On Writing Creative Non-Fiction – Interview with Naima B Robert

Fatima Barkatulla


Channel: Fatima Barkatulla

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The speakers discuss their writing process, including the importance of learning about the writing process and the "immigrant teacher of English" who wrote a book about APeight. They also discuss their writing process, including their passion for Khadija Medela's story and their desire to bring their story to life in a sad way. They emphasize the importance of finding the right resources for writing a historical novel, researching and learning to write in a authentic way, and sharing stories with their audience. They also express their gratitude for the opportunity to tell a story and encourage their audience to write and tell stories in a way that speaks to a new generation.

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Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh and welcome to this session in the Muslim writers online Summit. This session is very special. It's special to me and especial in general because it is with none other than the author of one of the best books of Sierra to come out for children. Khadija is published by learning rooms, and the author is none other than speaker and student of knowledge. Fatima barkatullah Fatima Welcome to the summit. Assalamu alaykum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh. I like

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to, I'm really happy that you could participate. I'm so excited to have you taking part in this summit. Because I've known you for so many years as a speaker and as a writer of articles. And now there is a beautiful, beautiful book authored by yourself. And so I really want to kind of go there with you and find out about how that came about the transition from submitting, speaking and learning and writing articles to actually writing, you know, pretty much a mini novel, but historical nonfiction many novels.

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Tell us how that how that began.

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So Hamdulillah, I've got a copy of my, of my book here. So this is the book Khadija mother of history's greatest nation. And it's the first book that, you know, I that's been published, and I've written.

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I guess, like, as you know, I've always been interested in and I've always been writing, since, you know, I did GCSE English, and I got an A star, and then I did a level English. And so I was always really interested in language literature, you know, reading and,

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and I guess, when I was a student in Egypt, after I came back from Egypt, there were things that politically used to bother me or, you know, I used to see in the Muslim community that I that I would like to educate people about.

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And that's what really drove me at first to start writing, and seeking to get things that I've written out there in a bigger way. And so I think the first magazine or you know, publication in which anything I'd ever written was published was actually Joomla. Magazine. And I just remember that feeling, you know, like, it was an article about Arabic,

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Arabic language. And this is in the 90s, late 90s. And I was like, really passionate about the Arabic language and, and motivating people to start learning in the Muslim community, in particular, of course. And so I put this article out there, I got such a positive response from it. And this is like when the internet was starting out, really getting out there. And so people were sharing that article as well, because it was online as well. And I guess I got the I got the buzz, you know, from feeling that words that I had written, could have an impact. And I think that's where that's where it really started.

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And after that, I actually before the Abuja book, I'd written a children's book,

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and sent it to a publishing company, and a Muslim publisher. And I remember I put so much effort into making it like putting it in a nice display folder, very expensive.

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And, you know, like, really making it look good. And,

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but I got a rejection letter. And I remember that feeling, you know, oh, all the effort that I put, and the book had been rejected.

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And instead of feeling kind of, like, this is not for me,

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I realized that perhaps there was something I needed to learn, you know, perhaps he was, it was a case of I need to get better at this.

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And so I guess once our children came along, I was really immersed in the world of children's books and reading them and, you know, so I guess, I started picking up some of the things that authors were doing that I had not yet learned.

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And so when this opportunity to write the book came along, in some ways, I was kind of right in the right place at the right time, you know?

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Yeah, so that's, that's really like, like

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Just a little introduction to the background, masha Allah, I really I like the idea of a rejection, not to you off, but letting you know that there's something that you needed to learn. So in hindsight, what was it that you needed to learn? What was that first book about? We all want to know.

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It was a book about, you know, that famous story about the the girl who,

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whose mother was mixing milk with water. Yes. And selling it in the marketplace. At the time of Oh, my God, Alonso and my mom had told me that story when I was very young, and it really had had an impact on me in that the girl had been very truthful. And she had told her mom, you know, the Khalifa has said that we shouldn't mix milk with water and sell it in the marketplace. Because it's, you know, obviously, it's, it's fraudulent, it's a fraudulent way of making money. And her mother said, Oh, this Khalifa is not here. The Khalifa is not here to see you. And the girl she'd said, well, the Khalifa may not be here. But Allah is watching us, right. And so that's like a summary of

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the story. And eventually, she actually, but what happened, as you may know, is that the Khalifa or the Lama was actually standing outside their house, because he used to do like a walk about, you know, around Medina. And he'd actually overheard this conversation. And so the next day, he sent one of his sons to inquire about this girl. And he actually encouraged his son to marry her. So she ended up being the wife of, you know, what could be like the royal family within the royal family of the time, we obviously, it wasn't like a king, but the Khalifa was son, she married the Khalifa son. And this, I just remember having such a huge impact on me as a child, I wanted to bring that story

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to Muslim children. I think, I think what was wrong with the way I had written it is something that a lot of authors sometimes fall into. And that is one of the authors anyway, is thinking that writing a children's book is really easy.

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Is a kid's book.

