The modern Muslim experience: A quintessential reading list

5 must-read books that represent the modern-day Muslim experience
4 min read
01 December, 2021
With recent instances of systematic Islamophobia being brought to the fore, The New Arab's Book Club is providing our readership with five books that exemplify the modern-day Muslim experience, from personal stories to theoretical deep-dives.
With the Yorkshire 'P*ki scandal' bringing instances of systematic Islamophobia back into the spotlight, The New Arab have 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’s never been more important to listen and engage with Muslim communities in the Western world. It’s only when our voices are heard and amplified that we can really begin to unpack and attempt to resolve the many issues facing our communities.

And there is no better way to understand and engage with Muslim communities than reading about our experiences and stories from within those very communities. These five reads are all from Muslim writers offering their own unique perspectives on a range of topics, whilst also platforming the voices of their own communities.

Cut from the Same Cloth? Muslim Women on Life in Britain

A collection of essays written by Muslim women and edited by Sabeena Akhtar, Cut from the Same Cloth provides the much-needed space for Muslim women from all kinds of backgrounds to explore topics around identity, race, modesty, and motherhood – to name just a few.

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When Muslim women have grown so accustomed to being perceived in a negative and stereotypical way in the Western world, Cut from the Same Cloth gives women the opportunity to challenge these stereotypes and have their stories heard in the way they want to be heard.

A radical and insightful read that will leave you wanting to read more from these writers. You can buy a copy here.

I Refuse to Condemn - Resisting Racism in Times of National Security

I Refuse to Condemn analyses and unpacks the complex relationship between racism and security, looking at how this relationship and pressure to condemn acts of violence affect Muslim communities.

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Dr Asim Qureshi brings together a range of writers, activists, and scholars to explore where and how this expectation to condemn violence and terrorism emerged, and the ways in which many Muslims are choosing to challenge this expectation.

This book in itself is an act of resistance and will leave readers feeling angry, inspired, and more importantly, empowered to ask the more difficult questions around condemnation, accountability, and systemic racism. Grab a copy here.

I refuse to condemn

 

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

In the field of women and Islam, this book is a classic introductory read – that has stood the test of time – for those looking to begin delving into Islam’s relationship with gender. In Women and Gender in Islam, Leila Ahmed takes us through the social and political lives of women in the pre-Islamic Middle East, the rise of Islam, to Egypt during the modern era.

Years of research has 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 keep coming back to and has solidified itself as both a staple and a reference point. Buy a copy here.

Muslim Identity Politics: Islam, Activism and Equality in Britain

Muslim Identity Politics is one of the first books to chart and analyse British Muslim activism and how both national and global factors have influenced how British Muslims mobilise their political power. And with the ever-increasing Islamophobia in the UK (and beyond), Muslim activists face even bigger challenges in their ability to organise and lobby the state and those in power.

Muslim Identity Politics: Islam, Activism and Equality in Britain

 

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

This book is an engaging and vital read for anyone looking to understand more about the history of Islamophobia, racism, and Muslim identities in the UK. 

Postcolonial Banter

Suhaiymah Manzoor-Khan is one of the most talented and radical writers of this generation and there’s no better place to begin engaging with her writing than with her brilliant debut poetry collection, Postcolonial Banter.

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It features some of her most well-known and widely performed poems, as well as some new pieces, and gives the reader an insight into what life for Muslim women in the Western world is like for so many of us.

She offers unique but relatable 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 she does exactly that through the power of poetry.

Shahed Ezaydi is a freelance writer and journalist, specialising in opinion and features writing on politics, race, culture, and social issues.

Follow her on Twitter: @shahedezaydi