It’s our pleasure today to bring to you an interesting interview with the first of our very generous sponsors for the 1st Annual Summer Islamic Reading Challenge. Linda D. Delgado is a Muslim publisher, author, founder of Islamic Writers Alliance, blogger, mother, grandmother and outspoken advocate of Islamic fiction authors and books. She shares how she embraced Islam and the Islamic writing industry, and adds some wonderful inspiration for any aspiring Muslim author, publisher, or writer. Most importantly, she loves literary and promotes blending the joy of reading with our devotion to serve Allah (May He be Glorified). We can read and learn more about our deen (way of life and religion) in a fun and interesting way through Islamic fiction books.
Please welcome Linda D. Delgado, also known as, Sister Widad.
Q. How did you first find American Muslim Mom?
A. Sister Freda Crane, a member of Islamic Writers Alliance (IWA), posted your announcement about the 1st Annual Summer Islamic Reading Challenge in the Islamic Writers Alliance (IWA) organization’s business egroup. When I visited the Summer Islamic Reading Program website to learn about the contest and program, I offered to be a sponsor.
Q. Why did you want to sponsor this Summer Islamic Reading Program?
In 2000 I began writing my award-winning Islamic Rose Books series for Muslim youth. At that time I did not know that very few Muslim publishers published English language Islamic fiction books for youth, teens, and adults. I also did not know that Muslim bookstore retailers wouldn’t stock and sell Islamic fiction books. And, surprisngly, I did not know that all the Islamic schools in the USA sponsored and sold Scholastic books at their annual and semi-annual book fairs while rejecting Muslim authored/Islamic fiction books for the book fairs. I quickly learned that most Islamic schools in the USA did not have Islamic fiction books in their school libraries and most only listed secular fiction books on their recommended book reading lists. In the process, I soon found out that most Muslim publishers only published fiction books for very young readers: color illustrated books with limited text-early reader books.
From 2000 until the present I wrote more books, learned how to become a publisher and created my own publishing business with the focus on publish Islamic fiction books written by other Muslim authors for Muslim kids. During the past 5 years I have given free book awards annually to 13 Islamic schools so that these school libraries would have Islamic fiction books for Muslim students of all ages to read. I have sponsored a dozen creative Islamic fiction writing contests. And, just recently I finished a two year project to develop, design, and publish teacher study guides for 6 Islamic fiction books I have published.
I created a web site, Islamic Fiction (IF) Books where I list all the Muslim authors and their IF books that I learn about so Muslims can easily find a quality and halal IF books for Muslim children/youth/teens.
Five + years ago I created and founded a professional Muslim organization for writers, retailers, publishers, journalists, artists, designers, and poets etc. to network and support each other. The goal of this organization is to promote literature and specifically Islamic fiction books.
I have tried to reach home schooling parents, Islamic school teachers, Muslim retailers and publishers and Muslim educators over the past 9 years with little success or interest shown by them in supporting the need for Islamic fiction books for Muslim youth-teens.
Two years ago I tried to join a home schooling parent-teachers organization to talk about Islamic fiction books and teacher study guides for them. I was not permitted membership because I was not a certified teacher and I was not the parent of a Muslim child in a home schooling program. I gave myself an E+ for my effort.
Then I went to the Summer Islamic Reading Program web site and saw where literacy was being promoted to children, youth and teens and more specifically Islamic book reading.
I felt an immediate desire… almost as if I felt a physical push to offer free books as prizes to children participating in the reading program. I was amazed and extremely happy to have found out about this program because for 9 years everything I have been doing in His service to publish and make available quality and halal IF books for Muslim kids of all ages to read. This was just too good an opportunity to get good books to kids to pass up!
Q. Please tell our audience a little about yourself and your businesses.
A. I am disabled and cannot do many physical things. Before I became disabled I loved to bowl, play softball, swim (we have a swimming pool in the back yard) and tend to my flower garden. I used to do a lot of crafts as a fun way to make products to sell at Muslim bazaars. Now I spend a lot of time writing articles, short stories, manuscripts for book publishing, and once in a while I write poetry. I won the adult first place category in the Praise the Prophet (peace & blessing be upon him) Contest a couple years ago for my poem, My Hero Is Your Hero, much to my surprise.