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I want him to be right. So I told the story, like a straight story, like straight up, you know, this is what it says, buddy, that's what it is. Oh, yeah. I told the story straight up with very little kind of,

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with more telling than showing, right? See, I know these terms now. But at the time, I didn't know about show not tell. And, you know, I didn't know about not being preachy in the way I'm writing. And I didn't know you shouldn't patronize children, you know, when you're when you're writing for them and stuff like that. I was just being me.

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And I think, obviously, it just, it just wasn't creative enough. It just wasn't a creative and compelling enough. Not that the story wasn't creative, or sorry, the story wasn't compelling. Of course, it was a compelling story. But I wasn't telling it in a compelling way for a modern day audience.

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That's one way I could look at it another way. Another thing I do think to myself is, you know, not every, it's not, it's not always that there's something wrong with your book, or the way you've written it could be that it's just not, it just doesn't suit that particular publisher. You know, you think that that was the case? I'm wondering, from their point of view, did they think that it wasn't creative enough or compelling enough? Or was it just didn't fit their list?

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I think it was probably both, you know, and so I think one of the policies I've always had is Alhamdulillah. I don't, I don't think there's anything that I can't learn, you know,

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inshallah. And I think so when I've been rejected in that way.

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Of course, that as a human being, you do feel a bit down, right? Because you've put all that effort in. But for me, it's about thinking, Okay, well, what was it? What exactly was it? That could have made my book better, you know? So anyway, I think what what it really did was after that, when I was reading books, especially to my children in their various different ages and stages, I started becoming a lot more

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about what the author was doing. Right, you know, right. Yeah, yeah.

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And so in a way my kids were my research

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You know, and my training because, you know, you read a book, you see the children's reaction to it. And you know, sometimes I would, I would look at a book a very simple book, like, I don't know if you know that book, Rosie's walk, right? Yes. Everyone knows, right? Yeah. You know, the sort of really classic books, or even books by Roald Dahl. And I would, instead of just reading it, in my mind, I would sort of be analyzing it, you know, how he starts, for example, with with Rosie is why is this story so interesting? Why is it that it draws you in? And you can read it again and again? Look at it again. And again. Obviously, it's a picture book.

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But still, you know, there are other books like, for example,

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that book about the beard, the Daddy bear, who wants to sleep?

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good night. It's

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something about a good night. Oh, is the bad family. It's by Joe Murphy. Is the bear family, right? By Joe Murphy and its

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students good nights, it's obviously a good night, but he can't sleep, isn't it and he goes here in

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different rooms.

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And sometimes you'd look at a book like anything, there's actually quite a lot of repetition in it, there's quite a lot of what is it that makes it so charming, you know, and so I started really analyzing that, looking at the way, especially somebody like Roald Dahl, who my children were really into

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how he started a book off, you know, what is it that he does right at the beginning, he sort of immediately starts making you interested in the characters, right? introduces the characters, and he doesn't mind being a little bit over the top with your descriptions and, and that kind of draws you in and makes the character interesting. And, and the hero of the story is always somebody you can really identify with.

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And you start feeling an affinity with straightaway, right? So these sorts of little things I started noticing. And so without sort of going on a course or anything like that, I think it was more about becoming aware of what the the the experts are doing, what the you know, really excellent, was in the process of reading and kind of like learning from them, aren't you? Yeah, but I must say it was not until I had to really do it myself

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that I really

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developed my ability to write. And that might sound quite strange, because probably a lot of authors are have books that they've, you know, want to be authors have written a book, and they've got a manuscript and they're looking for a publisher. For me, it didn't work like that.

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I was a student of knowledge and the publishing company learning routes, they

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they were looking for an author, or potential writers, who,

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obviously, were native English writers who had skill when it came to writing and flair. But at the same time, also have the ability to research

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in Arabic, and research Islamic history and had Islamic knowledge. Right. Yeah, that was quite interesting. But you know, yeah, all those things kind of came together. And they approached me, they actually approached me and asked me, you know, would you be interested in

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some books that we're looking at, and we need somebody with this kind of background? Has, you could send us a little. And when I showed interest, they asked me for a synopsis and just like a little bit of an extract of the style of writing that I would write

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a historical book that was aimed at children in

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and I remember, I just even though I was like, right in the middle of some exams or some busy period,

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I think when when you are a creative or artistic person, right? And even if you might be doing very academic work, or very kind of, right, right brain is that what it's called, you know, work.

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That left brain stuff, right, it's just there simmering, underneath just waiting to get up. And so when the publishing company asked me for an extract of a scene from the life of any Sahaba that I want any of the Sahaba that I wanted, I just kind of really relished it really enjoyed writing this one or two pages of, you know how I would show for example, a scene from the life of Omar or

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one of the Sahaba and

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And it was, it was like, for me, it was like a movie, it was like, going back in time to my own childhood and what appealed to me and

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bringing these amazing personalities and characters to life, you know, in a way that I had sort of wished that I had had when I was younger, but I haven't hadn't really found, you know.

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So, I think they really liked the extract that I wrote, they saw potential in it, let's put it that way.

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And at the end of the day, they took a risk with me, because, as a new author, or a new writer, it was new for me this area of writing, but I think they saw my enthusiasm. They saw the potential in that extract that I'd written.

