Dizem que sou calmo e sereno, mas pouco sabem do que acontece no meu interior. Todos temos um vulcão dentro de nós que pode entrar em erupção a qualquer momento. Esse é o meu maior problema: controlar meu vulcão tão bem a ponto de ninguém perceber que sou igualzinho a eles. Eu disfarço e finjo não ouvir os xingamentos, eu relevo toda a dor e toda frustração, faço uma maquiagem tão bem feita que ninguém nota minhas rupturas. Ninguém nota que eu também preciso de atenção. Ninguém nota que também sofro e que não estou mais aguentando, estou a ponto de jogar a toalha e ir pelos ares.
—  Alifer Souza.
14 Novels About Muslim Life That Shouldn't Be Missed
Whether secular or religious, these authors open up worlds for their audiences.
By Ahmed Ali Akbar
  • Minaret by Leila Aboulela — Sudan and Britain
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini — Afghanistan and California
  • The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf by Mohja Kahf — Illinois and Syria
  • Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid — Pakistan
  • White Teeth by Zadie Smith — London
  • A Map of Home by Randa Jarrar — Kuwait, Egypt, and Texas
  • Ambiguous Adventure by Cheikh Hamidou Kane — Senegal and France
  • Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson — The Middle East
  • Secret Son by Laila Lalami — Morocco
  • My Name is Red by Orhan Pamuk — Turkey
  • The Good Muslim by Tahmima Anam — Bangladesh
  • The Taqwacores by Michael Muhammad Knight — Buffalo, New York
  • Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa al-Sanea — Saudi Arabia
  • Habibi by Craig Thompson — Wantolia (fictional)
When you read Harry Potter books, do you get cured? Read it a hundred times, is there any cure? You get disturbed even more!
There is no comparison from all dunya books to Holy Quran; that one is dunya words and this one is Allah’s words!
On every letter of the Holy Quran there are Allah’s rewards – “Alif. Laam. Meem.” or “Kaaf. Haa. ‘Ayn. Saad.” Not one book from around the world gives you reward when you read it except the Holy Quran.
—  Shaykh Hisham Kabbani

Title: Alif The Unseen

Author: G. Willow Wilson

What’s it about:

Follows the story of a character we initially know only as Alif, a computer hacker (dare I say hacktivist) who provides online security for his clients in an unnamed Middle Eastern state.  At the same time his lover, Intisar, leaves him after becoming engaged to another man, and his system is hacked by a security agent that they call the “Hand of God.” Alif acquires a book called the Alf Yeom or The Thousand and One Days, a book belonging to the jinn but copied down by humans. This book might hold the key to unseating The Hand as well as the corrupt government censors but the book contains a treacherous final story. Alif is suddenly on the run, unintentionally dragging his friend Dina along with him into a world of danger coming from the natural world and the supernatural.

 What I loved:

For non-Muslims who struggle to comprehend the religion outside of the abstract, Alif the Unseen is an excellent way to gain some insight. It is a work of fiction framed around the reality of the faith which offers a lot of perspective. I cannot say enough about how important this is. Wilson has done an incredible job at making her book accessible and understandable to non-Muslims and she should be commended for it.

Alif the Unseen also did an excellent job at delving into the social classes and barriers within the society. Alif is the child of an Arab man and his Indian second wife; his neighbor Dina is the daughter of two Egyptians; and his love Intisar is an upper class Arab girl (which according to the book is distinct from being Egyptian Arab). Watching how these classes play out is very interesting but the author also displays the difference between the very devout characters—like Dina and Sheikh Bilal—and the (significantly) less so like Alif. It also shows Alif’s journey towards faith in a beautiful way.

One great mystery throughout the entire book is Alif’s real name. Alif is his online ‘handle’ and it is also the first letter Arabic alphabet. We are frequently told that Dina uses his ‘given name’ but it is only at the end that we find out what it is. 

There is a moment in the book that I won’t give away but it is an astoundingly beautiful moment of realization for Alif in a scene between himself and Dina. I could talk about it for ages but I won’t because if anyone should read this I want them to experience it.

Also I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my favorite character, Vikram. Again though, don’t want to say too much about him at this stage. Suffice it say – Looks like he could kill you but is actually a cinnamon roll.

What I maybe didn’t love:

Wilson wrote what seemed like a lot of major characters into this book and she did a good job of making the vast majority of them three dimensional. However it did fall short for me with a couple characters, most notably when it came to a character called NewQuarter who I think I liked better before we properly met him.

I mentioned earlier the mystery of Alif’s name and how much I loved it. However there was just one clue to his name which I felt was a dead giveaway, however it would depend on you if you’ll get it at that point.

My final thoughts:

Alif the Unseen should be on every High School Lit curriculum everywhere, particularly in the west. It humanizes the people of the Middle East and particularly the Muslim community in a way that we desperately need. It is spectacular for interfaith understanding and for general Western understanding of the Middle East.

You should read this if you liked: The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Artemis Fowl

thanks to westendmelody for letting me borrow this!!

Peribahasa “tak kenal maka tak sayang” sudah tak berlaku lagi untukku. Bagaimana jika “tak kenal maka ta'aruf” sebab Cinta ini serupa alif, tegak lurus menujumu.

ALIFE Fall 2015 Collection
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Parh parh ilm te faazil hoya
Te kaday apnay aap nu parhya ee na

You read to become all knowledgeable
But you failed to read your heart

Bhaj bhaj warna ay mandir maseeti
Te kaday mann apnay wich warya ee na

You run to enter temples and mosques
But you never entered your own heart

Larna ay roz shaitaan de naal
Te kadi nafs apnay naal larya ee na

Each day you fight satan
But you never fight your own ego

Bulleh Shah asmaani ud-deya pharonda ay
Te jera ghar betha unoon pharya ee na

Bulleh Shah, you try to grab that which is in the sky
But you never get hold of what sits inside you

Bas kareen o yaar

Stop it all, my friend

Ilm-oun bas kareen o yaar
Ik Alif teray darkaar

Stop seeking all this knowledge, my friend
For “God is the One” you need to know.

-Bulleh Shah