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ILLUSTRATION & DESIGN Rahima Begum Š 2014 Shroomantics www.shroomantics.wordpress.com


Assalamu alaikum, It is always a pleasure to marvel at the entries of the Young Muslim Writers Awards. This year the writers have taken our judges on journeys throughout the world and across time. The judges felt jubilation, despair and excitement, all through the power of the written word penned by this year’s shortlist. Stories and poetry can transform lives, and reflecting on these pleasurable reads written by such young authors continues to inspire us. In the spirit of transforming society, Muslim Hands has been providing relief to some of the poorest communities in the world for the past twenty years. Closer to home we have delivered women leadership projects, drug awareness, prisoner rehabilitation, community cohesion programmes, education intervention schemes, booster classes for poor performing and underachieving children and poverty alleviation within local communities in the UK. We have worked with thousands of students in our collaboration with libraries, schools and youth organisations to raise the standards of child literacy and to enable young people to be confident communicators and high achievers. We are often told by authors that the key to writing well is through reading well. We hope you enjoy this magazine which holds exciting stories and poetry, helpful tips and messages of congratulations for our shortlisted writers. We are pleased to be working with the Yusuf Islam Foundation again, and on behalf of Muslim Hands I warmly congratulate all who entered the competition; I look forward to a bright future for each of you. Syed Lakhte Hassanain Chairman, Muslim Hands Reading is a journey. A journey that allows us to plunge into the midnight depths of the midnight ocean, travel to the heart of the blinding white arctic, and delve into the mysteries of forgotten worlds. We can experience the joys of discovery, the highs of success, the lows of loss and the anguish of not knowing what will happen next. To be able to read is to be able to explore. The possibilities are infinite. The many happeneds, the many happenings and the many may-never-happens can be relished by each one of us using something decidedly magical, but also quite, quite earthly: 26 little squiggles. Yes, 26 little markings –which can be arranged into as many combinations as the heart desires - each time taking us on a new adventure. So use these 26 little squiggles, punctuated by the wonderful creatures that are commas, full stops, exclamation marks, semi colons and their siblings. Use them and journey to other worlds. Then bring back your stories - fresh, piping hot and ready for us to taste and devour. We are very happy that once again the Yusuf Islam Foundation is able to sponsor the Young Muslim Writers Award. As an educational charity with three schools in London, reading and writing is at the heart and soul of what we do. We’d like to wish you all the very best of luck and a heartfelt congratulations to all those who have been nominated and selected. Well done! Wassalam, Asmaa Islam Georgiou Chairperson, Yusuf Islam Foundation


YMWA14 Shortlist - P0etry KEY STAGE 1 POETRY Aneesa Fadhlullah Agbaje - Cherries are Nice, as Small as Mice AbdurRahman SheikhMohamud - Allah Loves Children Aisha Kamuka - The Cat and His Friends Khadijah Shah - Weather Yaqub Kheyar - My Helpful Mummy KEY STAGE 2 POETRY Mayah Anwar - The River Iman Uddin - The Four Seasons Alwaaz Khan - The Bullet Saffiyah Baig - In the Deep Dark Forest Safa Mundiya - Summer Slides KEY STAGE 3 POETRY Jasmin Khanom - Everything Precious Must be Covered Hamza Amer - Sonnets Nafeesah Siddique - Graphite Stained Zakia Duaale - My Soul Aymen Ahmed - The Hungry Fire KEY STAGE 4 POETRY Safah Ahmed - Borders Amani Uddin - I Am Amani Siddique - Imprison the Moment Hajar Saihi - She Lost a Soul, a Breath; Dead Maya Mahmood - Three Poems


YMWA14 Shortlist - Short story KEY STAGE 1 SHORT STORY Humaymah Member - Be Kind to All Maariah Mindhola - How I Met a Dinosaur Abdarrahman Al Sakkaf - The Crocodile Rihab Riyaz - The Painful Fate of Ali Sufyan Zamir - The Syrian Story KEY STAGE 2 SHORT STORY Hannah Rehman - Darkness Comes for Everyone, Eventually! Takreem Ahmad - Folksaga Fajr Amer - Freedom Iman Uddin - Pride of Brindle Zakariya Ravalia - Shot KEY STAGE 3 SHORT STORY Yasser Hussainey - Horror Detention Ammaarah Samuel - New World Mariam Ahmad - Ninja Nun: Origins Maryam Ahmed - The Hunt Imaan Maryam Irfan - The Piper KEY STAGE 4 SHORT STORY Amani Uddin - Poppy Dilemmas Madihah Hasan - Syria: We Will be Free Fathima Ra'ana Riyaz - The Grass on the Other Side Taiba Summan Asghar - The Price Amani Anwar - We're All Cowards Here


Adam in Lost and Found © Zanib Mian Adam and his family were on a train, on their way back from visiting Aunty Fatima in Manchester. Adam loved trains! He loved how the doors whooshed open, he loved how fast they were and best of all, he loved the noises they made. Adam looked at the toy plane in his hand. He took it everywhere with him, it was his absolute favourite. Mum had even carved his name into it. But he wished he had a toy train. “Come on,” said Dad “time to get off the train.” Just then Adam saw something shiny and red. He went to get a closer look. It was a toy train! As they stepped off the train and joined the crowd of people, mum asked, “What’s that you have there Adam?” “It’s a train! I found it! Finders keepers losers weepers!” “Twain twain!” shouted Zacharia. Dad said everyone should sit on the bench and talk about the train. Mum and Dad wanted Adam to give the train to the lost property man. “A little child has lost that train Adam, and he will be very upset if he can’t get it back,” said Mum. “But I like it… and I found it,” Adam said. Mariam said Adam was being a selfish little boy. Dad explained that if Adam did the right thing Allah would be pleased with him and give him a good reward. But if he didn’t he would have to tell Allah one day why he kept something that wasn’t his to keep. Adam closed his eyes and thought very hard. “Ok,” he said “I absolutely want to give it to the lost property man.” Mum gave him a warm hug.


Later, when they were home Adam looked in his rucksack for his toy plane. But it wasn’t there. Adam was very sad. Mariam said she would help him look everywhere for his plane. “Let’s look between the sofa cushions!” Mariam said. It wasn’t there. But they did find a dried up hula hoop, a lollipop and five pence coin. “Let’s look in the toy trunk!” said Adam. It wasn’t there. But they did find an oven glove and one of Adam’s red socks. “Let’s look under mum and dad’s bed!” Mariam said. It wasn’t there. But they did find a wooden spoon, dad’s hammer and a story book. Everyone thought very hard. Then they realised something. Dad asked Adam if he remembered having the plane with him when they came home. Adam could not remember. Mum knew what had happened, when he had found the toy train he forgot all about his plane and left it on the train. Dad put him on his lap, “Don’t worry,” he said, “I’m sure whoever found it gave it to the lost property man, like you did.” The next day Mum took Adam to see the lost property man. “To prove this plane is yours, tell me what is carved onto it?” said the lost property man. “It says Captain Adam!” “It sure does! This is your plane Captain.” Adam was happy with his plane. And he was happy he gave the toy train to the lost property man.

