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Reem Faruqi on Feeling Misunderstood

Counter Islamophobia Through Stories Reem Faruqi

Reem Faruqi is the author of Lailah's Lunchbox, where she drew inspiration from her own childhood experiences of being Muslim in America to write this heart warming story. 

Can you share a little bit about where you grew up, and what inspired you to become a writer?

I grew up in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates and then Peachtree City, Georgia. My mother is an avid reader and would take us to the library often. I remember loving the scent of books and being mesmerized by so many of them.​ I also used to write in a diary often and often dreamed of becoming an author. It is the most rewarding feeling to see my book in the library!

What inspired you to write about Islam?

​I wrote about Ramadan in a school setting for Lailah's Lunchbox because I remember the feeling of being misunderstood as a child fasting in Ramadan at school in America. I wanted other children to feel comfortable and confident with their faith and sharing who they are.​

​In this day and age, the media does not often paint Muslims well, so I wanted to show Muslims as regular people!

What is the one misconception about Muslims that you could wave your magic wand and banish forever?

​That Muslim women do not have voices. They do!​

Check out Reem's books on our 'Celebrating Islam' book list 

What is your favorite story fr​o​m Islamic traditions?

​There is a story about Owais Qarni, may peace be upon him, who cared for his sick mother and took the utmost care for her. He never met Prophet Muhammad yet Prophet Muhammad spoke highly about him. I was touched by the way Owais lived.

What is your biggest inspiration from Islam?

​The stories of the prophets are always inspiring for me. I especially love the story of Prophet Ayub, may peace be upon him. I admire how he had steadfast faith even when everything around him was falling apart. I also love the tale of Zakariya and how he called upon his Lord to grant him child and was answered.

And finally - Biryani or Kababs?

​Aloo Kababs! I had them almost every day while in college. Now I will make them in batches for my family and will freeze them so I strive to always have them on hand. Biryani looks too intimidating to make!​

Thank you Reem Faruqi! This interview was done as part of KitaabWorld's Counter Islamophobia Through Stories campaign.


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