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and I think I just was so passionate about the project, you know, so when, for example, they talk, talk to me about Khadija Medela, Anna, and writing a book for, for older children, that would really bring her story to life, I think I just immediately expressed to them, my genuine

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interest and passion for the subject. And the reason why I felt so passionate for the project was that I remembered myself as a young girl, my dad, you know, I grew up in a religious family and my dad, he, he used to buy any books, he could for us, you know, any Islamic, and

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especially English books that he could find, because obviously, we were growing up in, in Britain, and you wanted us to really connect. And I remember this spoke about the life of Fatima that he brought me as a child. And I was so excited, because my name is Fatima, you know, and as a child, you just feel so connected to people of the past with your name. And I remember reading that book.

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And I don't think the author intended this, but I felt quite depressed. At the end of the story, you know,

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yeah, I did, I remember that I distinctly remember feeling quite, like quite down, like, like, her life was very sad to me, you know,

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and, or the way it had been presented was very sad, right.

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And, also, I remember thinking afterwards, you know, I've got to be really austere, I've got to be really, you know, I wanted to be like her.

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But then later on, as I started researching, and reading more, and as I gained more knowledge, I realized that actually, it's not really a story, it's the way the story has been told, you know.

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And I think one of the things I've always felt is that, especially for children,

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Muslim authors tend not to, or, or, until very recently, they've tended not to really think about the, the experience of the reader, you know, the emotions of the reader is very much about imparting facts, imparting information, right. And as human beings, we are not just vessels of, you know, information gathering, and especially for children,

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as a child when you're reading a book, and you know, this because, you know, I've read some of your books, Mashallah. And I can see that you're very conscious of this.

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As a child, you're actually building your whole identity, you're reading these books, and you're looking for things that actually help form who you are, you know, and who you end up being,

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or help form your ideas, your beliefs, your,

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your understanding of what your community is, right? And where your status is, and position is in this world that you found yourself in, right?

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I thought to myself, this is a really great opportunity

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for me, to bring that kind of awareness that I had of the fact that, you know,

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I really care about the way my reader feels, bringing that to the story of Khadija.

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And, you know, I don't know if you want to call it overconfidence, or

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like I said, I just felt like I was in the right place at the right time. And I was like, This is mine. This is

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I'm owning this.

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I'm gonna do this and I'm owning this

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And Alhamdulillah, I felt like I'm the right person to do this, as well, you know. And that's without wanting to brag or anything, you know, is it literally because like I said, it's more about the awareness, rather than the fact that I had the skill.

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So once I'd kind of got to that stage, I was like, I'm doing this, you know, and I'm doing this well. And so I'm going to have to,

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I had to put my focus my

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I think like, a lot of kind of energy and, again, focus into doing this. Right. You know, it was really important to me, and I'm really blessed that I humbly lobby, the publisher, and the brother, in particular, the editor

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who worked with me.

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And we worked completely mobile, you know, so a bit like this, I guess, or one line. And that's the amazing thing about the world now, you know, you can literally work online, you don't have to have met the person who you built the whole project with, right.

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So we worked in this kind of mobile way, but he had the patience and

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the willingness to see it through, you know, and I really felt that he believed in me, and I believed that I could do this. Even though I remember the first time, I'd written five chapters.

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And for me, I found having deadlines. Having an editor having somebody say, right, can we have the first five chapters by x date,

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I found that

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essential, and I found that very useful, especially as a first time writer, because probably the hardest thing

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was actually sitting down,

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you know, and saying, I'm going to finish this, this part, you know, and just getting on with it and doing it, you know, and literally scheduling time in and protecting that time. And saying, No, this is going to be my time for writing, I'm not going to do anything else. I'm going to take breaks every hour, right?

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I don't want any distractions, I'm going to ask my family to look after my kids or whatever it is, that needs to be done, right. But this day, once a week, was my day

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for researching and writing. And I took myself off to the library.

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For me, the library was the best place at home, I will I could see was laundry

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and the dishes. And even even on a day when everything was tidy, and everything was nice. Yeah, there's always things that you see in these distractions, you know, distractions, distractions, distractions. And I felt being in the library, knowing that there was a closing time at the library. And they were kind of limited facilities, right? It kind of forced me to get on with it.

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And that's what I did, I took my prayer mat with me.

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To help them library, most of the time, I did it at the library. And I literally prayed there, I lived there, you know, for that one day a week.

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For as many hours as I could in one go.

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And when I submitted that first, those first five chapters, and then started working on the next five, that was just a way for me to get started. To be honest, you know, it wasn't really like, these are going to be the perfect five chapters.

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I just felt I just You just got to get started, you've got to go

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dropped out and out of the write otherwise, and I remember when I got the feedback when I got the feedback from the publisher, and he recorded his feedback, you know, like on some, I think, some online software and he he recorded the,

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the the text and him kind of talking about each.

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And the criticism were quite, you know,

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intense. Let's put it that way. Yeah. Right. So you did it in a nice way. But he was basically telling me I had to do it all again, you know, literally,

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as far as I was concerned, from what viewpoint language or structure or what was

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I think the thing that he loved was

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I don't know, I think because I've grown up growing up. I was very into film, right.