First published by Sweet Apple Publishers 2012


My Sari © Debjani Chatterjee Saris hang on the washing line: A rainbow in our neighbourhood. This little orange one is mine, It has a mango leaf design. I wear it as a Rani would. It wraps around me like sunshine, It ripples silky down my spine, And I stand tall and feel so good.

‘My Sari’, from Unzip Your Lips: 100 Poems to Read Aloud (Macmillan Children’s Books), is reprinted by permission of the author.


How I write Tips for Young Writers by Jane Ray

As an illustrator and author of children’s books I am often asked where ideas come from. So I’ve put together a few tips that work for me, and I hope that they may be useful to you too, in your writing. It starts with collecting. People collect all sorts of things – shells, jam jars, bits of string, old toy cars… I collect ideas for stories. Like a magpie, I’m always on the lookout for sparkling scraps and snippets that might inspire me. I collect them together in a notebook that I always carry with me, writing them down or drawing them, to help me remember what I’ve seen. And those scraps and snippets come from all over the place – from an overheard conversation (I’m very nosy!), to a walk down the street or even a dream. An example – one day I was sitting on a bus and I heard a woman behind me telling her friend about how she had accidentally dyed her dog blue! I didn’t ever find out how on earth this had happened, or why, or how the dog reacted, because she got off at the next stop. But what a great idea – a blue dog! Another day I was walking through the park and I saw a golden key on a piece of ribbon hanging from a twig on a tree. I guess someone had dropped the key when they were walking, and someone else had seen it and hung it on the tree so that it might be found later. But that gave me an idea to go into a story straight away – where did the key come from? Might it unlock a secret door in the tree? Where would the door take you? These ideas I wrote down and sketched, in my notebook. Over the years I have filled lots of notebooks and they have become invaluable sources of inspiration for my stories. They are like a store cupboard of ideas!


Sometimes children tell me that they get frustrated with writing because they have a great idea for the start of a story, or an idea for a wonderful character to star in a story. They write pages and pages, and maybe draw the character they are thinking about, but then they don’t know how to end the story. Or they know how the story ends but they can’t find a satisfactory middle, and they get fed up and abandon it. That happens to me too. I often have a great idea for part of a story but no idea how to complete it. So I keep all those ideas in a safe place, in my notebooks, and I carry on collecting my scraps and snippets, writing down good ideas for beginnings and characters, and middles and endings. And then later, it might be months or even years later, when I’m reading through my notebooks, I realize that the beginning I came up with in June goes really well with the middle I thought of in February. And a character that came to me in a dream in August is actually who the the story is all about. And that is why I’m writing a story about turning a golden key in a door in amongst the roots of an ancient tree, that leads to a land where a blue dog rules… Not sure how it ends yet though… any ideas?


LOOK AFTER OUR SONS © Chris Ashley Does he cry out for me? Man in broken body. Boy at brave heart. You have my son. Does he cry out for me when you hurt him? In his nightmares he did that. “Dad!” And I can’t come. Can he hold back his tears? I know he will try – or is it too much? We both know it will be. It always is. But I first heard those tears, those cries in a white tiled room as I picture him now. That room filled with instruments of life, his mother and a loving first hold... so careful not to hurt or damage. What prayer to make your room the same.

Then he was mine. For now he is yours. Do you have a son? Were you in a white tiled room as I picture you now? Then look after my son as if he were yours. Look after our sons. Please.


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Writing fiction Ten Tips for Young Fiction Writers by Shahida Rahman

READ

Writers read. Reading helps you develop your own style, expand your vocabulary and spark your imagination.

OBSERVE

Pay attention. Carry a notebook and record sights, sounds, smells, tastes and physical feelings. These can be given to your characters.

WRITE EVERY DAY

Practice! Write stories, letters or keep a journal. Olympians train – so do writers.

KNOW YOUR CHARACTERS

Get to know your characters. Where do they live? Who are their friends? What frightens them? What are their dreams?

CREATE

Dare to be different. Let your imagination soar. Spend some time simply capturing your story in print. This is your first draft.

LET IT REST

You are too close to your story to see the weak points. Walk away. Don’t even peek for as long as you can.

READ IT AGAIN

You have now gained some distance from your story and will see it with brand new eyes. You might find spelling mistakes or maybe Max, the brown dog becomes Max, the black dog. Keep a pencil handy and make notes.

REVISE

All good writing needs to be rewritten. Read through your notes and make the changes.

REPEAT

Rest and revise as needed.

CELEBRATE!

You have written a story.


EACH TIME Š James Rumford

I wonder how could I, so small, just one person, bring peace to this fighting world. I might as well try to touch the clouds or journey to the stars or travel to the far corners of the globe. Yet each time I let raindrops fall on my upturned face, it is the clouds out of reach that touch me.

Each time I take the first step and go where I’ve never gone before, it is the world that opens up to me.

Each time I Each time I smile, dance in the twinkling night so small, it is the stars just one person, so very far away and make a friend, that have journeyed it is peace to meet me. that comes to me.

Each Time Š 2014 by James Rumford, used by permission [August 7, 2014]


Sorry © Boonaa Mohammed I’m sorry, And I know sorry is not enough, but I’m sorry it’s all I have And I’m sorry I can’t speak on behalf of anyone but the man that I am I’m sorry for my failures, my inadequacies which unfortunately I do not always see Because I have this bad habit of speaking before my tongue asks my brain to proceed So please forgive me; I will make mistakes until the day I cease to breathe And you will find many more if you make it your mission to seek So please don’t hold them against me, instead make excuses for me And if you see something wrong in me, then please advise me privately I am nowhere near perfect; in fact I am perfectly incomplete Inconsistence with my purpose, carrying my own worth of bad deeds I used to be in love with conflicts, ready for anyone to step to me Had an attitude of ingratitude, a straight rude boy recipe You could catch me on the corner, posted up being deceived I wanted to be a bad boy, until I saw bad men deceased Rest in Peace, to my ego every time I put my head to the floor In complete humiliation, I seek salvation from the most Forgiving Lord I’m sorry to my mother, who I sometimes wouldn’t kiss Days and weeks would pass by and I wouldn’t even remember this gift Of life she sacrificed, stretch marks and teeth bites Grey hairs, over the years just to see things aint black and white * continued on boonaa.com


Meet the judges BOB RACZKA Author of the popular art appreciation series, Bob Raczka’s Art Adventures, Chicagoan Bob studied art in college and worked as an advertising writer for more than 25 years. A few years ago he discovered poetry, and now Bob is a children’s poet as well. His first poetry effort, Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys, was awarded the Claudia Lewis Award by Bank Street College. His second poetry book, Lemonade: And Other Poems Squeezed from a Single Word, was named both an ALA and an NCTE Notable. Bob’s most recent titles include Joy in Mudville, a sequel to Casey at the Bat, and a holiday haiku collection called Santa Clauses.

