Ramadan reading list: 20 must-read books from Muslim authors

Ramadan reading list: 20 must-read books from Muslim authors
10 min read
13 March, 2024

Ramadan brings with it a welcome slowdown in the pace of life, as we focus on the people and moments that mean the most to us. And, beyond the religious elements of prayer and reading the Quran to get closer to Allah, connect with those you love by sharing a story or two this Ramadan.

From an introduction to the mosque for young children to essays by a British Palestinian writer, these 20 books are all by Muslim authors and present a range of experiences. Buying (or borrowing from the library) will support Muslim writers through Ramadan and beyond, and inspire and entertain you with your plans for Ramadan and beyond.

Ramadan books for toddlers and young children

Not Now, Noor! by Farhana Islam and Nabila Adani (illustrator)

Noor loves all the hijab-wearing women in her family, but she’s curious about why they wear headscarves. So she decides to go on a journey to find out, attempting to have conversations with her sister and her grandmother, among others. But it’s only when her mum arrives home that Noor gets the answers she’s seeking. Not Now, Noor! is a colourful and light introduction to the hijab, which can act as a starting point for deeper conversations.

'Not Now Noor!' is a heart-warming yet funny tale is a celebration of Muslim women, curious children, and family love [Puffin]
'Not Now Noor!' is a heart-warming yet funny tale is a celebration of Muslim women, curious children, and family love [Puffin]

The Most Exciting Eid by Zeba Talkhani and Abeeha Tariq (illustrator)

In this vibrant picture book The Most Exciting Eid, readers meet Safa, who is so excited for Eid-al-Fitr and all that it brings after the month of Ramadan, especially the presents. But throughout the book, Safa discovers that Eid is not really about gifts, but about kindness, sharing and community. Talkhani’s simple but effective text paired with Tariq’s bright illustrations make this a great introduction to the true meaning of Eid for young children.

In My Mosque by M. O. Yuksel and Hatem Aly (illustrator)

Yuksel and Aly invite everyone into the mosque in this joyful and informative picture book. In My Mosque shows all the different roles a mosque plays in the lives of Muslim people, from being a place of prayer and learning to being a space where people can eat together, help each and even play. This picture book is a welcoming and wonderful look at the mosque.

Meet the Maliks: The Cookie Culprit by Zanib Mian and Kyan Cheng (illustrator)

Meet twins Maysa and Musa Malik, who are complete opposites. Put them together though, and they make an unstoppable mystery-solving duo. The Cookie Culprit is the first in a new series of tales by Mian, author of the award-winning Planet Omar books, and sees Maysa trying to get in her parents’ good books (and be allowed to go on a school trip) by taking part in a cookie competition at the mosque. But when all the cookies are destroyed, Maysa, Musa and their neighbour, Norman, have to work out who the culprit is and save Maysa's reputation.

City of Stolen Magic by Nazneen Ahmed Pathak

In Ahmed Pathak’s historical novel City of Stolen Magic, the British have still colonised India. Only this time, among the resources they’re keen on stealing, is the magic that is found in some people in the country, including Chompa and her mum. When Chompa’s mum is kidnapped by the British in 1855, Chompa leaves her small village to track her down, a quest that takes her to England and into the paths of some very unsavoury people. Ahmed Pathak’s story is a fun and fraught adventure that also offers young people a path to understanding and discussing colonialism and its effects.

Safiyyah’s War by Hiba Noor Khan

Set during the Second World War, Safiyyah’s War is about the titular character, and how her life changes when war comes to the streets of Paris, where she lives. Her best friend’s family has fled, and when her father is arrested by the Nazis for his secret Resistance work, it falls to Safiyyah to run the dangerous errands around the city and to help hundreds of persecuted Jewish people who are seeking sanctuary at the mosque. Hiba Noor Khan’s novel is inspired by the little-known real-life story of how the Grand Mosque helps Jews escape the Nazis in Paris.

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Ramadan books for teenagers and young adults

As Long as the Lemon Tree Grows by Zoulfa Katouh

Don’t say we didn’t warn you: have tissues, and plenty of them, at the ready when you start reading As Long as the Lemon Trees Grow. The novel follows Salama, who a year ago was watching her brother get married and dreaming about her own love story. Now, after the revolution, she works at a hospital trying to save those she can and mourn those she can’t. The only people Salama has left are her best friend Layla and her unborn baby, as well as Khawf, but he’s a hallucination who every day urges Salama to leave Syria. She refuses, until one day she crosses paths with Kenan, a boy who wants to stay and risk his life for everything Syria could be.

All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir

Salahudin and Noor are not just best friends, they’re family. Having grown up as outcasts in a small town in California, they understand each other like no one else does, until a fight destroys their bond. Each finds themselves alone trying to deal with their family troubles, and when Sal’s attempts to run his family motel spiral out of control, he and Noor must reassess what friendship really means. Sabaa Tahir’s novel has won multiple awards and is a searing look at friendship and family.

Once Upon an Eid edited by S. K. Ali and Aisha Saeed

Bringing together a host of Muslim writers, Once Upon an Eid is a short story collection of stories revolving around the Islamic holiday after the holy month of Ramadan. Contributors include G. Willow Wilson, who wrote the Kamala Khan Ms Marvel comics, Randa Abdel-Fattah; author of Does My Head Look Big in This; and Hena Khan, author of Under My Hijab. The 15 stories in this book offer a range of perspectives on Eid and form a celebratory look at one of the most important moments in the Islamic calendar.