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So I have a very kind of cinema.

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As a way of looking at stories, right? So when I'm writing a book, I'm thinking of the opening scene, right? You know, I'm, I'm thinking of it as a movie, I just, I just can't help it. That's just the way I look at the story, right? The what is the first scene and who, you know, walks onto the stage. And so I think he really loved the way I was able to do that, you know,

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for him, the main criticisms were things like

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being telling, not not showing, right, so he was really telling me Look,

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you need to develop this ability to, to say all of that, without spilling it all out like that, you need to be able to allow the person who's reading to be in the scene, you know, to be there to feel it, to smell it to, rather than being told that this was over there. And that was over there. You know what I mean? Like, so obviously, I subconsciously, I knew that. But sometimes having that external person, you know, that that third person, just come in there and say, Look, that's what you're doing that isn't working, you know, and if you could change that, that would really help. Yeah, that will change the whole thing. And things like not being patronizing to, to younger people,

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things like,

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I remember, one of the things that he said to me was, when I was describing the Prophet sallallahu, when he was selling the wedding is marriage to her the job.

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He felt that

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that section, or that whole kind of chapter was a bit too rushed, you know, he wanted the love to really come out, you wanted the reader to really, and I think sometimes as a writer, when you're so immersed in the project, you know, you can't see the wood, the wood for the trees, you know, it's so kind of, you're so immersed in looking at the finer details, that sometimes you need somebody to be like, sitting back and reading it, to kind of tell you what is the experience like of reading it, rather than, as a reader rather than the mechanics of it, you know, so I really, really benefited from his feedback, and I never got offended by it, you know, because I know that a lot of writers

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they do have this problem that either getting offended by anyone's desire to change or critique your work.

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losing confidence, right? For me, I was so in, in this project.

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I was like, I'm gonna do this, we're gonna do this, whatever it takes. So let me take that on board. And now Now, this is when I really started studying the works of other authors. You know, when you started talking to me about showing not telling and this type of stuff, I really was like, Well, how do you do that? You know,

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to to to grasp, I think,

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I think it's quite a difficult concept for a lot of authors to grasp, you know, show not tell. Yeah, and it's, it helps when you look at examples. By side, this is showing this is telling this is showing, what's this is showing or telling what's that, you know, but you have to get used to it, because I don't think people naturally know how to show mocktail. I think it's quite a skill to master. Yeah. And I think it wasn't just the concept of it. That was obviously like, we understand the concept, you know, to the nitty gritty of it, like, I mean, wow, I need to actually have the words now. To be able to bring this to life. I need to be able to articulate the words. So what I

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just went to people like Charles Dickens, you know, that. I remember reading Oliver Twist, and there's this beautiful scene or it's not so beautiful. But it's beautifully written scene of a marketplace in London, right. The way he describes it, I think it was it's like spittle field or something, you know, some common marketplace in London. From that time, and it was so amazing. The way he wrote about it, you just were there. You were there. You could smell it stank. And,

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you know, you could hear you could hear the whirring of the carts and you could see the donkeys and you could see it and you could smell it. And you could you could hear it, you know. And you know I did as an exercise. I just literally took that scene from Oliver Twist. I said I'm going to describe

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A mock and marketplace. And I'm using Charles Dickens.

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Yeah. So, I literally I know this sounds like what you know, like, I know people think, you know, you're gonna say, Oh, I had this magical talent and I just, you know, kind of summed up my creative skills and it all came together. No, it wasn't like that literally looking at the best, you know, and saying I can do that I need to bring the medina Maka market to life the way he brought a London market to life with Makkah, you know, with the makin

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things, you know, the scenery, etc. And so that's what I did. I looked at him the way he had written it. And I just thought, right, he's talking about the animals, but I'm going to write them I'm going to talk about the animals. He's describing the smells, I'm going to describe the smells, you know.

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And I literally started having to resort to obviously, the sources and books and, and the handler, we've got the internet, you know, to literally look up

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words that describe X words that describe why, you know, it's amazing. It's an amazing resource resource. And I remember at one point I had to describe a bar lib. Yeah, provided the prophets of Allah way sounds uncle in a very worried state, right? He's very worried he had all these debts and burdens and, and this is going to lead on to the deja adopting ally, or Dylan right.

00:31:39--> 00:31:45

Now, I thought how am I going to bring the worry that I will die really bad to life? You know.

00:31:47--> 00:31:48

And I researched online.

00:31:50--> 00:31:59

And I remember thinking, okay, descriptions, dark descriptions, sadness, you know, I just typed these words for inspiration,

00:32:01--> 00:32:04

descriptions of the darkness descriptions of night.

00:32:06--> 00:32:12

And I found beautiful descriptions, some of some of which had nothing to do with what I was writing now.

00:32:13--> 00:32:25

But some of which was really evocative, you know, really evoked the exact sort of depressive and negative feeling that I wanted to bring out.

