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If you’re looking to become a writer but don’t know where to begin, you’re not alone.
We spoke to Abu Shama, author of children’s books ‘The Blue Moon‘ and the story of ‘Prophet Yunus & the Whale‘. His book about the Prophet is approved by Shaykh Haytham Tamim of Uttraj Foundation, giving his book Islamic validity.
He never anticipated becoming an author, and his academic background was far from creative.
However, writing is now his full-time passion and career. He explains his route into the industry.
‘Growing up in the 90s, I took the very masculine route, if that makes sense. I followed the idea that boys needed to study hard sciences. I studied engineering, mathematics and science.
But the one thing I really loved was being creative. I wasn’t great at writing, But I had a lot of ideas.
I got into writing by accident. I used to work within Corporate. We used to do report writing and stuff like that.
I took a lot of pleasure in writing reports, I used to go and sit in Islamic lectures and type up notes. I wrote quite a number of notes and I thought I need to do something with them.
I started typing it up And they became a report. after that, I thought, maybe I can turn it into a book. So it started off like that.
I went to an event. there was a writer there. I told them that I’m not a writer so they asked me what I did for a living. I said I write reports and he said to me
Abu Shama wrote The Blue Moon, a fictional story sharing his educational philosophy of combining multiple disciplines including science and art, astronomy and poetry, love and climate change.
Through this book, he hoped to invoke the human spirit of love, kindness, beauty and hope that is in the reader.
‘I remember when I started the whole thing, a lot of friends used to say, like, Who are you writing for? I told them that I’m not writing for anybody and I write for myself. They told me I need an audience, and so I tried to cater for that.
Later on, when I started reading people like Steinbeck, he would say that the whole idea of writing is you have to write for yourself. You don’t write for anybody else.
The moment you go away from your expression is the moment you start losing people because it’s no longer an expression of the soul.
It’s taken me a number of years, so I’m quite happy. Just doing things, because I like doing them.
I never saw myself being a children’s writer. I had a son, and I was looking to talk to him about a particular subject.
I think we need as many writers in the Islamic sector, especially for kids, but some of the books that I came across were very preachy.
We are so bogged down in telling a particular narrative that we may be giving the wrong impression of Allah. These thoughts could take years for a child to get rid of.
So we need to tell stories in a new way that captures the essence of the old but is said in line with our knowledge.’
‘Just start. Don’t even think, ‘I’m going to write a story.’
The idea of writing the story of Yunus was because I used to tell stories at bedtime. I thought I’ve told my son this story so many times, so let’s capture it. And that’s basically it.
There are so many different ways and places to find inspiration, and the idea is if you can capture a message that resonates with you, the chances are it’s going to resonate with someone else.
People are looking to write that one perfect book, but that book is trying to be so many things.
Don’t confine your ideas to one book.
I’ve got about 9 books coming out soon. Each one of them is representative of something that I particularly like or touches my area of life and has been captured.
My son was home-schooled from the age of three to seven, so I’ve had lots of conversations with him.
I recorded these conversations and put them into a book called ‘Let’s talk Dad.’ In there, we talk about everything from life to religion.
I didn’t set out to write these books. The reason why I’ve put them in a book is that I wanted to highlight the importance of fatherhood, and how fathers need to spend more time with their children. The absent father has been highlighted to show a detrimental effect.
There’s another book called ‘I can’t wait to go to Jannah,’ which is my son’s book really. He’s discussing with me why he can’t wait to go to Jannah.
He’ll say something like, ‘I can’t wait for my friends to come. Even the bullies at school can play with me because I want all hearts to be together.’
Everything that he says isn’t just his statement, but they also correspond to Quran, Hadith and certain principles. For example, the idea that all hearts will be one is what will happen in Jannah.
It’s a child’s perspective, but it’s also true. And that’s what truth is, truths are very, very simple things, statements that even a child can understand.’
To keep up with Abu Shama’s published works, you can follow him below
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