BOONAA MOHAMMED Boonaa is a critically acclaimed award winning writer and performer with accolades including a playwright residency at Theatre Passe Muraille, a short story published in a Penguin Canada anthology Piece by Piece and various slam poetry titles credits including winner of the 2007 CBC Poetry Face-Off Best New Artist Award. His popular YouTube channel has received millions of views and he has toured across the world. He frequently conducts writing workshops and seminars, sharing his experience and expertise in spoken word story-telling with young people.

CHRIS ASHLEY A Londoner living in the north, Chris Ashley is the Head teacher of Fairfield CP School in Bury. Inspired by his father, author Bernard Ashley, Chris took up writing as a hobby when he stopped playing football.

Chris enjoys writing about real people and issues which are usually based on ideas inspired by the children he teaches. He started writing about football, wrote a novel and six episodes of a television series about school for Granada TV. Then, a charismatic pupil who was a trier despite the problems he confronts inspired the Wasim series of stories. The new Wasim story is ready and looking for a new publishing home.


DEBJANI CHATTERJEE MBE Debjani Chatterjee is an award-winning Indian-born poet, editor, translator, children's writer and founder of Sahitya Press. She has written and edited over 50 books, including a number of poetry collections. Sheffield Hallam University awarded her an honorary doctorate for literature, the arts and community service. In the 2008 New Year Honours she was awarded an MBE. Her many residencies have included York St John University, the Ilkley Literature Festival, Bedfordshire Schools, Kelvin Grove Museum & Art Gallery and Sheffield Children's Hospital and the Millennium Galleries. As a children’s writer and storyteller, Debjani’s retelling of traditional tales was selected for the Children’s Book of the Year, and her multilingual interactive play The Honoured Guest was toured by Twisting Yarn Theatre and published by Faber & Faber in Plays for Children 2.

HANZLA MACDONALD Hanzla is a writer and film-maker. In 2009, he won two awards with the Young Muslim Writers Awards. From 2010 to 2013, he studied for a BA in English Literature from Oxford University and from 2013 to 2014 he studied for an MA in Film and Television at Birmingham University. He has written several plays which have been produced at venues in Coventry, Oxford and Birmingham. Alongside his writing and literary interests, Hanzla keeps a blog where he provides commentary and criticism on television content and social media trends.

JAMES RUMFORD James Rumford lives in Honolulu, Hawai‘i and is an awardwinning children's book author and illustrator. His books have been translated into six languages and deal with a variety of topics, from stories of Hawai‘i to tales from distant lands.

James’ non-fiction work includes several biographies for children, most notably about Champollion, Ibn Battuta, and the Cherokee silversmith named Sequoyah. His upcoming biography which he wrote and illustrated, From the Good Mountain, tells the story about how the first printed book was made. He has received several awards for his writing and illustrating including two Zolotow Awards, a Siebert Honor Award, two Jane Addams Peace Awards, and the Sugarman Award for American Biography.


JANE RAY Jane has been illustrating picture books for many years, and more recently has been writing them too. She trained at Middlesex University in 3 Dimensional Design - specialising in Ceramics, and has been illustrating since she graduated. She has designed cards, posters and book jackets but finds the picture book is the most satisfying format, and is particularly drawn to folk and fairy tales from every culture. Her own writing often draws on these sources for inspiration. Jane works with children in schools or in the community, and finds the experience of working with children helps to keep her work fresh.

JO COTTERILL Jo Cotterill has published 22 books for children and young adults. Her novel Red Tears (under the name Joanna Kenrick) was shortlisted for the Lancashire Book Awards. Her latest novel is Looking at the Stars, a story of refugees and the power of imagination. Critics have called it ‘powerful and compelling … a book that will be talked about long after it has been put down.’ Jo lives in Oxfordshire and loves gardening, making cards and reading.

KATHERINE LANGRISH Katherine Langrish writes fantasy novels for children and young adults. Her Viking trilogy, Troll Fell, Troll Mill and Troll Blood, was recommended in the ‘Top 160 Books for Boys’ compiled by the School Library Association, and was republished in an omnibus edition as West of the Moon in 2011. Her writing draws on folklore and legends, and has often been compared with that of Alan Garner. Katherine’s books have been published in many languages, and she also keeps a blog Seven Miles of Steel Thistles, where she writes about folklore, fairytales and fantasy.


KHALEEL MUHAMMAD Khaleel is one of the most established artists in the nasheed industry whose soulful voice and dynamic stage performances have made him an internationally known performer. Khaleel has produced four videos and three albums, Heaven, Dhikr of Life and The Adventures of Hakim: 2 which also feature other nasheed artists. The original Adventures of Hakim was released to help children tackle crime, drugs and gangs. Khaleel is the author of Muslim All Stars: Helping the Polonskys, a children’s book with Manga-style illustrations. Khaleel is also providing illustrations for Allah’s Amazing Messengers and his own Muslim superhero book Millenium Five. Khaleel hosts the Kids Round Show on Inspire 105.1 FM.

MIRIAM MOSS Miriam is an award winning author of children’s picture books and non-fiction. She also writes short stories and has just finished her first novel. She leads creative writing workshops with children, young people and adults throughout the UK and abroad. She grew up in Africa, China and the Middle East before living in England, and now lives in Sussex.

NATHALIE HANDAL Nathalie is from Bethlehem, Palestine, and is considered one of the most important voices of her generation. She is the author of numerous books, including the critically acclaimed Poet in Andalucía, which Alice Walker lauds as “the sorrowing song of longing and resolve,” and Love and Strange Horses, winner of the Gold Medal Independent Publisher Book Award, which The New York Times says is “a book that trembles with belonging (and longing).” Nathalie is a Lannan Foundation Fellow, winner of the Alejo Zuloaga Order in Literature, and Honored Finalist for the Gift of Freedom Award, among other honors. Her collection The Invisible Star, is forthcoming.

RICHARD GRANT Richard, also known as Dreadlockalien, is a poet of AngloIndian and Caribbean origin and is the tenth Poet Laureate of Birmingham. As a workshop facilitator, he focuses on the disenfranchised, believing “the cradle of creativity lies at the fringes of society.” Issues Dreadlockalien touches on include identity, immigration and citizenship. He has empowered those in secure units, young offenders institutions, schools and community venues.


ROSEMARY HAYES Rosemary lives in rural Cambridgeshire with her husband and an assortment of animals. She worked for Cambridge University Press and then for some years she ran her own publishing company, Anglia Young Books. Rosemary has written over thirty books for children including two books about young British Muslims, Mixing It and Payback, both shortlisted for awards. She is a reader for a well known authors’ advisory service and she also runs creative writing workshops for both children and adults.

SHADAB ZEEST HASHMI Shadab Zeest Hashmi is an award winning poet and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize multiple times. Her book Baker of Tarifa won the 2011 San Diego Book Award for poetry. Her work has appeared in Poetry International, Vallum, Nimrod, The Bitter Oleander, The Cortland Review, Journal of Postcolonial Writings, Hubbub, UniVerse: A United Nations of Poetry and 3 Quarks Daily. She has taught in the MFA program at San Diego State University as a writer-in-residence.

