Muslim Teens in Pitfalls and Pranks
Author – Maryam Mahmoodian
Publisher – Muslim Writers Publishing
Paperback 161 pages
Muslim Teens in Pitfalls and Pranks chronicles a couple of weeks in the lives of a group of Muslim American teenagers. All either friends or acquaintances, these young adults face situations and challenges that most young Muslims can relate to. The book focuses on a number of significant events that take place in their lives, and how they deal and cope with them, all the while keeping the reader entertained and curious to know more.
There is so much that can be extracted from this! From the struggles (and a particularly nasty incident) that Elham faces because of her hijab in school, to the background information about her parents struggle as refugees when she was just a baby, and from the racist vandalism that Khalid has to deal with, to the very kind and supportive nature of his manager James, the first few chapters are filled with real-life relatable occurrences with great underlying explanations and teaching moments. Any parent or teenager, living in a majority non-Muslim country will be able to relate to the feelings of some or all of the characters.
In amongst all this, Ibrahim is struggling with a different set of challenges. A girl at school has asked him out and his decisions and the consequence of his actions are explored and explained. He comes to some very important realisations during this time and his feelings and thoughts are probably widely felt by most teenagers in his situation.
At the same time, Nur is convinced that her brother, Saad, is becoming too extreme in his interpretation of Islam and fears that his association with some Saudi Arabian friends is nothing short of trouble. The resulting outcome of this scenario is rather funny. Saad finds out what Nur is thinking and plans to trick her – but she is even further ahead of him! Through this Nur learns some important lessons about suspicion, jumping to conclusions and stereotyping people in the same way that she adamantly speaks out against.
I particularly enjoyed the way that the book mentions and accepts the different viewpoints within the Muslim community. The mention of the conservative Saudi friends highlights to Nur that our perceptions of people can cloud our judgement. The combined Islamic Centre for Sunni and Shia Muslims they run in their community also serves as a reminder for tolerance and acceptance even within our own ranks.
The book is a fantastic read which will give teenagers (and adults) a feeling of security in their faith. In the case of Ibrahim being asked out by a girl, by exploring the reasons why we do things differently, we gain strength in the knowledge that we do what we do for the sake and pleasure of Allah.
What’s particularly striking is the case of Elham and her hijab struggles – by her reaching out to those who offended her, we see that their issue with her was as a result of unfamiliarity and a lack of understanding. Often, by being ‘different’ we are often stereotyped, but we too, tend to stereotype others. By reaching out to others and breaking down barriers first, by showing how we are similar to others and then what makes us Muslim, we too can break down the stereotypes.
Muslim Teens in Pitfalls and Pranks is a fun, informative read, which covers many scenarios that teens are likely to experience in some way or another. It provides thorough guidance by using real-life experiences in a believable way. The advice the book provides is sound, relatable and non-preachy and it is written in a way that will keep the reader entertained.
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