00:32:26--> 00:32:32

And I remember learning from the writing of so many other people, you know, online, and

00:32:34--> 00:33:08

and I felt very thankful that we had this resource, you know, the internet, were literally tapped the talent from all over the world was at your fingertips, you know, you could you could look up somebody else's description of something, and learn from it, you know? So I think that one, definitely, the it's a really interesting hack. It's a really interesting exercise for creative writers. Mashallah. So, I hope that the viewers will take note of that, I just want to pick up on a couple of things that you mentioned,

00:33:09--> 00:33:11

is the use of the thesaurus.

00:33:12--> 00:33:32

Going back to the classics, to kind of learn storytelling skills, I guess, building structures, and then also your use of the Internet to actually search up different ways of describing things that you wanted to describe and getting inspiration from that as well. It's really, really interesting and really cool, huh?

00:33:33--> 00:34:18

So okay, we're writing a story about the life of IDW. Okay, working with learning routes with which is an Islamic publisher. So what did the research entail? Because obviously, they wanted somebody who could tell a story, but also could do research, maybe more research than most of us could do, because we will probably have to rely on English language resources. And they wanted you to be able to have a wide variety of resources. Yeah. Well, you know, writing a historical novel is one thing. historical novel, that's one thing, writing a novel style biography of a religious figure, is something entirely different. A, how did you tackle that from a practical point of view? And be Did

00:34:18--> 00:34:19

you feel that pressure?

00:34:21--> 00:34:34

Definitely, I mean, just starting off, I was like, right, I need to get in the right mindset for approaching this because Khadija is Mother of the Believers, right? She's the Prophets wife,

00:34:35--> 00:34:51

Ali Salaam. And, you know, what are the Lionheart? And it's a very sensitive topic, right? At the same time, I understood that, because I've studied, you know, for some time, I knew that there were going to be very few resources on Khadija

00:34:52--> 00:34:53

Villa Anna because

00:34:55--> 00:34:59

the fact is that most of the Hadith of the Prophet salallahu Alaihe Salam

00:35:00--> 00:35:04

The hadith collections they most of the headlines were narrated

00:35:06--> 00:35:48

after the after, you know, Khadija grandpa passed away, right? In Medina, because my muscles were persecuted, it wasn't really the time when they were kind of narrating had the Utes and writing things down, you know, it wasn't that kind of place. It's only when they moved to Medina, that now they had established themselves, there was peace, relative peace, there was relative security, that they could now start thinking of higher things, right things like writing things down preserving, writing, and, and in fact, it was only after the prophets of Allah when he was selling his death that this really became like, you know, a science that people literally traveled and sought and

00:35:48--> 00:35:57

knowledge of etcetera, right, so. So we're talking about a time that we don't have that many generations about, right?

00:35:58--> 00:36:01

So I already knew that there was going to be very little

00:36:03--> 00:36:05

personal information about her Deja.

00:36:06--> 00:36:25

So that meant, so now I asked myself, so does that mean, we shouldn't tell that story? Now, you know, that's not the case. So I came to that conclusion very early on, you know, we're going to tell her story. But we've got to tell it a being truthful to the narrations that have been,

00:36:26--> 00:36:27

you know, told about her.

00:36:29--> 00:37:04

But there are gonna be a lot of as a writer, especially somebody who's trying to write a book that's appealing to young people, or to modern audiences, you, you can't just have like a scantily written book, you know, that doesn't have a lot of kind of meat to it. Right? So one of the things I did was, early on, I consulted with scholars, and I talked to them about what the boundaries were, you know, where was there a lot of flexibility. Where was there no flexibility.

00:37:05--> 00:37:14

And, you know, the types of scholar and I consulted different scholars, so that I could get a wide range of kind of people from different backgrounds, you know,

00:37:15--> 00:37:27

to give me their input, because at the end of the day, you know, I want to write something that is beneficial, but that Allah is pleased with, you know,

00:37:28--> 00:37:28


00:37:30--> 00:37:47

those, those things were concerned for me. So one of the things that the scholars that I consulted, said to me was that, you know, when it comes to the Sierra, and when it comes to narrating stories of, you know, biographical stories of the past,

00:37:48--> 00:37:53

there's actually quite a lot of flexibility in that, in the sense of that.

00:37:54--> 00:38:11

Like, if I was teaching a class of fic, right Islamic law, and I was teaching you the rights and wrongs of Salah. Now, when I'm writing something of the Prophet salallahu, Alaihe, salam, I need to check, I need to make sure you know, what I'm narrating needs to be very carefully looked at.

00:38:12--> 00:38:16

Why because we're extracting law from it. Right.

00:38:17--> 00:38:24

But when it comes to telling the story of the prophets of Allah, when he was salam, the scholars of the past and present,

00:38:25--> 00:38:50

always had this attitude that, you know, even narrations that are not like, considered to be like the highest of the high right, in terms of ranking. They can also be used to inform the story of the Prophet salallahu Alaihe. Salam and to convey that story. I remember one of the shoe if he said to me, and these are you know, I'm talking about quite conservative shoe. Yeah, I'm not talking, you know,

00:38:52--> 00:38:53

you know what I mean, right. And

00:38:54--> 00:39:15

they're pretty conservative shoot, and yet they were saying to me, you know, what, Sister Fatima, they're saying, you know, there was a brother who tried to write a book called Sahai a Sierra. Right. The only the most authentic narrations right, like Behati level, right? The Sierra and he, and he said it was like a little pamphlet.

