Skip to main content
Muslim Girls Rise: Inspirational Champions of Our Time book cover

Muslim Girls Rise: Inspirational Champions of Our Time

By Saira Mir, Illustrated by Aaliya Jaleel. Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2019. 48 pages, $26.99.
Sultan Rana

Muslim Girls Rise is a powerful collection of 19 mini-biographies of Muslim women who have gone against the status-quo in the 21st century. Author Saira Mir presents an eclectic mix of Muslim women in the global context, their stories complemented by rich illustrations by Aaliya Jaleel.

Stories of Muslim women mired in restrictive, patriarchal and oppressive contexts are presented much too often in texts for children. This book goes against that trope, interrupting single-story stereotypes of Muslim women that often frame them as meek, victims, oppressed and simplistic. Instead, the women who are featured are creative, fun-loving, humorous, and passionate – no monolithic portrayal here!

Functioning as a counter-narrative, Muslim Girls Rise highlights the lives of scientists, activists, artists, athletes and famous political figures, such as U.S. House of Representatives congresswoman Ilhan Omar and American civil rights leader Linda Sarsour, who are often targets of hateful, right-wing, American political rhetoric.

This book does more than satisfy curriculum expectations in the Literacy and Social Studies curriculums. The stories will be of particular use to educators teaching in more homogenous racial and religious contexts that may have few or limited opportunities to share diverse Muslim voices. As Rudine Sims Bishop famously noted, books are portals for our students, acting as “windows” through which they can be exposed to the experiences of others, and as “mirrors” in which they might see their own experiences reflected. Let this text help your Muslim students get a break from the typical stories of struggle so many narratives about Muslim people are centred on. Use the profiles to expose non-Muslim youth to cool and intriguing Muslim women who are leaders and content creators.

Finally, use this book to show female and female-identifying students the important role Muslim women are playing as leaders in feminism, equality and equity in North American and global contexts.

Sultan Rana is a member of the York Region Teacher Local.