by which a small number of children received state-assisted places at private schools, after complaints that it “creamed off” more motivated pupils from state schools and left the latter impoverished. He also abolished the grant-maintained school system which had allowed some state schools to opt out of local authority control, receiving a grant from central government, under which a small number of private schools entered the state school system. This policy was reversed later on during the Labour years with some schools becoming “city academies”, later just academies, also maintained by central government with a minority sponsorship from a private company. This status was to be imposed on schools deemed to be failing, even if the problems were temporary.

In the 90s, a common defence of private schools was that they freed up places in state schools: the wealthy paid for their own children’s education as well as paying through taxes for everyone else’s, which they did not use. The problem with this is that when anyone of means pays for private education, state schools become less diverse and typically only serve children of poor to lower middle class families. When members of parliament are typically people of means as a result of high MPs’ salaries as well as the extraneous jobs they may acquire because of their connections, state schools are no longer a priority for those who run our country: they are schools for other people’s children, not theirs. As well as class sizes going up and buildings falling into disrepair because of reduced finances, they become the focus of endless political interference with constant changes to the curriculum and to their governance and management, while private schools remain stable and fees continue to buy small class sizes.

Another common defence is that private schools offer a choice of school model: some offer religious education other than Catholic or Anglican, some are Steiner schools or follow some other educational philosophy. This is all well and good, but it seems most private schools that are not special schools simply offer an ‘improved’ traditional educational model; they tend to be grammar schools with the usual trappings of British institutional schooling such as uniforms and prefects. Very often the low-ranking private schools target wealthy families whose children failed the local 11-plus or failed to get into the ‘good’ comprehensives, or those who want a grammar school education in a borough or county where it is not available on the state. I have heard that some private schools have served some children with special needs who had been unable to cope in a large mainstream secondary school fairly well, sometimes offering reduced fees, though these arrangements have often become untenable since the pandemic hit. The question is, however, why should such choice not be available to everyone, including the choice of a small, friendly school?

Private schools that have charitable status often do little to justify that status. They provide bursaries, but often they are partial and even ‘full’ bursaries do not cover the costs of things like uniforms. In some schools pupils are required to bring tablets, which may still be beyond some parents’ reach but not beyond that of parents who can afford private school fees. They are often lax in protecting children from bullying, especially as those from poorer families are clearly identifiable as the “charity case” and stick out as different; private schools have featured heavily in recent exposures of sexual harassment and assaults as well as racism in prestigious schools. The selling point is the lack of diversity, the lack of tolerance for dissent, the “my way or the highway, fit in or get out” environment. And state schools often have to pick up the tab when private schools fail; when Winton School in Croydon closed suddenly in 1994 for financial and safety reasons, the borough had to find places for nearly 140 pupils at short notice (E. Blyth & J. Milner, 1996).

It seems that more of the public has woken up to the damage the private sector does; more and more of our political class, especially in the Tory party which has reverted to type after two state educated leaders in the 80s and 90s, and more of our media are dominated by its products and the damage that boarding schools do has become better understood, as evidenced by the sharp decline in the number of special boarding schools for disabled children. Yet simply removing the schools’ charitable status may well lead to some of them not even pretending to deliver a public good but just paying their taxes and teaching the children of the wealthy. In other European countries, private education has been banned or is much less powerful than it is here, only serving the extremely wealthy or expatriates (in their own language). Here, the private sector is vast and diverse and reforming it will be a very complicated process, and Labour must have a clear idea as to how they will do it. Our private schools take pupils from around the world, not just the British rich.

It’s not acceptable that most people only have access to large secondary schools which are often (and increasingly) rule-ridden, overly hierarchical, infested with bullies (pupils and staff), with uncomfortable uniforms rigidly enforced by image-obsessed “leadership teams”. People, including those in cities, should have access to a choice of educational models; this should not be the preserve of the wealthy. Schools which provide alternative models should be supported, as should home-educating parents, especially where their children have been frozen out of school as a result of disability. The private grammar schools, however, must be abolished if they will not come into the state school system. State schools must be for everyone’s children, not for other people’s.

Eric Blyth & Judith Milner, Unsaleable Goods and the Education Market; published in Reshaping Education In The 1990s: Perspectives On Secondary Schooling by R. Chawla-Duggan & C.J. Pole, Routledge, 1996. Image source: Institute for Fiscal Studies, via Wes Streeting MP on Twitter.

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Sarah Everard, the police and the public

Indigo Jo Blogs - 3 October, 2021 - 19:55
A white woman wearing a blue face mask laying flowers at the base of a tree where a number of other flowers have been left. A banner attached to he tree reads "Reclaim these streets" and other banners can be seen on the wall behind, including one saying "Rest in love Sarah; you deserved to make it home safe". Another white woman, wearing a pink mask, if standing in front of the wall.A woman laying flowers at a vigil for Sarah Everard in Sheffield.

Last week, a former Metropolitan (i.e. London) Police officer named Wayne Couzens was sentenced to life imprisonment for the rape and murder of Sarah Everard, a woman he falsely arrested on Covid rules violation charges and then abducted, raped and murdered last March towards the end of the most recent lockdown. He was given a whole-life tariff, i.e. life without parole, because of the particularly aggravating matter of having abused his policing powers to abduct someone for personal gratification and because the action struck at the heart of policing by public consent and the rule of law. Over the last week or so, there has been talk of women feeling increasingly unsafe as it has become obvious that the police as well as random men are a threat to their safety, especially at night, and of them giving their daughters a similar talk to those that Black and other non-white parents give their children, especially their sons, on how to deal with the police. The way Couzens was able to gain sensitive roles and move from one constabulary to another despite numerous accusations of sexual misconduct (in a previous job, not with the Met, he was known as “the rapist”) and had not been suspended recently despite being accused of exposing himself in a MacDonalds has shed a light on how the Met fails to deal with predators in its ranks. Cressida Dick, the Met police commissioner who has weathered a number of other scandals and recently had her contract extended by two years, gave a statement the night of Couzens’s conviction which seemed to me to be devoid of any emotion and has refused to resign and is being supported in this by both the prime minister and the current leader of the Labour opposition, Keir Starmer.