00:39:17--> 00:39:59

Right. It was a tiny little booklet. Wow. And the sheriff was saying that is a disservice to the life of the greatest man who ever lived, you know? Yes. Yeah. Because another misconception that people have is that if a hadith is not to the highest level of Sahai, then it means that it's not true. You know, that there's no truth in it. Yes. Yeah. So that's actually not the case. That's not the case. Obviously, I'm not gonna go into a hadith lesson here with you. But one of the things I learned in the process was that you know, when it comes to unless a hadith is like, completely

00:40:00--> 00:40:02

rated as a fabricated or, you know,

00:40:04--> 00:40:05

very, very

00:40:06--> 00:40:08

criticized by scholars.

00:40:11--> 00:40:19

I could actually use Hadees to inform the way I looked at this story, you know, and then the life of Khadija Anna.

00:40:21--> 00:40:37

Some of the scholars said to me that when it comes to certain characters, like for example, one of the things you might people will notice in my book is that I've been quite free in describing and talking about Abuja, for example, right? Would you have the body?

00:40:38--> 00:40:40

And that was because

00:40:42--> 00:41:06

first of all, everything that I've written about has got some basis to it. You know, it's not that, like, for example, there's a scene where a Buddha is very upset because her vija rejected him for his marriage proposal. And she accepted the marriage proposal of the Prophet salallahu Alaihe. Salam, or she proposed to him, right. So

00:41:07--> 00:41:25

the exact details of how have we generally expressed his upset? They're not preserved, right. Okay. But we know that he was upset about that. We know he was angry about that. We know he was upset about that. And when I asked the scholars, they said to me, when it comes to Abuja, when it comes to,

00:41:26--> 00:41:30

you know, certain figures, right, as long as you're true to the general story,

00:41:32--> 00:42:09

it really is not, like a rule or kind of some sort of strict thing, to sort of word for word, be quoting them and stuff like that, right? So they said to me, there's a lot of leeway there. Okay. So what I had to do was, I was being very careful with the words of Khadija Blanca I was being very careful with the words I was attributing to the Prophet salallahu Alaihe Salam, and those words you will find in a hadith, right, and even the scenes and the descriptions, there might be Hadees that people are not very familiar with, right.

00:42:11--> 00:42:21

But they are there, there are Hadith or then that have been narrated, and they have been told whenever scholars wrote about Khadija Atlanta,

00:42:22--> 00:42:26

but in order to compensate for the lack of kind of

00:42:29--> 00:42:31

ability to fully,

00:42:32--> 00:42:54

you know, just sort of freely describe, and talk and attribute things to for the job and the profits are lower. Obviously, we know that they didn't only utter the words that are in the Hadith, right? You know, the, the human beings, we don't have the details of their discussions when they first got married, and when they got to know each other, and you know, all of that, yeah,

00:42:55--> 00:43:00

in order to compensate. What I did was I, I was very careful.

00:43:01--> 00:43:22

I, I compensated, sometimes by really going to town when it came to the scenes with the bad guys. Right. And they're conniving, and they're planning and, you know, and and when I say go to town, what I mean is really bringing, you know, bringing comedy in there, sometimes sometimes

00:43:23--> 00:43:24


00:43:26--> 00:43:41

dialogue, dialogue that wasn't necessarily written that, you know, they exactly said those words, but that we know that they have this attitude, and we know that they had this feeling and how it may have been, you know, how it would have been, and may have been.

00:43:43--> 00:43:49

And so I think what that did was, it kind of balanced it out, you know,

00:43:50--> 00:44:01

in the sense that the book could contain comedy, it could contain, you know, the things that that children and that people like reading about and entertain people and,

00:44:03--> 00:44:09

you know, bring a story to life. But at the same time, I could be as careful as possible.

00:44:10--> 00:44:26

When it came to the person of the Prophet salallahu Alaihe. Salam and Khadija Yeah, yeah. So yeah, I'm not I'm not gonna say to you that it was easy. It was hard. It was hard. It was hard. There were times when I was like, you know,

00:44:27--> 00:44:29

I have to have full integrity to this.

00:44:31--> 00:44:56

And I, at the same time, I want to bring this to life. You know, it's kind of like a tension there. Isn't it really, sort of the bringing to life and the creativity, and then the necessary restrictions? Because it is what it is. It's a historical biography of a religious figure, as you said, and you don't want to kind of go beyond the bounds or say stuff that's not true. So it must have been quite a difficult.

00:44:57--> 00:44:59

Yeah, like almost like a

00:45:00--> 00:45:09

a balancing act really, between between. But I think what helped was the fact that even after it was written, that it was sent to scholars, you know,

00:45:11--> 00:45:14

peace of mind, doesn't it at the end of the day, because yeah, I don't like to

00:45:15--> 00:45:16

do that.

00:45:17--> 00:45:38

Yeah. And to be honest, I found that scholars, especially in the West, who looked at the manuscript, they were actually very happy with it. They were very happy, they were very positive about it. Because they understood the psychology of the two that would be reading this book, right?