SHAHIDA RAHMAN Shahida is an author and publisher and was born and raised in Cambridge, England. Shahida’s writing includes Ibrahim-Where in the Spectrum Does he Belong? a memoir about raising a son with a learning disorder. More recently Shahida has authored Lascar, a work of historical fiction inspired by a paternal ancestor, a lascar (seaman). The novel was shortlisted for the Muslim Writers Awards’ Unpublished Novel prize in 2008, and longlisted for the Brit Writers Unpublished Novel prize 2010. She has also written The Lascar, a radio play.

SHEMIZA RASHID Shemiza is a multi-award winning interfaith practitioner, teacher, radio producer, broadcaster, author of Diary of the Wimpy Mom and a mother of six young children. She is also the founder of the Creative Muslim Network and children’s performing arts club Shining Ummah. Passionate about ethical food and child food poverty, Shemiza joined celebrity BBC Two chef Cyrus Todiwalla and the Masterchefs as part of a live judging panel for the (MKIAC) Milton Keynes Healthy Cook Off. She regularly features as a contributor and guest panellist on BBC Asian Network and BBC Three Counties Radio. Earlier this year she was presented the Asian Women of Achievement Award for Public Service.


SUFIYA AHMED Sufiya is the author of Secrets of the Henna Girl (Puffin Books) and is the recipient of the 2012 Brit Writers’ Awards’ Published Writer of the Year prize and Best Teenage Book at the Redbridge Children’s Book Award 2013. The novel has been shortlisted for the North East Teen Book Award and Rotherham Children’s Book Award, highly commended at the Sheffield Children’s Book Award and translated into Arabic, Spanish and Polish. She is the founder/director of the BIBI Foundation, a non-profit organisation which encourages the involvement of diverse and underprivileged children in the democratic process through visits to the Houses of Parliament. The fourth book in her Zahra series, Zahra’s Second Year at the Khadija Academy, was released in October 2013.

SUMA DIN Suma is the author of children’s educational titles, the latest of which is One Day – Around the World in 24 Hours and the popular women’s title Turning the Tide - Reawakening the Women’s Heart and Soul. Her children’s books focus on faith, global citizenship and human rights issues, and adult writing explores family and marriage issues for various publications. Suma teaches in the Adult Education sector in Buckinghamshire where she lives with her family. Locally she co-leads a girls’ youth group and is an active participant in interfaith programmes.

SUMAYYA LEE Sumayya was born in South Africa during the Apartheid era. Her debut, The Story of Maha was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Best First Book – Africa) and she has since published the sequel, Maha, Ever After. This year, she served as a Mentor for Writivism 2014 - a pan African literary event that is the brainchild of the Centre for African Cultural Excellence in Uganda – and edited the anthology of longlisted writers, Fire in the Night and Other Stories. She is currently editing her third novel while daydreaming about books four and five. Sumayya loves reading and eating (preferably on a Durban beach) and hates injustice, Islamophobia, misogyny and February in England.


Dear Young Writer © Suma Din Dear Young Writer, We haven’t been in touch for several moons now, so I thought I’ll write to you and then you’ll have no choice, no way of avoiding me. I’m as real as the words that flow out of your fingers. The last time we met you turned your back on me, shut me out, ran away. Remember? The day you wrote a scene for a play that had been on your mind for weeks. That day you finally locked yourself away and let it all spill out. Words, expressions, situations that lived in you while you ate, took the bus, did your homework, were now out there, taking shape through your fingers and alive in front of your eyes. And parts of it actually made you smile when you read it back. Just then your friend messaged you: ‘what are you up to?’ he asked as he usually does. Well that was it, the beginning of the end - as they say. When you told him what you were writing, his teases and snubs sent you recoiling back into yourself like a boomerang returning at twice the speed. Rather than letting me help you defend your spark of creation, and the elation you felt seeing it on paper, you succumbed to Embarrassment. If you had let me in for a moment, I would have reassured you that you had to carry on. Who else can write about what interests you? The answer: only you. Only you have your unique pair of eyes to drink in the world’s scenes, from your vantage point. Only you hear the world, from where you stand, on a frequency solely yours. Only you taste and smell the flavours of your gourmet daily life, which makes you, and only you, the best person to write what matters most to you. I would have helped you drown out the negative sounds and those nagging feelings that your work might not be good enough, smart enough, technical enough or original enough for the world. You fell when you took your first steps, but then you learnt to walk. In the beginning you scrawled illegible marks, but then you learnt to write. At first you sounded out letters and words that made no sense, but then you learnt to read. It was then that we were friends, I was with you each and every day. You never turned your back on me. Well, I’m here again now, and here to stay, to walk beside you. I’ll catch you. I’ll be there for the fourth draft, for the changes you make, for using the criticism positively, to make things better. Your friend always, Perseverance. x


The Writer Behind the Curtains © Hanzla MacDonald They drank sweet Moroccan tea until it was all gone. For the rest of the evening, the warm knowledge of what they had completed smouldered beneath their conversation; and so they remained in the restaurant past its closing time, content, unmovable. Before a beginning you need an end. Zalmay remembered those times his fountain pen would run out, mid–sentence, when he was writing at school. If he couldn’t find an ink cartridge, he would rub spittle into the nib and force out another half-a-sentence and an emphatic, epitaphic full stop. The face that shot out from behind the women’s curtains looked as round as a full-stop too, he thought. Miriam, who lived in another town, would have to wait to go home with her husband. By now, she was the only woman left in the whole restaurant, and, since this street was all restaurants and shops, she reasoned, the only woman left in the whole street. She took a quick peek outside. As expected, Muhammed Talal looked like the last man ready to give himself up to the forgetful night. Except perhaps for little Latif, their son, who was mouthing the words his father was saying like the ventriloquist’s dummy he had once seen at a birthday party. Miriam sighed and wondered what to do with the urn of Moroccan tea that was sat on her table: it was still half-full, by now it was half-cold. Gradually, Latif had whittled down his art to impossibilities. He was fitting the movements of his mouth to his father’s words – he wasn’t a second out, he wasn’t half-a-second out; in fact, he had achieved simultaneity. It was hard to look away from the boy: sentence after sentence, Latif was speaking his father. At Muhammed Talal’s age, a man started to take note of the effects of sugar in the blood - it took him from his mind a little, this is what they meant by a reverie, then. But now something had changed; his guests were hardly hearing a word he said, they’d snapped out of him. He looked at his son; six year-olds were typically skinny, but this one was a piece of paper. He and his wife were full dictionaries, in that sense.


