WHAT DROVE ME TO WRITE by Nur Khairiah @Umm Iman

by Blessed Ummi

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Introducing Blessed Ummi’s latest blog series, “Ummis’ Voices”, a new initiative for mothers within our community a space to share their passions or their deepest thoughts and reflections. We will feature a variety of topics, ideas and themes relevant to mothers. For our second guest blogger post, we are extremely grateful to invite local author Nur Khairiah, a mother of three, to tell us what drove her to become a children’s book writer and a novelist. 

Writing and reading are intimately connected: a platform of sharing and bridging a writer’s work with others. Suffice to say, the Qur’an is a beautiful example of writing and reading as interdependent pairs containing Guidance and Light for the entire humanity – from the words of the Creator, to the meticulous compilation process and finally, recitation of the Qur’an by the Ummah.

I was a passionate reader since young, thanks to my parents who instilled the love of reading in me. I grew up with Enid Blyton’s books and enjoyed her fictional characters. I remembered as a primary school girl, I told myself, “Wow, her stories make me happy! Maybe one day, I can be like her and make others happy too!”

Umm Iman at work. Credits: Umm Iman

Umm Iman at work. Credits: Umm Iman

Having children of my own, I acknowledge reading as an integral part of their lives in learning. I wanted them to be amazed by the power of wordless pictures and narratives that let one’s imagination run wild. After all, reading starts early. Isn’t an expectant mum encouraged to recite the Qur’an to her unborn baby?

When I took my no-pay leave after the birth of my third son in 2012, I had a heap of creative ideas in my wishlist to keep me sane but I wasn’t as productive as I had hoped for. Mothers know that caring for the child is no easy feat; whether you are a working mum or a SAHM, the exigent demands – running errands, attending classes, laundry, cooking and whatnots – eat up every single minute of your day.

Umm Iman imbibes the love for reading in her children through books and storytelling. Credits: Umm Iman

Umm Iman imbibes the love for reading in her children through books and storytelling. Credits: Umm Iman

The Divine guidance was also the first reason that strengthened my decision to embark on this writing journey. The word Iqra’, kept lingering at the back of my mind as I went through my daily routine as a mum. The first verses revealed to our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) from Surah al-Alaq quietly urged me to take the plunge to write. I started out idea-dumping anything that came to mind – jotting down on paper, notebook or on the phone.

As an avid reader of Habiburrahman El-Shirazy’s works and similar authors like Zaid Akhtar and A.Ubaidillah Alias, I became more serious and drafted an Islamic novel, in between my day-to-day responsibilities, hoping to get it published one day.

However, while searching for an ultimate push to do something beneficial that my children and I can enjoy, an opportunity came to publish a book; a collaboration with Hayyan.SG, an online business that provides Islamic value-added products to Muslim families. Perhaps, this was the answer. I was motivated to write a children’s picture book for them with my children as my inspiration and to inculcate the beauty of reading for other young Muslim hearts. Along the way, I had other writing opportunities, wearing another hat as a novelist for a Malaysian publisher. I was inspired again to write for them because of the main two principles that they hold and which I like – Syariah compliant and the usage of standard form of Malay language.

Umm Iman’s repertoire of books, made for varying audiences from children to young adults. Credits: Umm Iman

I’ve never attended any formal writing workshops. My previous dealings with young students as an educator and an avid blogger in the past veered me towards this direction. Remembering this journey, little did I know, that one spark in my head and dream of a child would be a reality. Alhamdulillah. It was a huge step for me accompanied by lots of prayers and tawakkal.

Each genre that you write has its own challenges and requires different sets of writing processes. I will share with you some tips on how you can write a children’s book while parenting in my next post. Insya Allah.

About the Author:

Nur Khairiah is a mother of three, an educator and also an award-winning blogger. Also a talented freelance graphic designer and a self-taught illustrator, she has authored two children’s Islamic picture books, an anthology of illustrated stories and a Malay novel for young adults. Her current projects include writing and illustrating books for young readers and adults in English and Malay. She hopes to inspire others and spread the love for the Deen though her creative writings.

Follow her on Instagram @ummimanwrites and Facebook page. You can also read about her books and her thoughts on her blog here.

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