I graduated from the University of Phoenix with a BA degree in Business Management and spent 26 years working as a professional law enforcement officer for 2 police agencies. I retired as an Arizona DPS Sergeant in 2000.
I am the owner and Publisher of Muslim Writers Publishing. I primarily focus on publishing English language fiction stories written by Muslim writers for older youth, teens and young adults that is defined as Islamic fiction. I do this because there aren’t near enough books published for our Muslim youth-teens.
Writing and publishing Islamic fiction is a challenge. A writer must consider carefully the many problems which will be faced when choosing to write and seek publishing for Islamic fiction. The writer’s intentions when creating the story and book characters is to have the reader learn something about Islam in a non-preachy way by showing and not telling. The stories need to be imaginative, creative and contain only halal content.
It would be much easier to write a nice halal fiction story and not be considered about including Islam in the story. Easier meaning many non-Muslim publishers would possibly be interested in publishing this kind of fiction book. There are many more non-Muslim publishers than Muslim publishers and as most Muslim publishers don’t publish “fiction” stories for older youth, teens, and adults, it makes finding a publisher more difficult if you choose to write Islamic fiction.
I remain steadfast in my belief that in time, Muslim parents and readers of all ages will appreciate Islamic fiction books and will be more supportive of the writers of IF. Until then I continue writing and publishing IF.
Q. What do you prefer more: being an Islamic fiction author or publisher? And, why?
A. When I am working on an article, short story, poem, or book manuscript I prefer being a writer. When I am working as a publisher of my own work and that of other Muslim authors I prefer being a Muslim traditional publisher.
The work and rewards, trials, challenges, and fun are very different between an author/writer and a publisher and can not be compared as the responsibilities differ greatly. I simply cannot choose between the two.
Q. What’s your most favorite thing to do as an Islamic fiction author/publisher (whichever one you prefer being, of course)?
A. As a writer it is holding my published book in my hands for the first time-that first book from the printing company and thanking Allah for His help and guidance in making the book possible.
As a publisher it is contacting the Muslim author to let him or her know that the book is now published and released for sale. It is helping them realize their hopes and dreams that brings me a great deal of personal satisfaction. It is knowing that there is one more book for Muslim kids to read that fills me with joy and thankfulness to Allah.
Q. How many children and/or grandchildren do you have? What are their ages and gender?
A. I have eight grandchildren: 3 boys and 5 girls and 1 great grandchild, a girl age 2 years and my eldest granddaughter is expecting a second child (my second great grandchild) in 5 months. My eldest granddaughter is 24 years old. The youngest is 13 years old. I have two grandsons serving in the USA military and one grandson in the 11th grade in high school. One granddaughter, age 17 years has lived in my home most of her life.
I am the only Muslim in my family. None of my children or grandchildren or great grandchildren are Muslim. I consider all Muslim children, my children, and I write books, publish them, and publish other Muslim writers for Muslim children, youth, and teens.
Q. Have you been a Muslim all your life? If not, please share briefly when, where and how you made your shahadah.
A. I reverted to Islam over 9 years ago when I was 52 years old. At that time, two Saudi Arabian police officers were living in my home as guests. They came to the USA to learn English from our State University and to study police tactics with the city police department. When they first came to the USA I was working as a State police officer. I like to tell everyone that Allah sent these two officers to my home so I would learn about Islam from their example. I had never held a conversation with a Muslim prior to coming to know the two officers. A couple of weeks before the two officers (Fahd and Abdul) returned home I surprised them by preparing a very special dinner and afterwards I put on an abeya and hijab scarf and asked the officers to help me say the shahadah in Arabic. Both of my boys (I cam to regard them as foster sons) did so with tears streaming from their eyes. Later they told me that I was the very first person they had ever given daw’ah and helped to see the truth of Islam.