Perhaps Latif took after the scribbler, Zalmay; he was a scrawny one, although only a very distant relation. One of the two had slipped in between Muhammed Talal and the attentions of his audience; they both had the bodies for it. He sent them away. Unshaven still, Zalmay was always the first casualty to baby-sitting duties and withdrew with the child behind a curtain. Latif was hyped on his mouthy success; he sat on the table’s glassed-over surface, and spun his body around and around with his feet. “What ya scribblin?” Latif had come to a stop where his toes hung just over the page on which Zalmay was writing; the white fabric of his overlong trousers connected him to that page, as though he had grown out of it. “I’m writing a story.” “I can tell stories, Zal!” Zalmay had heard Latif’s stories before: they were about dogs that you could ride like horses and underwater houses inhabited by witches and whales. Zalmay could entertain the little boy, he could ridicule him even, but his words would only wash through Latif’s concentration. In fact, no matter what Zalmay might say, Latif would reply, “You really think so?”, as though Zalmay had just told the story to him, rather than the other way round. Now, Latif was fixed on the escapades of another whale. He was becoming panicked by the turns in his own narrative, as though he was making a strange and terrible confession whose details were frightening to share, shameful to hear. The curtains were pulled back; one hand clutched at the back of Latif’s sherwani, another hooked round his stomach. Miriam had caught a last half-gasp of air in her son’s gut; Latif’s mouth threw out a high, pained sound, as though heralding a sublime passing or a sorrowful coming. She took him behind her curtain, where there was only a table, some chairs, and an urn of Moroccan tea, half-full, half-cold.


The Gaza Box © Nathalie Handal Poems from ‘The Gaza Box’

THE CHILD ANTHEM The children are not dead They are shadows in every tank They are echoes in every soldier The children are not dead They are in every house in the eyes of every father every mother in the soul of a people They are in every location in the heart— the children at the beach in the houses on the streets by their brothers and sisters are everywhere now The children are not dead They will move in the world without being stopped They will move They will move us all

IMAGINARY WORLD WITH TWELVE BIRDS There is moonlit in my box can you give it to me There are hours in my box can you give it to me There is a world in my box there are twelve birds in my box can I fly with them ummi ………………… There is a picture of my son in his box can I see it before the men arrive before the floor shakes before they take my heart tell them our souls will leave our torn bodies but we will never leave we will multiple in their souls


What do you mean, no phone?! © Jo Cotterill Mum has confiscated my phone for three days. She says it’s because I need to concentrate on my revision. I have screamed a LOT. And slammed several doors. And then got down on my knees and begged. And, OK, so I may actually have sneaked into her bedroom and rummaged through all her drawers in the hope of finding it – which I didn’t. Then I went to my room and sobbed. For a whole hour. My life is over. Totally, utterly over. She doesn’t get it. I know people survived before mobile phones and the internet, but they must have been really, really bored. I am bored. Also lonely. What use are my beautifully painted nails if I can’t share a photo of them with anyone? Who can I tell about the overcooked rice we had for dinner that was totally disgusting? I know what you’re thinking. Just use the laptop, right? I thought of that. Mum has switched off the wifi and changed the password. SHE IS EVIL. In the end, I ring Jazz from the landline. I don’t actually know her number, but I find it on an old party invitation, buried deep beneath my revision notes. ‘What?’ says Jazz, when I explain. ‘I mean, actually – WHAT?!’ ‘I know,’ I say. ‘Can you tell everyone? So they don’t think I hate them?’ She promises. So now I’m sitting at my desk, staring at my revision notes and wondering what everyone’s saying about me online. And missing my music because it’s all saved on my phone.


My eyes fall on my piano keyboard. Stuff the revision, I’m going to write a song. I used to write loads of stuff, but there hasn’t been as much time recently. It’s kind of nice playing around with chords again. It takes me a while to get a good tune together, but after that, the words fall easily into the lyrics. I write about my mother and how she doesn’t understand. How it’s all very well to say, ‘Back when I was a teenager’ but it’s THE MOST ANNOYING PHRASE IN THE WORLD when you actually ARE a teenager. Writing the song makes me happy. I even laugh at some of it. Then I look at the clock. Three hours have gone by. How did that happen? No, seriously – HOW? I’ve NEVER lost track of the time like that, except when I’m chatting online. I play my song through a few times until it’s perfect. Then I reach for my phone to record it and share it with my friends. It’s not there. Of course it isn’t. I’ve got a whole TWO MORE DAYS to get through without my beloved phone. I almost cry with frustration that I can’t share my song immediately. Then I yawn. It’s kind of late now. But I’ve had another thought. I want to add some strings to the song, and maybe a drum beat. Tomorrow I can do that. There’ll be HOURS to fill. I can make the song really good. I guess I might do a bit of revision too. Not to make Mum happy – because basically I hate her forever for taking away my phone – but because I guess I should. I can’t message my friends to say goodnight. Instead I pick up a book. But within minutes, my eyes are drooping. I don’t normally fall asleep this fast. Tomorrow, I’ll be a day closer to getting my phone back. And then…watch out, world! You won’t BELIEVE how much I’ve achieved in the meantime – and I’ll be able to share it all with you!


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Media - not a mad dream! by Shemiza Rashid Wow, it’s been five years since I made my debut on local community radio and what an awesome journey it has been! I would never have imagined what initially began as a fun four week radio opportunity would lead to producing and contributing to regional and national radio. If I rewind twenty years back, I distinctly remember panicking every time I was asked to deliver a public presentation as part of my Media Communication A-Level. I would suffer serious stage fright and break out in a cold sweat; turn a bright red orange colour that Dulux are yet to invent and freeze whenever the microphone or camera was switched on. It was swiftly concluded by my teacher that any dreams of working in the media were not going to happen with me, especially not radio! So I buried the vision until Luton Radio Ramadhan decided to launch full time and the founder of the newly named InspireFM invited me to launch a show. I panicked; radio and me? Seriously? What would I say? Would anyone listen? Should I go under an alias just in case it didn’t work out! Luckily, my passion and experience with Islamic inspired creativity through my network ‘The Creative Muslim Network ' was the perfect show genre. The Urban Kube show was born which I produce and present to celebrate Muslim inspired creativity. Over the years I've grown to learn that as daunting as it may seem, the media wall is not too high to jump over. The key is in building a portfolio of experiences, to network and to keep an ear and eye out for the latest updates in your genre of interest.


My top tips for making your mark in the media:

DECIDE WHAT INTERESTS YOU Find out what interests and excites you. Is it books, politics, gardening or something else? Look around and conduct research. Immerse yourself in your interests and find what you can cover. Network in these circles and join social media sites to keep your finger on the pulse.

VOLUNTEER Any media professional will tell you that you should never underestimate the value of voluntary work. Perhaps your school or community organisation has a newsletter or radio station. Contact them to find out who the studio manager is and email them to introduce yourself. Don't get upset if you don't hear from them straight away. Polite perseverance is key, so don’t be shy in sending them a gentle reminder. Every experience leads to another and you need to have a starting point, even if it’s answering calls to begin with and doing admin work.