On social media the afternoon following his conviction, I read suggestions that he must not have been acting alone and that this was probably not his first murder. I’m not convinced by this. Couzens used a hire car which could be easily traced to him, and abducted a woman from a main road in Clapham; main roads in London are very well covered by CCTV and buses all have forward-facing cameras to record vehicles in bus lanes that should not be there. I can think of three possibilities: first, he was counting on the support of other officers; second, that he just thought he was cleverer than he really was, and third, that this had been something he had been wanting to do for some time and avoiding getting caught was less important than actually fulfilling his aim. He made serious attempts to harm himself while in custody following his arrest, so it is possible that he intended to kill himself if caught and might make further attempts in prison.

Police chiefs have made suggestions as to how the public can protect themselves from false arrests, such as trying to flag down a passing bus or running to someone’s house, all of which have been roundly ridiculed as buses will simply not stop away from official bus stops and you cannot guarantee that the particular house you run to will be occupied or that the occupier will open the front door. Others have suggested that women should be more ‘streetwise’ and read up on their rights. What is needed is for the rules of how a police officer can or will arrest a member of the public to be clarified and, if necessary, changed. After all, the idea of abducting someone by using a false arrest is a genie that is now out of the bottle and the next person who tries this might be cleverer and less cocky than Wayne Couzens; the danger could come from a real police officer or an impersonator. The first change should be that nobody should be required to get into a car other than an identifiable police car or van, and I do not include cars with blue lights but no livery. The second is that off-duty police officers should not carry their warrant cards but be issued with an ID card that identifies them to other officers, allowing them to assist in the event of an incident, but should not confer powers of arrest, or at least powers to transport the arrested person anywhere. Police do not normally use such vehicles to transport arrested people; this norm must be made into well-known standard practice; the “don’t normallys” must become “nevers” and “can’ts”. This way, anybody witnessing an incident like this in future is under no illusions that this is a false arrest and are less likely to walk on by.

That Couzens could do this so easily, and also the reason why he received such a stiff penalty, was because he picked on an ideal victim: a white, middle-class woman who had no reason to fear the police and meekly complied with the arrest, even offering her other hand when he handcuffed her. Even if people familiar with police abuses who crowd around and record arrests or stops and searches they perceive as harassment had happened by, they would probably have thought nothing was amiss here. There is a danger of people becoming more concerned about police abducting and murdering white women, which has happened (as far as I’m aware) precisely once in recent years than about racially-targeted, sometimes violent, police harassment which targets children as well as adults and happens a lot. When Black families give their children “the talk”, the idea is to make it clear that they should not challgenge the officer even if he is aggressive or obviously prejudiced, as this will be used as an excuse to become more aggressive and violent and could result in them being arrested or killed; it was precisely this trust of and submission to authority that Couzens exploited.

A large collection of flowers under a bandstand on Clapham Common. A banner among them reads, in pink on a black background, "On the way home I want to feel free, not brave".Flowers left for Sarah Everard at Clapham Common in March 2021

It is disappointing, but not altogether surprising, that Keir Starmer has thrown his weight behind Cressida Dick. He is preoccupied with the need to appeal to the “Red Wall”, the group of former ‘safe’ Labour seats in the provincial North that switched to the Tories at the last election, where voters are presumed to be pro-establishment, patriotic, ‘true’ (read white) working-class people who trust the police. This presumption is misplaced: working-class people experienced police violence on many occasions during the 1980s, notably during the miners’ and steelworkers’ strikes, as well as the calumnies of the police (echoed by the tabloid press and by politicians) against the Liverpool fans who were killed or injured at Hillsborough. There is a sense that distrust of the police is confined to troublemakers and wrongdoers as well as minorities and some “metropolitan liberals” and that ‘normal’ (white, provincial) people regard the police as friendly to them and believe politicians’ and police chiefs’ claims that the corrupt or depraved police are a small minority of “bad apples”.

It is important that we keep the focus on the police culture that has allowed countless predators, domestic abusers and other criminals to maintain careers in the police force, allowing them power over ordinary people. Of course, such people exist in wider society, but this must not be a distraction: the police are there to maintain the law, order and decency. They must not be “no better than the rest of us” and certainly must not be allowed to cover up for those who abuse their position or less experienced officers or their families or ordinary people. We have seen too many situations where the police abused or injured people with impunity; the killing of Ian Tomlinson, who was hit over the head unprovoked by an officer with anger management issues that were known to his colleagues, in 2009 was a classic example (he was acquitted of even manslaughter, but dismissed from the force for gross misconduct and the force acknowledged that his actions had caused Tomlinson’s death). Couzens did not get away with it largely because there was no way of portraying his victim as being in any way blameworthy, nor his actions as an operational mistake, and would have done if either of these arguments could have been made. We must not allow the same excuses to be made for those who aided and abetted him along the way. There must be action now, and change now.

Image sources: Tim Dennell, via Wikimedia, licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution License v2.0 (CC BY 2.0), and Rosianna Rojas, via Twitter.

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