The Garden of My Imaan by Farhana Zia is a beautiful book that centers around Aliya, a Muslim middle-grader living in post 9-11 America.
The 9-11 incident changed the lives of all Americans, especially the lives of Muslims living in America. What is it like to be an American Muslim, especially a teenager girl? Dealing with comments about their beliefs, struggling to fit in with the liberal society becomes part and parcel of their life. But it is no fun.
This award-winning book, The Garden of My Imaan, written by Farhana Zia and published by Peach Tree publishers, brings out all the struggles of middle grader, Aliya.
Aliya is an Indian Muslim girl who is struggling to fit into her school. She is very shy and is not brave enough to stand up to other mean kids. She is reluctant to wear hijab and to fast during Ramadan.
As a part of her Islam school project, she starts to write letters to Allah and through the process she truly identifies herself and builds her confidence. How does she do it and who helps her, apart from the family, forms the crux of the story.
The story revolves around Aliya but in my opinion, the main character is Marwa the Muslim girl from Morocco who molds Aliya and helps her to understand her identity.
What I liked
I like the first-person narrative stories. It not only captivates you but helps us understand the problem/plot and get involved with the story.
I love the diary-like letters written by Aliya to Allah. I so wish her questions are answered.
Last but not the least, the cover page. The beautiful smile of the girl wearing Hijab always brings a huge smile to me. The books do talks about the Hijab a lot and how that explicitly identifies them as Muslims and the problem of it.
Unity among Diversity and the author brings that message wonderfully. My favorite quotes from the book are,
It’s easy to do what our heart tells us. It’s a heck of a lot harder to obey our mind.
Friends, we are in this together. We can make a difference if we stick to each other like glue. This is not about you or about me… it is about us, working together and working hand in hand!