PRACTISE Listen and observe your favourite television and radio presenters and take note of what they say, how they say it and their timing but remember it’s also important to be yourself. Record what you say and listen back. Practising is a good way to identify your tone of voice, pace and pitch. Practise before your family or even in a closet - just make sure you don't lock yourself in! If you don't want to be in front of the microphone or camera, producing and researching a show could be the role for you. Make a list of the topics you might introduce and pitch it to the show that you wish to volunteer at. In a few years if you wish to get a qualification and professional training, find out what courses are available at your local college and university. Find out whether the university has a radio station you can host. Making a career in the media requires a lot of commitment, energy and patience so don't assume that success will arrive overnight. Good luck and I look forward to listening to you!


SIMPLY WRITE! Advice for Young Writers by Sumayya Lee

Many people write for fun. So it is perfectly fine to write whenever you like and whatever you like: poems, songs, stories, or To-Do lists. If you are writing, then you MUST read. Everything. The wider the range, the better for you. And I don’t just mean all genres of fiction. Non-fiction is extremely useful for a writer – and if you find this boring, then start with subjects that interest you. Even textbooks count. The advice I wish someone had given me when, many moons ago I was a teenager dreaming of being a writer; is that if you want to be a writer, then you MUST write – every single day. It doesn’t matter what this entails – even if you’re just writing about your day, the weather, your lunch - it is all writing. So is scribbling five lines about an idea for a story or writing a complete story or poem. The key is to remember that you can never create something perfect in one go. You should view all such writing as drafts, works in progress. This is the reality of being a writer - the perfect idea in your head does not appear perfectly formed on the page. Which is why we stockpile erasers and computers come with the delete button. Like any person who wants to improve – a runner, a pianist – daily practice (and do please dwell on the word practice!) is a no-brainer. If you have no idea how or where to start, a good activity is to choose a random word from the dictionary – set your timer for 15 minutes and once the clock starts ticking, start writing.


Do not lift your pen or pencil off the page. Do not go back and read the last sentence. Simply write. Even if it is absolute nonsense. Or pure drivel. This is writing practice. When the alarm rings, stop. If you feel like, read it – otherwise, put it away for later examination. Even the worst writing often contains a tiny gem that can be cut and polished into a sparkling story. Sometimes we write because we have an idea. Sometimes we have too many ideas – and if that is normal with you, it may be a good idea to have a special Ideas Notebook, or Ideas Box – where you simply write your ideas and store them for future writing practice. If you are able to walk to school, do so – walking allows our thoughts to settle down and make necessary connections. It seems that while the body is busy doing something repetitive, the mind is free to file, sort and play with ideas. Charles Dickens spent most nights walking the streets of London – mainly because he was an insomniac, but it certainly helped his writing. Or alternately, you could offer to do the dishes. Agatha Christie said the best time to plan a book is while you’re doing the dishes - and she wrote more than 80 books. It is important for writers to be observant and to make time for other art forms – both natural and man-made. Visit parks, galleries and museums. Take time to stop and stare at beautiful and unusual paintings and sunsets. The more you feed the writer, the more the writer can write.

And above all – just like sportspersons and musicians – writers write because they love writing. Very few can actually live off writerly earnings, so if you’re thinking career paths and subject choices, you may want to consider a career that involves creativity, or perhaps one that allows enough free time to pursue your passion for writing.


A Ballad to Balance © Tommy Evans Let me clear my throat So you can hear my quotes I steer this boat Between tears and jokes Fear and hope Awe and love Hawk and dove Between two wings I’m all the above Man in the middle Physical spiritual Orthodox liberal Each term is applicable Signal oscillates from analogue to digital Twelve mega pixel crystal clear visuals Displaying shades of grey Between black and white I’m straddling satisfied and sacrifice Acting right to actualise my afterlife Plus here and now Hear me out Pass the mic Please do not butt in Or push the off button This world’s cruel A whirlpool I got sucked in But found safe passage through rapids Some run aground Thunderclouds rain pouring Brainstorming I wonder how To bridge the gap Between old school and younger crowds Highbrow and dumbing down Mainstream and underground Treading water and sinking Forward-thinking Swimming against the tide The waves are high Let that thought sink in Plagues inside my heart Dark forces within him


Fame fortune and women Causes or symptoms What’s important this innings Is scoring a win-win Lord forgive him Open the doors to Your Kingdom The bondsmen born free Half humble half haughty Quietly confident Conquer them flaws in me The zeal of youth Meets the wisdom of maturity Caught between risk taking and acting cautiously So I act accordingly As I walk on these hot coals Pursuing the course ‘Till it forks at the crossroads Will he be soaring Or fallen a lost soul Pray to my Lord that it’s not so ‘Cause I adore The Apostle The metaphor for mi amore is a knot sewn In the rope that I hold to Tight with my molars My vida loca quite the adventure And I’m right in the centre Between scrooge and big spender Student and mentor Did I mention I’m tender Meets hot-tempered Tendons tensed up Tiptoeing tentatively this tight rope Hope it don’t tremor Point break Barefooted surfing the razor’s edge Raise my head above the maze’s hedge The way ahead’s gridlocked Traffic lights change to red No short cut from A to Z Maintain a steady pace instead This is my ballad to balance


trip-trap © Katherine Langrish Mahmoud came slowly around the corner by the betting shop and pressed himself into the doorway. He peered. Yes, there they were, three big Year Ten boys lounging about on the railway bridge, waiting to catch him. Yesterday they’d hauled him up on the parapet and threatened to push him over on to the tracks. His school blazer was torn at the armpit where he’d wrenched himself free. His older brother Tariq, and Tariq’s friend Crystal, holding her big Alsatian dog Sheba on a tight leash, squashed themselves into the doorway beside him. ‘Are they there?’ Crystal whispered. ‘Yes, all of them. ‘Basher’ Johnson and his mate Greg. And the skinhead with the swastika tattoo.’

‘Okay,’ said Tariq grandly. ‘We take back the bridge from these trolls! Operation Billy-Goat starts now’– he glanced at his watch –‘at sixteen-oh-five hours, according to plan. You ready for this, Mahmoud?’ ‘Off you go,’ said Crystal, giving him a pat on the shoulder. ‘Don’t you worry ‘bout a thing, we are right here for you.’ Mahmoud gulped, hitched his bag, and walked out. The boys on the bridge pretended not to notice him till he got close. They were busy shoving each other into the road. Then Basher turned around. ‘Hey, look who it is.’ He spat. ‘Where d’you think you’re going?’


