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Interview with Umm Juwayriyah, creator of the first Muslim Fiction App

Umm Juwayriyah, MA is the:
– 2018 Highlights Foundation Fellow
– #MuslimGirlsReader Founder and
– New England Muslim Sisters Association Editor-in-Chief
She is also the author of the As Sabr Publications Best Sellers: The Size of a Mustard Seed, Hind’s Hands, The Princess and The Good Deed, Yaseen’s Big Dream and the creator of the first Muslim Fiction App: #MuslimGirlsRead App

Below is an interview of her.
·Tell us more about you?

I am American Muslimah, mother, wife, urban educator, creative, and the first author and creator of Urban Muslim Fiction.

·We understand that you’re very keen on Muslim fiction, who or what inspired you into the propagation of Muslim stories and what challenges have you faced in the propagation of Muslim fiction?

I was born and raised indigenous Black American Muslim in Massachusetts. I loved reading and poetry from a early age. My parents are both from Harlem, NY so I like to think I have the renaissance in my bloodstream. Growing up, I loved the Mildred D. Taylor series, the Judy Bloom series and of course, The Babysitter’s Club series. I read the works Zora Neale Hurston, of Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Nina Simone, Terry McMillan, Omar Tyree, and others. I loved their freedom of expression and ability to craft realistic urban fiction. It inspired me but in all of that literature and prose, there was never any authentic and clear representation of anyone like myself. Black-American, Muslim, and female. I was an avid reader who started writing her own stories in grade school so I could see myself. I published the world’s first English Urban Muslim fiction novel, The Size of a Mustard Seed, in 2009 with a small press, MWP Publishing, under the tutelage of the late, great author and publisher, Widad Delgado, may Allah have mercy on her. She took a chance on my narrative and believed that my stories needed to told.

·What prompted you to create the ‘Muslim Girl Reads’ Muslim fiction app?
The app is an extension of my plight to make English Muslim fiction accessible to the world and to create an authentic space for authentic Muslim fiction written by Muslim Authors in the literary canon! I am also trying to find ways to connect readers with good stories and bring the fun back to reading.

·Who is this app dedicated to and why?

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The app is for everyone intrigued by Muslim fiction and as well as those who are already hip to the genre and need to keep up with new works and interact with Muslim authors through social media.

 

·What challenges and breakthroughs did you face in the creation of this app?

I am not the greatest coder and many of the coders I met with had no idea what Muslim fiction was. It was a challenge to bring my ideas into color and at the same time make sure that the userabilty was uptimum and able to grow as my ideas develop over time. This app is just phase one. Enshallah, next year I plan to roll out phase two.

·Are there any name you’ll like to mention connected with the success of the first Muslim fiction app?
Who are they?

My 17 year old daughter, Juwayriyah Ayed. She compiled the list of 150 authors for the phase one app, she tested the usability of the app often, and help me think about ways to reach youth.
She is an author herself and an avid reader so this was joint effort between us.

·What plans do you have in future with the app and what impact do you hope your work makes?
Enshallah, I want to keep growing the app. Expanding the database of the book suggested books is part of phase 2. We also want to expand the usability on the app and make it more interactive for a fuller experience. The app was created to connect readers with Muslim fiction and that’s our main goal . I see it being used in Muslim schools around world. I am hopeful that we can partner with other businesses in the world to help expand Muslim fiction.

·What advice would you give to people that read this interview?
I am always asked, “Why Muslim fiction?” Good stories are important to readers everywhere. It transcends race and religion. However, representation matters to every group of people. Muslim youth and Muslim adults deserve to be represented in stories. Additionally, co-religionist don’t all share the same experience. A young Muslim boy growing up in Brooklyn, New York has a very different life than a young Muslim boy in Algeria or Yemen. But there is greatness and power and education in both of their narratives that can help expand people’s worldview, understanding of diversity, and appreciation for their lives.

Thank you very much Umm Juwayriyah for taking your time to answer our questions.

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