00:45:39--> 00:45:52

They understood that children's book genre in a way, or the whole idea of children's books and kind of what children look for in books, and I'm sure they're over the moon to see an Islamic figure authentically represented

00:45:53--> 00:46:06

age group and for that genre, Mashallah. I'm sure they would have seen the value of that straightaway. Yeah, absolutely. So Hamdulillah, you know, I think I made a lot of dua, you know, as in during the writing process, there were times when

00:46:11--> 00:46:22

I was, I was, my mind was empty, the only way to describe it as to how I could articulate or bring out certain things, you know.

00:46:24--> 00:46:33

And I must say, I didn't feel free, I would actually like to write a book one day, where I do feel free, because I haven't had that experience. I was just

00:46:35--> 00:46:42

from fiction, the freedom to take a trip to wherever I want it to go, etc. It wasn't like that at all.

00:46:44--> 00:46:44


00:46:46--> 00:47:01

So there was that kind of feeling of lack of freedom in some senses. But at the same time, there was this excitement I had, because what I did was I over researched the topic, right? So I researched. And I think that's what you've got to do. When you're, you need

00:47:03--> 00:47:08

all the details, all the details, over research, like everything, that family

00:47:09--> 00:47:14

tree, you know, like, who is the extended family, I was, I was drawing out Noma,

00:47:15--> 00:47:46

like maps of the family of how deja was linked to different people, you know, because these things are not, they don't come to our mind, we, they don't come to us naturally. But at that time, people knew how they were connected, right? Yes. So like, you know, people will family sometimes, and we don't realize it, you know, because it's not explicitly stated. So why did was I mapped it out? And so I realized, oh, such and such was quite close to for the job, you know, couldn't have had a nephews, you had

00:47:47--> 00:47:58

all these different people. He had servants in her house? And what would that have been like? And so I actually, sometimes I would literally be sitting in the library, closing my eyes,

00:47:59--> 00:48:01

and putting yourself in that situation.

00:48:02--> 00:48:08

And was like, what was the house? Like? You know, like, we sometimes think of

00:48:09--> 00:48:22

people as a certain way, simply because it's been told to us that way, because we haven't ever tried to empathize and think, why realized for did you actually had quite a busy house, she had a lot of servants, you know, she had,

00:48:23--> 00:48:53

she wasn't like a businesswoman in the sense that we might think, you know, like, waking up in the morning, putting a suit on and going out, you know, she was I had to literally get rid of any, you know, preconceptions and conditioning and as much as possible, and try to like, put myself in that situation in that time. In some ways, I probably drew from my own knowledge of

00:48:54--> 00:49:00

society's law like, my, my own parents, country, India, you know,

00:49:02--> 00:49:02


00:49:04--> 00:49:18

the reason why I did that is because, you know, that feeling of extended family, yes. Being all around you, like being in a town or a village where basically everyone is kind of related and, and linked. How does that dynamic play out?

00:49:19--> 00:49:20


00:49:21--> 00:49:38

that would have been an easy transition to make, because, you know, in Indian culture that's known, you know, to have servants around and you know, how they will pass functions around them. Yes. Exactly. Yeah. So, yeah, so, I think, I think every author draws from their own

00:49:40--> 00:49:59

history as well, you know, their own their own knowledge of their cultures and other cultures, you know, their travels. So I think probably living in Egypt probably helped as well. You know, having lived in Egypt and knowing what a dusty desert town would be like, you know, all those kinds

00:50:00--> 00:50:09

I think that I guess it all came together. But I think the thing I was excited about was that I didn't feel this story had been told

00:50:10--> 00:50:16

to that younger audience with excitement with, with,

00:50:17--> 00:50:17

you know,

00:50:18--> 00:50:21

enthusiasm with passion, you know,

00:50:23--> 00:50:26

people knew the dry facts, but often they had not

00:50:28--> 00:50:37

ever considered the fact that Khadija, you know, for the just story with the prophets, Allah Salam was a love story as well, you know,

00:50:38--> 00:50:51

it was a marriage, it was the thing. I mean, I think I just began loving Khadija Lebanon has so much more, you know, during this process, because I was sitting there in the library in London, nice thinking,

00:50:52--> 00:51:02

wow, like, I am part of collegians legacy, you know, like me and you, sitting in London 1000s of miles away from where Felicia was.

00:51:04--> 00:51:24

And it just really brought home to me the fact that she had worked so hard all her life, for something that within her lifetime, she didn't see the full fruits of it. I mean, that was that was really powerful. Because I was like, Ah, if only for these, you could have seen, you know,

00:51:25--> 00:51:29

see, like, it was just a few years later that Subhanallah you know,

00:51:30--> 00:51:33

she passed away at a time when,

00:51:34--> 00:51:51

you know, they just been very badly persecuted, and boycotted. And it was a complete social boycott. And I just thought so imagine going from being that celebrity, you know, that woman of high regard, who everyone's proposing to and, you know, to then suddenly being

00:51:53--> 00:52:09

almost spilled from your house. Yeah. And being like, public enemy number one, right? So I think it really increased my love for the for Khadija villa for the Prophet salallahu Alaihe Salam. And I really wanted to