‘Home,’ said Mahmoud, as other pedestrians scurried past without making eye-contact. ‘Yeah? Go home some other way. This is our bridge and you ain’t crossing it.’ ‘There isn’t another way,’ Mahmoud objected. ‘So don’t go home. What do I care?’ Basher grinned. ‘Leave me alone!’ Mahmoud raised his voice. ‘Pick on someone your own size.’ He looked over his shoulder and pointed. ‘Someone like him!’ The gang stared like dogs who have seen a cat. Tariq came strolling up the bridge, tall and slim, his new white cricket sweater almost dazzling in the sunshine. They forgot about Mahmoud, who scooted to the far side to watch from a safe distance. Basher moved into Tariq’s way, flanked by Greg and the skinhead. They stood right across the pavement. ‘You going home too?’ jeered Basher. ‘I’m going for a walk,’ Tariq answered calmly. ‘Yeah? Go somewhere else, if you know what’s good for you. Somewhere… healthy.’ Tariq stuck two fingers in his mouth and whistled, loud and shrill. Down by the betting shop, Crystal loosed Sheba. ‘Go get ‘em, girl!’ With a shattering bark the big dog leaped up the bridge to Tariq, who caught her collar. ‘I’m going for a walk with this dog,’ he said between his teeth, while Sheba throbbed and growled like a diesel engine. The gang melted out of the way, and Tariq walked blithely past to join Chester. ‘You couldn’t even frighten a girl,’ he called as he went. ‘Try her!’ The gang licked their lips. Here came Crystal with her lithe, dancing step. The skinhead spread his arms in a mocking, threatening embrace. Crystal did not stop. Her hair was a thundercloud, her smile white lightning; as he grabbed for her she suddenly bent and straightened. The skinhead went flying over her shoulder and oomph on to the pavement. A car went past, honking. Mahmoud and Tariq cheered. ‘You ask your friends ‘bout me,’ said Crystal to Basher, dusting off her hands. ‘The ones that go to the judo club. And don’t you give my friends any more hassle.’ And they never did.


A word from Islam Channel

The Young Muslim Writers Awards promote positive social change, and encourages the creativity of our communities youth. The initiative also inspires a commonality within society regardless of race or faith. Islam Channel is recognised as the most popular ethnic channel watched in the UK. As a leader and pioneer in Muslim media, it is with pride and excitement that we support an event that contributes to the advancement of Muslims in the UK. The Muslim Writer’s Awards have witnessed a tremendous development in the past few years; we hope this momentum continues in the years to come. “After supporting the Muslim Writers Awards for 8 years in the capacity of a Media Partner, we are pleased to join forces with the MWA team once again, in support of the Young Muslim Writers Awards 2014.”

“After supporting the Muslim Writers Awards for 8 years in the capacity of a Media Partner, we are pleased to join forces with the MWA team once again, in support of the Young Muslim Writers Awards 2014.”

Mohamed Ali Chief Executive Officer Islam Channel


train journey © Rosemary Hayes Aisha leant over the basin in the cramped toilet, her body swaying with the movement of the train, one elbow pressed down on the tap to keep the water flowing as she splashed her face and neck with her free hand. Once, twice, three times. She looked down at her feet. No way! She’d need to be a yoga freak to put her feet into the tiny basin and keep the water running. Doing wudhu in a train toilet. Her mother would be horrified. Stop it. Don’t think of her. She thought again of Emma’s words. ‘You’re not doing anything wrong. None of this is your fault.’ Her hands trembled as she started to remove her hijab. First the hijab, then the salwaar kameez. She put them gently on the floor while she opened her backpack and pulled out a pair of jeans and a T-shirt, banging herself against the unyielding wall as she put them on. She straightened up and took some long slow breaths. You’ve made your decision. ‘Stay strong, babe.’ Emma’s words. The last words she’d said to her as they’d stood together on the platform, Aisha sobbing, Emma holding her tightly. ‘Stay strong, babe.’ I’m trying to, Em. She blanked her mind, concentrating only on the rhythm of the train as it sped on relentlessly, away from her family and friends. To what? Someone was banging on the door of the toilet. Aisha jumped.


Calm down. It can’t be him. Quickly, she stuffed her old clothes – her old life – into her backpack and opened the door. The woman outside frowned at her and muttered ‘You took your time’ as she barged past her. Aisha gripped the straps of her backpack and flattened herself out of the woman’s way. Will she remember seeing me? Don’t be paranoid. You’re an ordinary girl in normal gear. Unmemorable. No one will give you a second glance. She walked slowly back to her seat, slumped down and took her phone from her backpack. She cradled it in her hand for a moment. They’d be looking for her now, worrying, there were sure to be messages. But she’d promised Emma. ‘Keep your phone off until you arrive. Then you can let them know you’re safe.’ She slipped the phone into the pocket of her jeans. The city outskirts had disappeared and as Aisha stared out of the window she saw fields of wheat flash past, on the turn now, changing from green to yellow, and villages in the distance, with groups of houses clustered round a central church spire. How different the countryside was here. So lush and gentle compared with the harsh light, the dust, the noise of her village in Pakistan with its magnificent backdrop of mountains. She closed her eyes. She was only eight when they’d left the village but the images were still vivid. Splashing in the irrigation channels in the summer heat, laughing as the water poured down her body, cooling her, cleaning her; running after her brothers, dodging carts pulled by buffaloes, down the tracks through the orchards and out to the fields. The acrid smell of wood smoke coming from the fires, the warm pungent smell of the buffaloes, the fruit ripening on the trees and the sticky sweetness of sugarcane. There’d been comfort in the rhythm of the seasons, security from the extended family, the laughter, the chattering of the aunties and cousins, the gossip, the skills passed down from mother to daughter. Mother to daughter. I never meant to hurt you, Ammi.


...... Emma’s voice again. ‘So your father finds a suitable boy for you? That’s gross!’ ‘It is not! It makes perfect sense. He’ll find me a boy from the same background.’ ‘What if you don’t fancy him?’ ‘Marriage isn’t only about fancying someone.’ ‘It isn’t?’ ‘Of course not. If you’re going to live with someone for the rest of your life, you need to have plenty in common.’ ‘God Aisha, you sound like my nan!’ ‘Why do you keep saying God if you don’t believe in Him.’ ‘Dunno.’ Aisha had rolled her eyes. ‘Well, I think your way of choosing a husband is too risky. And your marriages often don’t last.’ ‘Like my mum and dad?’ ‘Sorry, I didn’t mean...’ ‘Doesn’t matter.’ They’d been silent for a moment, then Emma had said. ‘Seriously, though, what happens if you don’t like the guy your dad finds for you? He can’t make you marry him can he?’ ‘No, of course not. My dad would never do that. He’d never try and force me to marry someone I didn’t like.’ She’d been so sure then. ...... How will this journey end? No one could tell her that. Not even Emma. You only see solutions, Em, a right way, a wrong way, black or white. What about all the mess in between?


“Creativity is found at the fringes of society, born of necessity, fuelled by intensity."

Poetry is simply a vessel for words which are the abstract concepts that define our everyday lives past, present and future. A poet’s job is to amplify the often unheard voices, the fragile, the overspoken and the talked about. For me, supporting young writers is enabling the words of the future, empowering the voices of tomorrow, hoping that they do better than we did with today.

