As I scoured the shelves on a recent trip to a bookshop in order to accidentally on purpose bump into my book (as you do when you’re a new author) I realised that if we look at the self-help industry there are currently no Muslim authors representing us on the self-help shelf.
Self improvement is a huge part of our faith. In Islam, this concept is known as ‘tazkiyah’ and as an avid reader who is a die-hard fan of self-development literature, I often find myself wondering “where is the Muslim version of a Brene Brown or Mel Robbins? Or where is the Muslim Jay Shetty or Tony Robins?”.
When I searched for bestsellers on a Muslim’s guide to dreaming big, guess what? I found none. Why was this the case? Are Muslim non-fiction writers simply just not good enough to meet the standards of a New York Times or a Sunday times bestseller list?
Some of the most successful non fictional books in the world have borrowed ideas from Judaism, Christianity Hinduism and Buddhism and I always wondered why the Islamic voice was missing, the Quran, after all is the best self improvement book I know.
There are over a billion Muslims dotted around the world; surely, I couldn’t be the only whacko with a burning desire to read a little something based on Islam, with a hint of neuroscience, and positive psychology at bedtime?
If you’re a Millennial Muslimah like me, you will know that growing up as a Muslim in a non-Muslim country is not an easy ride. We grew up in an era where we were constantly led to believe that the world didn’t have space for girls who looked like us. I mean, the closest we got to seeing a hijabi on TV was Whoopie Goldberg dressed as a nun in Sister Act!
We grew up amongst the backdrop of 9/11 and the chaos that took place in its aftermath. In many ways the events that unfolded over the last 20 years during the ‘whole war on terror’ coupled with global recessions, crippling student debts, the climate crisis, the pandemic, brexit and even ‘mexit’ has shaped us in ways we still can’t fully comprehend. It is safe to say that as a community, we suffer from PTSD, big time.
But where is the help in the literature for us Muslim Mamas?
Cool buzzwords such as practicing mindfulness, gratitude and meditating have been trending a lot in the self-help space lately but they are not new to me since they are at the heart and core of the principles of my faith. Words such as manifesting or the law of attraction are also familiar concepts but I am yet to see a book on manifestation from the Islamic perspective.
Representation matters. As a Muslim Mama, it is important for me that I read books that are tailored around my unique needs, that I can identify with books that places trust on the Maker of the universe, instead of simply the universe to manifest my most audacious dreams, and so I decided to write the book that I wanted to read.
Dream D’ua Do is a really simple self-help book where you get to laugh a little and learn a lot as I walk you through the process of achieving your wildest dreams.
My book is unique in the sense that it has all the cool bits that you would usually find in the western self help books but all the philosophies or research in neuroscience, behavioural science or positive psychology always ties back to the teachings of Islam.
I wrote this book for a very specific target audience, mainly for my shisha smoking, designer jeans wearing, Adele songs listening, “from the river to the sea Palestine will be free” chanting type of readers, because there is just not enough literature out there for women like us, not in the traditional Islamic world of literary and certainly not in popular culture, in the booming self help industry.
One of my biggest dreams for this book was to push it towards the mainstream. I didn’t want it to just make its rounds in a few Islamic bookshops or even if it sold in the bigger bookshops like Barnes and Nobles, Waterstones or Kinokunya, I didn’t want it hidden away in the religion and spirituality section either, I wanted it to sit unapologetically next to all the other self-help books that are out there at the moment. And so I did just that.
Sometimes all we have to do is ‘dream, du’a and do”.
Written by Ruzina Ahad author of Dream du,a and do available to purchase here.
All guest writer articles come from our Muslim Mamas community or from our network of supporters. Some contribute one-off stories; some contribute as anonymous mamas. All experiences and opinions are those of the writers.