5 must-read books that represent today’s Muslim experience


With recent cases of systematic Islamophobia highlighted, the New Arab’s Book Club offers our readership five books that illustrate the modern Muslim experience, from personal stories to theoretical insights.

With the Yorkshire “P * ki scandal” putting cases of systematic Islamophobia back in the spotlight, The New Arab has compiled a reading list that helps frame the modern British Muslim experience.

With the rapid rise of Islamophobia, far-right politics and anti-migrant rhetoric, it has never been more important to listen and engage with Muslim communities in the Western world. It is only when our voices are heard and amplified that we can truly begin to unbox and attempt to resolve the many issues facing our communities.

And there is no better way to understand and engage with Muslim communities than to read our experiences and stories within those same communities. These five readings are all from Muslim writers offering their own unique perspectives on a range of topics, while also bringing the voices of their own communities to the table.

Cut from the same fabric? Muslim women on life in Britain

A collection of essays written by Muslim women and edited by Sabeena Akhtar, Cut from the same fabric provides much needed space for Muslim women of all walks of life to explore topics around identity, race, modesty and motherhood – to name a few.

When Muslim women got so used to being viewed negatively and stereotypically in the Western world, Cut from the same fabric empowers women to challenge these stereotypes and have their stories heard the way they want to be heard.

A radical and insightful read that will make you want to know more about these writers. You can purchase a copy here.

I refuse to condemn – Resisting racism in times of national security

I refuse to condemn analyzes and unpacks the complex relationship between racism and security, examining how this relationship and the pressure to condemn acts of violence affect Muslim communities.

Dr Asim Qureshi brings together a range of writers, activists and academics to explore where and how this expectation to condemn violence and terrorism emerged, and the ways many Muslims choose to challenge that expectation.

This book in itself is an act of resistance and will leave readers angry, inspired, and most importantly, empowered to ask the toughest questions about condemnation, accountability, and systemic racism. Take a copy here.

Women and Gender in Islam – Historical Roots of a Modern Debate

In the realm of women and Islam, this book is a classic introductory read – one that has stood the test of time – for those seeking to deepen Islam’s relationship with gender. In Women and gender in Islam, Leila Ahmed takes us through the social and political life of women in the pre-Islamic Middle East, the rise of Islam, to Egypt in modern times.

Years of research have meant that Ahmed has developed a detailed and rich history of the relationship between gender and Islam and how the lives of Muslim women have changed over time.

Women and gender in Islam is a book that so many of us will return to over and over again, and which has solidified itself as both a staple and a point of reference. Buy a copy here.

Muslim Identity Politics: Islam, Activism and Equality in Britain

Muslim identity policy is one of the first books to identify and analyze British Muslim activism and how national and global factors have influenced the way British Muslims mobilize their political power. And with the ever-growing Islamophobia in the UK (and beyond), Muslim activists face even greater challenges in their ability to organize and put pressure on the state and those in power. .

Khadijah Elshayyal looks back at post-1960 identity politics for Muslim communities and shows how this has changed over the years, noting key turning points such as the Rushdie affair, the 9/11 attacks, the 7/7 attacks and the conflict current in Syria.

This book is engaging and vital read for anyone looking to gain a better understanding of the history of Islamophobia, racism and Muslim identities in the UK.

postcolonial jokes

Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan is one of the most talented and radical writers of this generation and there is no better place to start engaging in her writing than with her brilliant debut collection of poetry, postcolonial jokes.

It features some of her best-known and performed poems, as well as new plays, and gives the reader a glimpse into the life of Muslim women in the Western world for many of us.

She offers unique but relevant perspectives on topics such as Islamophobia, the War on Terror, Prevent and what it means to be British. Manzoor-Khan’s words aim to disrupt the status quo and existing power structures, and that’s exactly what she does through the power of poetry.

Shahed Ezaydi is a freelance writer and journalist specializing in opinions and articles on politics, race, culture and social issues.

Follow her on Twitter: @shahedezaydi



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