[Ponn Sabra: MashaAllah, God has willed!]
Q. Do you love hijab?
A. I believe the most important thing to know about hijab is the “inner” hijab… or sense of modesty…which is essential to all Muslims, male and female. Without the inner hijab, the outer clothing and/or manner of dress are meaningless.
[Ponn Sabra: I wholeheartedly agree.]
Q. Please share some other fun facts that you always wanted to divulge in an interview, but no one ever gave you the opportunity to before.
A. When I was a child and before my teen years I wanted to be an opera singer and star in the Metropolitan Opera television show (no longer exists). My siblings used to cover their ears when I would sing at the top of my lung power. When I joined the school choir I was dismissed within a week because I was told I was a monotone. I never change the pitch or sound of the words I sing. J Then I wanted to be a librarian because I loved to read and began reading at a very young age, before starting school. Next I decided that if I were a bookstore owner that would be even better. But instead as I became an adult I first became a wife and mother and then trained and became a police officer for 26 years. It wasn’t until I reverted to Islam and within 6 months started my long and painful road to becoming disabled that I came full circle back to books! Now I am a writer, and award winning author and poet, a book publisher and I now have my own book retail store. J
[Ponn: MashaAllah, God has willed].
Q. Last, please share any and all advise you have for our beloved Muslim youth growing up here in America regarding loving our Qur’an, living the life according to Sunnah, and learning & embracing Islam by gaining knowledge through Reading.
A. I think reading stories about the Prophet (peace & blessing be upon him) is very important because you can use his examples of problem solving and apply them to the challenges and problems you will encounter as a Muslim living as a minority in a larger secular society. My favorite story is how he solved the problem of how to put the black stone back in the Kabal. The workers were ready to fight over the privilege but the Prophet (peace & blessing be upon him) as “peacemaker” provided a peaceful solution. In all things the Prophet (peace & blessing be upon him) said and did he applied the rule of moderation. When you are faced with trying to decide if what you read or have been told is g halal or harm…first think about whether the “something” is moderate. If it is extreme in some manner then re-examine or ask for/seek more help before deciding. Islam can be applied to everything in your life: at home, during school, with family and friends because Islam is relevant …meaningful.
I also think that we must be mindful that Allah created all nations and tribes and we need to learn about the history of all peoples, yes, people who have different beliefs, look different, talk different and may even act different. This is the diversity that Allah created and if we do not learn about people and the past, we will have a great deal of difficulty in understanding the world as it is today and may repeat the same mistakes made in the past.
If you think of yourself as different, or others have told you that you are different, do not feel sad or upset. Make what it is that is different about you a strength and not a weakness.
Reading creative, halal, and fun Islamic fiction books with Muslim book characters and challenges similar to your own and with story settings which reflect your own environment can help you relate to your world and can offer you halal examples of meeting the challenges you face in your life. Qur’an is always the first and the best resource but you need to be careful not to take the content out of context as they might distort what Allah meant for you to know and understand. Seeking the advice of a more knowledgeable Muslim and asking questions and doing research is the road to a clearer and correct understanding.
We hope this first interview of our Summer Islamic Reading Challenge Sponsors inspires you to read Islamic books this summer, and encourage others to do the same in the name of Allah (May He be Glorified).
Linda and I are available for questions and concerns. Please share your thoughts and opinions in the comments area below.
© 2009 Linda D. Delgado All answers to the interview questions are copyright owned by the author.
More about Linda D. Delgado: Known by her Muslim friends as Widad, is a mother, grandmother, and great grandmother. She graduated from the University of Phoenix and is a retired Arizona DPS Sergeant. Linda is the author of the award winning children’s book series, Islamic Rose Books, co-authored Grandma & Hijab Family Activity Book, and authored two non fiction books: Halal Food, Fun and Laughter and A Muslim’s Guide to Publishing and Marketing. Linda is also the creator of the Grandma & Hijab-Ez comic strip series and the owner-publisher of Muslim Writers Publishing: a traditional Muslim publishing house. Email at: publisher@MuslimWritersPublishing.com
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