Dreadlockalien


Messages from Publishers “Congratulations to all the brilliant writers. We are very passionate about academic excellence amongst young people and we are proud to see such inspiring talent, focused dedication and a demonstration of tremendous skill. Writing can be your best friend, your biggest challenge, and your most enjoyable pastime - sometimes all at once. It is so wonderful to explore faraway worlds and unchartered territories with only a notebook and pen. Never stop writing, you are all amazing!” Amazing Magazine

“Barefoot Books would like to congratulate all the children that have taken part in the Young Muslim Writers Awards 2014. We hope you have all enjoyed taking part and writing your fabulous entries!” Barefoot Books

“All of us at Brown Watson, would like to congratulate the winners and shortlisted writers of the competition. We hope you enjoy your goody bags!” Brown Watson


“Congratulations to all the writers of this year’s Young Muslim Writers Awards. Fine Feather Press is a keen supporter of all young writers. We know that getting your voice heard isn’t always easy, but we hope that the award inspires you to keep developing your talents.” Fine Feather Press

“Kube Publishing would like to congratulate all of the winners and the participants of the wonderful Young Muslim Writers Awards. Your stories are important and there is nobody better to share them with the world than YOU!” Kube Publishing

“Congratulations! MashAllah, you have done extremely well and you should be very proud of yourself! The whole team at Little Explorers is very proud of you! Keep up the efforts and know that you have a bright future ahead of yourselves inshAllah!” Little Explorers

“Little Tiger Press would like to congratulate all those involved in the Young Muslim Writers Awards. We are honoured to be a part of such an amazing project and hope that you will all continue to pursue your writing talents! Once again, congratulations to everyone!” Little Tiger Press


“Congratulations to all who took part in the Young Muslim Writers Awards. We hope you all continue to love and enjoy reading and writing stories yourself. Best wishes, Orion Children’s Books” Orion Children’s Books

“At Top That Publishing we design, write and illustrate books to promote child development, enrich relationships, and foster creativity and imagination. This year, it is so pleasing to see the shortlist of talented young Muslim writers, whose creative poetry and short stories achieve this very same feat. Well done to everyone on the shortlist – you are all winners!” Top That Publishing

“Usborne Publishing congratulates all the young writers who have taken part in this project. Keep writing!” Usborne Publishing


messages of congratulations “Congratulations to all the entrants for producing incredible work of such a high standard and especially to the winners - truly well deserved! Writing is such a joyous and rewarding activity, and I feel strongly that children of all ages should be encouraged to write every day and use their imagination to take us places we have never been before. Every one of us has a story to tell - the key is writing only the story you can write, believing in your own voice and not being afraid to let your imagination go wild!” ALLAN PLENDERLEITH

Scriptwriter for children’s television, children’s author, illustrator, app developer and award-winning director.

“I would like to congratulate all shortlisted writers at this year’s Young Muslim Writers Awards. As a boxer I am regularly in contact with journalists and writers and I admire the work that they do and the way they are able to tell the story of my fights in such a descriptive way. To do that undoubtedly takes talent and I would encourage anyone who has a passion for writing to pursue it. The pen is so strong and has so much worldwide influence, so work hard and never give up. Congratulations!” AMIR KHAN

Former Unified Light Welterweight Champion of the World

"I can't think of anything more precious or pleasurable than the ability to write creatively. My warmest congratulations to you for receiving this award for your story. I'm sure it will encourage you to work hard to achieve great things in the future." IAN WHYBROW

Multi-award winning children’s author of Harry and His Bucket Full of Dinosaurs series and others


“It’s heart-warming that so many of you have entered stories for these awards and congratulations to you all. Writing is a wonderful way of getting your thoughts in order, improving your descriptive skills and developing your imagination. I’ve been making up my own stories since I was six. I wonder how many of you will grow up to be professional writers too? I hope you all had great fun writing your stories.” DAME JACQUELINE WILSON DBE

Children’s Laureate 2005-2007 and multi-award winning children’s author of The Story of Tracy Beaker, The Suitcase Kid, the Hetty Feather series and others

“Keep writing - and believe in the power of your voices and stories!” JODI PICOULT

Multi-award winning author of My Sister’s Keeper, Nineteen Minutes, The Pact and others

“Congratulations to all the shortlisted Young Muslim Writers Awards nominees: and good luck in the final round!” JON SNOW

Multi-award winning journalist and news anchor of Channel 4 News

“Writing is a way to express the things you believe; without control or censure from others. Yes, it is a joy and a challenge, but it also opens the world up for you, it takes you places. It gives you power.” MARCUS SEDGWICK

Multi-award winning author of My Swordhand is Singing, Cudweed’s Birthday, Cowards and others


“Congratulations to all the Young Muslim Writers Awards 2014 finalists. This is an excellent and much needed venture encouraging our youth in revealing their great depth of creativity and skills they have to offer our society. This is a great platform, one that provides young writers with the opportunity to excel beyond their imagination and abilities. Our Islamic history consists of many world famous poets and writers, it is commendable that the Young Muslim Writers Awards is helping to revive, cultivate and celebrate what has always been a proud component of Muslim culture and heritage.” MOHAMED ALI HARRATH

Chief Executive Officer, Islam Channel

“Congratulations to all the writers who have been shortlisted for the Young Muslim Writers Award. This is a wonderful achievement and you should all be very proud of yourselves. The craft of storytelling is a fundamental part of our lives and you are the people who will carry it forward into the future. Keep writing, keep reading and always, keep dreaming.” PAT WALSH

Children’s author of The Crowfield Curse, The Crowfield Demon and The Hob and the Deerman

“I feel the Young Muslim Writers Awards is such an important organisation to support. It allows us to recognise today’s shooting stars and celebrate their talent with the rest of the community. Children are our future and it’s important to nurture them in the best way we can. Congratulations to all the winners!” SAIF ADAM

Recording artist and songwriter with debut album, Heart, out now


“Dear Writers: I am writing to congratulate you today for being a winner in the Young Muslim Writers Awards. You must be proud of your accomplishment, and I am so happy to congratulate you for your hard work. I started writing when I was nine. I guess I was a weird kid. I found an old typewriter and dragged it to my room. And I started to write stories, and joke books, and comic books. I’d spend hour after hour in my room. I don’t know why I enjoyed writing so much, but I did. My mother didn’t understand it at all. She stood outside my door and said, “Stop typing. Go outside and play.” And I’d say, “It’s BORING out there.” And I’d just keep typing. Now I’m still typing. I’ve written 300 books and I still enjoy it. I hope you enjoyed working on your writing, too. And I hope you will keep at it. The only way to be a better writer is to KEEP WRITING. Congratulations to you all!” R.L. STINE

Producer and multi-award winning author of the Goosebumps collection, the Fear Street series and others

"Heartfelt congratulations to the writers of the Young Muslim Writers Awards - we discover ourselves and others through writing, and it is wonderful to know that your diverse and individual voices will be represented in the fiction of the future. I hope that together you will help build a truly representative literary landscape for your generation, and the generations to come. Please keep writing, discover your voice and share it with the world." ROOPA FAROOKI

Lecturer in Creative Writing, University of Oxford and award-winning author of Corner Shop, Half Life, The Flying


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Young Muslim Writers Awards 2014 Magazine  

The 2014 awards ceremony of the Young Muslim Writers Awards was held on 18th October at Senate House, London. Richard Grant (poet Dreadlocka...