A Family of Authors
By Nazli Currim
Hafiz and her talented children
Dilara Hafiz and her children,
Yasmine, 16, and Imran, 15, who reside in Paradise Valley,
Arizona, have a revolutionary, first of its kind book for
the genre of Muslim teens. The American Muslim Teenager’s
Handbook is an engaging book packed with information
on Islam as well as quizzes, pictures, colorful art, and humor.
The teenager will find it difficult to gravitate away from
it, and the handbook may very well find its way on the night
stand, accessible for quick references in a language that
the teens can identify with, and an approach which can help
them develop confidence and take pride in their Muslim heritage.
The authors have used Abdullah Ali’s 1984 translation
and Abdullah Yusuf Ali’s 2001 edition translation of
the Holy Qur’an. The Handbook has included
results of questionnaires sent to American Muslin teens across
the nation living in the era of post 9/11. A medley of their
quotes, thoughts, opinions and views intermingle with the
dictates of the Qur’an and the Sunnah, makes it interestingly
informative, thought provoking and introspective.
As Asma Gul Hasan, author of American Muslims: The New Generation,
Why I am a Muslim: An American Odyssey says in the
book’s foreword, “The Handbook cannot
make decisions for you, but it can give you the tools and
judgment every young Muslim - actually every person - needs
to make a decision for themselves.”
Here are some excerpts from the interview of the author family.
What inspired you to write this book? What was your
main objective, your vision?
Yasmine: We were at Barnes & Nobles and
I was looking in the teen’s section. There were so many
books directed to teenagers coming from Christianity and Judaism
and we thought about it and decided that we can write a book
for the Muslim teens. We started by sending out a survey.
Dilara: There was a need for a book and based
on the results of the survey/questionnaire, a need for discussion,
to help so many teenagers to become interested in Islam
Imran: We wanted Islam to be fun, to take
pride in our faith. A lot of modern Muslim teens leave their
religion at the doorstep of their mosque or home, they don’t
advertise they are Muslims and they are not proud of who they
are really, and we want to tell people that it is okay to
be Muslim in America.
Yasmine: And also to demonstrate the compatibility
of being a Muslim and being an American at the same time,
these two things do not have to be in conflict with one another.
How did you divide the workload, the research, and
how long did it take to put it together?
Dilara: It took us two years. Partnering
was important. The kids gave a lot of input, what they are
facing as teenagers. They said, “ Well, we need to discuss
these topics” and it just evolved. We started with the
five pillars of Islam; and said we should have a chapter on
the Qur’an and a chapter on Prophet Muhammad and the
difficult topics facing the Muslim teens. The reality of life
for teenagers, whether they are Muslim, Christian, or Jewish.
Imran: Wherever you go you are going to find
these things; in High Schools, you will get an opportunity
to find alcohol, to have sex, to have drugs.
Dilara: We wanted that nothing should be
a taboo topic in a family so we have really tried to have
kids discuss these issues with their families, read the Qu’ran
and see the Guidance that’s laid down and the ways of
the life of the Prophet. We are not saying that we are advocating
any of these things.
Yasmine: This book is a guidebook and first
and foremost it is guiding you along with an Islamic point
of view, it is not saying what you have to do and what you
can’t do at all. You have to read the Qur’an and
see for yourself. It depends on your family, different families
have different rules.
Imran: A lot of families don’t talk
about these things and hope they never happen and the kids
don’t know what to do.
Dilara: And we also try to be non –
judgmental. It is not for us to pass judgments. Allah is the
Imran: We want to show teens that Islam is
not just a real strict or harsh religion. Islam is freedom.
The way a lot of kids are brought up they are told you have
to do this, this, and this or you cant do this, this, and
this; and that is Islam. Some of it is cultural. The thing
about Islam is that we don’t really have a pope who
says what we have to do. It is really an open religion and
it is up to the individual to interpret it according to the
guidelines of the Qur’an.
What were some of the challenges you faced? Which
one stands out as the most difficult?
Dilara: Trying to get Muslims to respond
to the questionnaire who were not involved in Islamic schools.
We posted the questionnaire on the web but they had no way
of answering on line and they would have to send it via e-mail.
I wish we could have had a way to find out about Muslim kids
who are not involved in the Mosque Community to think about
these matters. Our goal is to have the book available to as
wide an audience as possible, also in the non-Muslim bookstores.
We want it to be available in the Teen section as well as
the Religion section.
What kind of endorsements
do you expect from the Muslim community?
Imran: I think it will be mixed responses,
but I think overall our target audience is going to like it.
Yasmine: It is not about whether the critics
like it or not but what the teens will benefit from this book.
Dilara: We want to start a dialogue; we want
to encourage discussions of these issues, that is our goal.
Our main goal is to educate teenagers, non – Muslims
too. We hope they, (the Muslims) will learn and it will give
them confidence, improve their relationships with their immediate
families, friends, with the Ummah and make them feel they
belong. Also give hope to Muslim teens not living a Muslim
life as they could be, whether due to their parent’s
or through their choice, and empower some Muslim teens to
become better Muslims.
Yasmine: We don’t want the teens to
feel ostracized from Islam, we want them to feel, well, this
is my life, this is a Muslim life, I can be a Muslim.
Have you made
any personal and spiritual changes whilst and since writing
Imran: I have started to read the Qur’an more. Maybe
it is just not to read the Book but also going to Catholic
school, people don’t know much about Islam so I have
to be a spokesman for my religion and know more about my religion.
Dilara: It has given all of us confidence
to speak about Islam and that we shouldn’t be ashamed
to be Muslims. We are as free to talk about our religion as
Jews or the Hindus, or the Buddhists or the Christians do,
so we shouldn’t be afraid to talk about our religion.
Imran: Before 9/11 there would be a Christmas
party and I would say “I don’t celebrate Christmas.”
“Why Not?” “ Because I am a Muslim”
and they would say “What’s that”?
After 9/11, the query is: “You’re a MUSLIM? You
believe in KILLING people?” Gaining knowledge due to
the book I will be able to handle it better.
Dilara: We hope it will combat the negative
stereotype and empower Muslims to live as good Muslims and
good Americans and learn that the conflict shouldn’t
be as great as people perceive it to be.
When will the book be available in the market? Where
can the book be purchased?
Dilara: Hopefully June 1st. It can be purchased
through our website, www.theamth.com, at www.Amazon.com and
at the local bookstores. We will be doing a public appearance
and book signing at Changing Hands Bookstore.
There is always a lament from the teachers and parents of
young children that the non-Muslim bookstores and the libraries
are pathetic and very poorly equipped when it comes to books
for children that portray Muslims in a positive light, Muslim
holidays, Muslim families, Muslim art and culture and the
The Hafiz family have taken a giant step and done something
about it by having this book published. Asma Gul Hasan in
the book’s foreword, sums it up very precisely, “In
navigating through the wilds of American culture, balancing
it with one’s Islamic faith and ethnic heritage, one
surely needs a handbook just much as Boy Scouts do, maybe
even more so!”