00:52:10--> 00:52:13

convey their story and their

00:52:14--> 00:52:19

hopefully, I think, the way they would want their story to be known, you know,

00:52:22--> 00:52:22


00:52:24--> 00:52:55

Yeah, I think that's a really, but that was my intention. Well, it's for intention, which I like really, really is. And I think, you know, Allah blessed you with an opportunity to tell such a beautiful story in such a beautiful way. And obviously, you know, all the all the viewers can see why it came out the way that it did Masha Allah because of that love and that passion that you brought to the project. So may Allah give you all the baraka for that. I mean, I mean, me. And, you know, for me, it just makes me

00:52:56--> 00:53:39

It reminds me of the privilege of the writer to tell stories, you know, this, this is, this is what we do, we tell stories, and if you're able to tell some of the most beautiful stories in a way that speaks to a new generation, or a different group, or, or a new language, even, it's such an amazing gift and such a precious gift and really something to be grateful for. So I just want to thank you for sharing that with us. Today, that sight into the making of, you know, what is really I'm sure to be a classic inshallah for for years and years and years to come, and may weigh heavily in the scale of your good deeds, and inspire our viewers to, to write and to tell stories, and to not be afraid

00:53:39--> 00:54:06

to do the work of researching, you know, deep research to be able to, on these stories, and in a beautiful way, and whether that research is fact based. So it's based on fact, whether it's historical facts, whatever it is, but also the research on lifting their skill as writers and lifting their storytelling skills as writers to be able to tell the story in the very, very best way. And I'm certainly inspired, Mashallah. And I'm sure all our viewers are as well.

00:54:07--> 00:54:15

You know, what, and I said this to you before, but I was really inspired by you, you know, as well, and seeing sisters like you

00:54:16--> 00:54:22

probably having their books published, and reading your books and, and just thinking, wow, you know, like,

00:54:24--> 00:54:51

having role models, you know, like that. I think it really helped. And I hope that when sisters who are who'd like to be writers and you'd like to have their work published when they see somebody like me, you know, is that their first book published? Or they see you? I hope that instead of feeling that we've got some talent that is on reachable, right, or that we have we were lucky or obviously I do know that it was kind of Allah has blessed us.

00:54:53--> 00:54:59

I hope that they would look at us and say, if they can do it, I can do it. You know, I can learn that. Yes.

00:55:01--> 00:55:20

So, that's why I kind of I'm being as honest as I can be about the fact that I really don't feel that I had. I was like the finished person, you know, in terms of as an author, I literally feel I learned how to be an author in the process.

00:55:22--> 00:55:25

Yeah, and I was really inspired by seeing other sisters.

00:55:26--> 00:55:34

Having made it in that way and having their work out there. And I remember reading a book of yours. And which one was it was

00:55:35--> 00:55:37

from Somalia, with love.

00:55:39--> 00:56:01

Yeah, and I remember reading it and thinking, wow, you know, like, as an author, apart from the fact you can tell that the author's enjoying what they've written, you know, enjoying the, they're almost celebrating a culture of celebrating life and a culture. I just felt Wow, imagine feeling that you could positively influence

00:56:02--> 00:56:23

the psychology of a young person, you know, you could positively influence them and and so that's what I mean, like, you know, that I felt really inspired by seeing sisters like you have their work out there. And thinking wow, this is so valuable, you know, in sha Allah some child somewhere is going to be reading that book and it's going to have

00:56:24--> 00:56:25


00:56:26--> 00:56:51

you know, affected them in a positive way. Hopefully so Yeah, exactly. Look Aaron for that. And for your encouragement as well. Um, the left May Allah accept it from all of us, and you know, put it in the scale of our deeds of our good deeds on Yamapi Amen. sha Allah, first of all, tell our viewers where they can connect with you on social media. I know you're on all the platforms, where's your favorite place to hang out online?

00:56:57--> 00:57:09

I think you know, if you'd like to catch up with my latest talks and lectures and things I think at the moment, that's that's the place that I'm kind of trying to

00:57:10--> 00:57:31

build at the moment and that's on YouTube. So I have a YouTube channel Fatima barkatullah You can just Google it. So I'm slowly uploading you know, my my talks and lectures over the years and hopefully that will benefit people. But yeah, generally speaking, I Facebook is the place I think, yeah.

00:57:33--> 00:57:44

Excited about the YouTube channel mashallah and yes, we will connect with your Facebook and if you are watching this you should be able to see or vitamin barkatullah has links below this including the link to buy her beautiful book.

00:57:45--> 00:57:54

Your Home Library and the library of your loved ones really is not complete without it, masha Allah so do get yourselves a copy and follow Fatima and

00:57:55--> 00:58:30

learn with her learn from her. And bottom I just want to say does not fade and for giving us your time today. I really really appreciate it. It's been a really inspiring time as always, so does that Hello Hayden and have a wonderful rest of day in Sharla you too, shall I hope everyone enjoys the rest of the summit and really, we get some great writers you know emerging from from this space shall have no doubt that we will inshallah did that cola cola Farah Salam alaykum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh welcome Salaam Alaikum.