by Haris Yar Khan- Jalya Writer
Aimen is a writer and published her first book last year titled “In Search of Peace.” She has completed various certificates to increase her knowledge/experience in the field of childcare and education. Aimen has also worked as a substitute educational assistant with youth aged 3-12. She is starting her post-secondary education in the fall and is greatly interested in postsecondary research in many different fields. Her dream is to write and publish more books and to become a teacher like her mother one day.
What makes you passionate about writing?
My mother has a master’s degree in literature and works as an English teacher, so I have had the fortune of being raised with a love for reading and writing. When I was a baby, I lived steps away from the local library, and my mother would take me there every single day. Those frequent library trips led to me finishing the entire children’s section by the time I was two years old, and after moving to another city with another library, I finished their children’s section by age four. My love of books only grew stronger as I moved into chapter books, but no matter how many books I read at that age, I could never find a story with someone like me. Why weren’t there any Muslims or South Asians in the books I read?
Alhamdulillah, writers from various backgrounds across the world have been working very hard to fill that gap, and diverse literature has become much more prominent and accessible within the last five years. There is still a lot of work to be done, though, and I would like to support this cause by sharing my story through poetry and books. I have been writing poetry since I was ten years old and I have recently started looking into the publishing process for children’s books. I am especially interested in contemporary middle grade stories that focus on pressing issues that Muslim children have to deal with in this day and age. These books can serve as a guide for young Muslims on how to deal with the unique struggles they face in school, at home, or even within themselves.
Your First Poetry Book is out now, “In Search of Peace” What inspired you to write it?
Oftentimes in life, we find ourselves caught in cycles. This includes cycles of sin, cycles of depression, cycles of frustration with ourselves, or anything else that hurts our soul. It can be difficult to escape these cycles, but most definitely not impossible. “In Search of Peace” brings to words the journey of breaking free from such cycles with the help of our religion. The teachings of Islam can help us shift our mindset from that of hopelessness to hopefulness, and from there, we can work towards navigating the challenges of becoming a better version of ourselves. “In Search of Peace” emphasizes Allah (swt)’s everlasting presence throughout the entire journey, including in our most trying moments, as well as His mercy and compassion when we start to slip. Once again, it's definitely not easy, but I hope the book inspires the belief in others that change is possible, no matter how many times we fall back into our old ways. Anything is possible if Allah (swt) is by our side.
I’ve wanted to write this book since I was fourteen after undergoing such spiritual challenges on my own, but it took a long time for the right words to come to mind in order to convey this message. I hope that anyone who is struggling with believing in themselves can take away something from this book and feel even a little more confident in their ability to improve and thrive against any challenge in their life.
What is your writing process like?
I hate brainstorming and planning ahead with my writing for some reason. Whenever I used to take tests in school that involved writing a story, I would write the story first, then fill out the required brainstorming page! I find it much more fun to just come up with things as I go. It’s almost like a little suspenseful journey in itself, not knowing what’s coming up next and simply enjoying the creative process.
My writing inspiration comes from anything that happens in my day-to-day life that I find interesting. From a failed test, to a sudden rainstorm, to an interaction with a friend, I enjoy looking at the meaning behind everything and finding a lesson in it, no matter how small. “In Search of Peace” was based off of these types of little moments in my life that added up to create one big spiritual journey.
Who are some of your favourite authors and books, and how have they influenced your writing?
When it comes to books regarding spirituality and reflection, I love Asmaa Hussein and Yasmin Mogahed’s works. It’s extremely difficult to be vulnerable and expose your challenges to the entire world, but in doing so, these incredible women have helped tens of thousands of people work towards healing themselves and developing a stronger relationship with Allah (swt). Their efforts have displayed the sheer power of words that is sometimes underestimated or underappreciated. I still love writing for fun, but to be able to use my words to support others through challenging times, like they have, is a big goal of mine.
What are your future goals as a writer and teacher? What areas would you like to teach, and do you have any plans to write more books?
Inshallah, as an English teacher, I hope to encourage children to utilize the power of self-reflection in order to become the best in whatever they choose to do. I also hope to break the myth prominent among students that English, as a subject, is useless and boring, and instead help them work towards a stronger relationship between themselves and the words they write. English isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but strong writing and thinking skills can later translate to success in science, math, or whatever a student chooses to pursue, even though they don’t see that connection yet as young teens.
As a writer, I hope to Inshallah continue writing as much poetry as possible, but I also want to contribute to the world of children’s chapter books one day. I especially want to write about characters that are confident in their religious identity and use their strength of faith to tackle challenges in their life.
We encourage everyone in our community to support Aimen by purchasing her first book "In Search of Peace." We have attached a link where you can purchase it below.