Huda F Are You? by Huda Fahmy

You might have seen Huda Fahmy’s very funny cartoons on social media, which she turned into a book titled Yes, I’m Hot in This. Huda F Are You? is a graphic novel about a young American Muslim growing up and figuring out who she is. It focuses on Huda, who has just moved with her family to a small town in Michigan that has a large Muslim population. Although everyone is Muslim, Huda feels like she doesn’t fit in with any of the Muslim cliques. Fun and funny, Fahmy’s graphic novel is relatable to anyone who’s ever felt a bit different.

Where Sleeping Girls Lie by Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé

Farida Àbíké-Íyímídé’s second novel follows Sade Hussein, the new girl at an elite private school. Previously home-schooled, Sade finds the peace of her new world shattered quickly when her roommate goes missing and then a student is found dead. Soon Sade is in the midst of a mystery that puts her in danger and risks exposing sinister secrets. Àbíké-Íyímídé’s Where Sleeping Girls Lie is a sharp look at male power and privilege, and how they affect us all.

Ramadan books for adults

The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi by Shannon Chakraborty

The title character of Shannon Chakborty’s book is retired, but not from any regular career: she’s a retired pirate. Once one of the Indian Ocean's most notorious pirates, she's now dedicated to her peaceful family life. But when she's tracked down by the obscenely wealthy mother of a former crewman, she's offered a job no bandit could refuse: retrieve her comrade's kidnapped daughter for a kingly sum. The Adventures of Amina Al-Sirafi is a rollicking rollercoaster of a book through the high seas, with a pirate all should fear and admire.

Amira's adventures on the high seas are filled with quirky characters and spooky monsters [Harper Voyager/Goodreads]
Amira's adventures are filled with quirky characters and spooky monsters [Harper Voyager/Goodreads]

The Return of Faraz Ali by Aamina Ahmad

As riots erupt in the streets of Lahore in Pakistan in 1968, Inspector Faraz Ali returns to the place where he was born: the red-light district in the walled inner city. There, his powerful but cold father has tasked him with covering up the murder of a young courtesan. As Faraz delves deeper into the case, memories of the mother and sister he was taken away from haunt him and stop him from following his father’s orders, with long-term consequences. The Return of Faraz Ali is a captivating, heartrending novel about family and bonds that never break.

How to Make Money by Nafisa Bakkar

If you’re seeking inspiration on how to turn your side hustle into your main hustle, or how to take the steps to set up that business you’ve been dreaming about for years, then How to Make Money should be on your reading list. Nafisa Bakkar is the CEO and co-founder of Amaliah, a media company that centres on Muslim women, and this book offers advice based on her experience of building a business from scratch with no network, no capital and no previous experience.

The Movement by Ayisha Malik

Silence is golden, goes the saying, but it’s something Malik’s protagonist in The Movement finds might not be quite true. When Sara Javed first begins a voluntary silence, in the face of the outrage she constantly sees across social media as well as in person, she’s greeted with alarm. But then people begin to see her as a figurehead, and 'The Silent Movement' goes global. As outrage grows and global structures begin to shift, Sara and two women inspired by her must reconsider what it means to be a voice. Ayisha Malik tackles big issues around how we speak with her usual humour and insight.

Namesake by NS Nuseiba

NS Nuseiba is a British Palestinian and Namesake is her first book of essays, in which she uses the legendary Nusayba bint Ka'ab al Khazrajia – who fought alongside the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) at the dawn of Islam – to explore the experience of being an Arab woman today. Nuseiba looks at ideas around heritage, gender, feminism and home through her essays, linking our current ideas of Muslims and Arabs with their origins and exploring myth-making and identity.

Win Every Argument by Mehdi Hasan

Clips of Mehdi Hasan questioning and debating people on topics including the far right, Islam and the current genocide in Gaza have gone viral, and for good reason: few people are more prepared and better able to win an argument than the British American journalist. In Win Every Argument, Hassan gives tips on how to communicate with confidence, when to wade into a debate and more. Whether on national television or in a heated political discussion over a family dinner, you’ll win after reading this book.

Desified by Zaynah Din

There comes a point in Ramadan when you’re out of inspiration for what to cook, and you just want something quick and easy yet still delicious. That’s when you need Zaynah Din, who became famous on TikTok for her fantastic 30 days of Ramadan recipes. Desified is a celebration of South Asian flavours and spices and contains speedy breakfast recipes, simple and satisfying dinners, and feasting dishes to share.

We Are Not Here to Be Bystanders by Linda Sarsour

Linda Sarsour is best known for being a co-organiser of the Women’s March, which took place in 2017, the day after the inauguration of Donald Trump as president. In her memoir, she shares how growing up as a Palestinian Muslim American influenced her to become an activist.

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Much Ado About Nada by Usma Jalaluddin

Nada Syed is mourning the loss of her start-up, which failed because of a double-crossing business partner. Living at home with her parents, she feels stuck. When Nada’s best friend Haleema, determined to pry her from her shell, takes her to a giant annual Muslim conference, Nada meets Baz. What Haleema doesn’t know is that Nada and Baz have a secret history, and their chance encounter will bring about a moment of reckoning. Jalaluddin is one of our best contemporary Muslim romance authors, and if you like Much Ado About Nada, has a whole backlist of titles to explore.

Sarah Shaffi is a freelance literary journalist and editor. She writes about books for Stylist Magazine online and is the books editor at Phoenix Magazine.

Follow her here: @sarahshaffi