Contemporary Sisters with Inspiring Stories
By Raza Sulejmanovic
Think back on all the times that you have been sick or injured. Reflect on what your feelings were then. Your motivation, your drive to pick yourself up and say that life goes on so I must as well. Did you go on with your regular daily activities? Did you perform your salat or was that too much of a burden for you in your time of pain and sadness?
Imagine suffering a heart attack. For many women, it’s an excruciating pain in your back that’s so intense that you cannot move—weakness overcomes you. You break into a heavy sweat, lose your bearings and can hardly speak. Then imagine suffering another that requires a surgery because your heart has become weakened. Your life has to change, adjustments need to be made. Alhamdulillah for the mercy of Islam, of the love of Allah, the Most Compassionate, who keeps those who acknowledge Him in mind and does not burden a person more than they can bear. You can no longer pray on the floor, but you can pray in your bed, or in a chair. Allah loves those who draw near to Him. Remember Him. And when there is difficulty those who strive on are rewarded even more for their strength and perseverance.
Now, what would you be doing with your life if this happened to you? Would you even get out of bed? For one woman, one sister named Linda Delgado, she not only got out of bed, so to speak, but she went above and beyond. In her weakened condition she did something significant that many of us who are perfectly healthy are unable to do. She authored a series of quality halal fiction (the Islamic Rose Books) for children with a 5th-8th grade reading level, which earned her the 2005 Excellence in Media, Literary Arts award from The Association of Muslim Women in America, Inc. (AMWA). Not only that, but she founded the Islamic Writers Alliance (www.islamicwritersalliance.net ) and an Islamic publishing company (www.MuslimWritersPublishing.com ) that she runs on her own. On her own! Muslim Writers Publishing serves Muslims authors that write quality Islamic fiction. So far, alhamdulillah, sixteen books have been published with four more to be expected this year. In addition, she contributes time and effort to charities that assist in food distribution and the addition of Islamic books to school libraries.
Her latest endeavor is to publish five teacher study guides (TSG) that accompany the Islamic Rose Books and two other works from different Muslim authors. Already the first in the series of study guides has been hailed as a must-have for a well-rounded Islamic curriculum by Sonia Dabboussi, the principle of Al-Hijra School in Canada. She states that, “[The] study guide allows your students to explore the novel in an exciting and hands-on way, and includes activities for cross-curricular integration in Language and Writing, Science, Social Studies, Health, Art, Second Language Learning and Religious Studies.” These study guides have been field-tested and approved by Muslim educators and instructors and are invaluable to schools who wish to provide quality halal fiction to their students. Each study guide includes: key curriculum connections, engaging Islamic integrated activities, critical thinking and reading comprehension, internet research and projects, multicultural themes and vocabulary and quizzes. [For editor: For more information on the TSG visit: http://www.muslimwriterspublishing.com/schools.html]
Let’s switch gears for a moment. Imagine all the times you’ve come up with an idea for something really great, really cool but never got around to doing anything about it. Moving beyond the actual idea seemed like too much work for you, if not just idealistic and impossible. That’s what some would say when it comes to creating a magazine, but not all. The difference between those who are successful and those who aren’t is that the ones who are met with success did what the others wouldn’t do. Na’ima B. Robert, editor of SISTERS Magazine is surely one of the successful. She’s used the gifts Allah has given her—creativity and strong faith—to work in His service. And it started in a very modest and simple way. “When people saw our first issue, they assumed that there was a whole team of professionals behind it. Little did they know that it was just Umm Zakariyyah and I in our living rooms, trying to speak to each other over Skype (free calls!) with our kids in the background,” says Na’ima B. Robert. Now the magazine, which started in March 2007 as an e-publication only, is the UK’s first magazine for Muslim women! Though the story behind the creation of the magazine may seem simple, the magazine did not come about without a cost. The sisters that worked to build it did not just float through the air with everything going their way. As Robert explains, “It has not been without cost – to ourselves financially, physically, emotionally and even spiritually at times – and certainly our families have paid a price.”
Out of generosity and in the name of sadaqah, HalfDate.com, whose motto is approaching Jannah half a date at a time, has decided to dedicate one of their monthly drives (May 2008,
“Sisters Drive”) to helping Linda Delgado see that children get quality education materials. More specifically, HalfDate.com, with the aid of Muslims on the Internet, is raising money for the creation of the teacher study guides. They got the idea after receiving contributor comments during their “Shoutout for Halal Business Drive” that praised Linda Delgado’s Muslim Writers Publishing company. For instance, a comment from Umm Janayd stated, “[MWP is] a one-woman run publishing business that has published over 15 books. Linda (Widad) Delgado (the publisher) is determined to publish quality Islamic books, especially Islamically-orientated fiction (call it Halaal-Fiction, if you like), and does not get a single penny profit from it – she gives 100% royalty to her authors. TabaarakAllaah!” While Saba wrote, “I would like to give a shout out to a Muslim publisher that I have recently bought some Islamic books from…..Muslim Writers Publishing. I was very pleased with the quality of both the service and the books themselves. If you are looking for quality Islamic fiction and non-fiction, this is the place to go.”
While one can donate directly towards the study guide project on the HalfDate.com site, SISTERS Magazine and other sister owned businesses, have been kind enough to add a special way to contribute to the noble cause. When someone subscribes to SISTERS Magazine and they email their receipt to (tamra at halfdate.com), $5 automatically gets donated to the drive. With comments like, “I love these sisters for helping me remember that I’m not just a Muslim- I’m a Muslim woman. Way too often I get caught up in my chores or worries, and I forget the beautiful things about being a girl. They remind me, alhamdulillah!” from UmmAbdurrahman, the cause will, insha’Allah, be a great success. Nevermind what Sofiyah, the editor of RUSH Magazine had to say, “I received a subscription as a gift, alhamdulilah. And I love that SISTERS Magazine makes it a point to be Islamically accurate tabarakAllah, we need more businesses who are not afraid of putting their deen first, but rather proud and happy to do so, and so there is no negotiating when it comes to deen.”
May Allah continue to guide and bless those that work hard for the deen by doing what’s right. Hard work for the cause of Allah reaps great rewards both in the dunya and in the Hereafter. With HalfDate.com‘s generous and thoughtful help, not only will strong and intelligent sisters that have done so much be benefited insha’Allah, but children, our precious future generations, will insha’Allah as well. Let the stories of these sisters serve as inspiration for us all. Ameen.
About the author:
Raza Sulejmanović currently resides in Northern Virginia with her very active and imaginative two-and-a-half year old son. In 2003 she converted to Islam after doing her own research. She is a published fiction and screenplay writer. She is currently working on creating quality Islamic/Islamic-themed fiction with a unique flare.