Muslim YA books are thankfully becoming more popular. My definition of Muslim YA (as someone is not Muslim) is young adult books by Muslims about Muslim teens and their realities.
The reason why I enjoy these books is that in a world where many are sadly discriminated against for their faith, Muslim YA books create a window into the lives of these teens. In most of the books I’ve listed below, the main characters are practicing Muslims, some even donning the hijab.
Some of these books show the challenges teens face as a result of culture. Others show the struggles resulting from Islamophobia. But many of them just show teens living their lives in the 21st century.
If you have young adults (or adults) looking for books about Muslim teens, I hope you find this post useful! Obviously, it’s not an exhaustive list. I tried not to include too many books from one author, so feel free to browse each author’s entire portfolio for something that appeals to you.
15 of the Best Muslim YA Books
Disclaimer: I use affiliate links for both Indiebound and Amazon so I will make a few extra cents at no cost to you if you buy through my links. It would be a great way to support the blog.
Saints and Misfits
Published: June 13, 2017
There are three kinds of people in my world:
- Saints, those special people moving the world forward. Sometimes you glaze over them. Or, at least, I do. They’re in your face so much, you can’t see them, like how you can’t see your nose.
- Misfits, people who don’t belong. Like me—the way I don’t fit into Dad’s brand-new family or in the leftover one composed of Mom and my older brother, Mama’s-Boy-Muhammad.
Also, there’s Jeremy and me. Misfits. Because although, alliteratively speaking, Janna and Jeremy sound good together, we don’t go together. Same planet, different worlds.
But sometimes worlds collide and beautiful things happen, right?
- Monsters. Well, monsters wearing saint masks, like in Flannery O’Connor’s stories.
Like the monster at my mosque.
People think he’s holy, untouchable, but nobody has seen under the mask.
Does My Head Look Big in This?
Published: May 1, 2007
When sixteen-year-old Amal decides to wear the hijab full-time, her entire world changes, all because of a piece of cloth…
Sixteen-year-old Amal makes the decision to start wearing the hijab full-time and everyone has a reaction. Her parents, her teachers, her friends, people on the street. But she stands by her decision to embrace her faith and all that it is, even if it does make her a little different from everyone else.
Can she handle the taunts of “towel head,” the prejudice of her classmates, and still attract the cutest boy in school?
She Wore Red Trainers
Published: June 7, 2014
When Ali first meets Amirah, he notices everything about her—her hijab, her long eyelashes and her red trainers—in the time it takes to have one look, before lowering his gaze. And, although Ali is still coming to terms with the loss of his mother and exploring his identity as a Muslim, and although Amirah has sworn never to get married, they can’t stop thinking about each other. Can Ali and Amirah ever have a halal “happily ever after”?
Love, Hate, and Other Filters
Published: January 16, 2018
Seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and pursuing a boy she’s known from afarsince grade school.
But in the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.
Love from A to Z
Published: April 30, 2019
A marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like
potatoes—because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries
Adam and his mom used to make together.
An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are.
But Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, isn’t bad. She’s angry.
When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break.
Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her.
Then her path crosses with Adam’s.
Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister.
Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father.
Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals.
Until a marvel and an oddity occurs…
Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting.
Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting.
A Very Large Expanse of Sea
Published: October 16, 2018
It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.
Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.
But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.
Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.
With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the camp’s Director and his guards.
Not the Girls You’re Looking for
Published: June 19, 2018
Lulu Saad doesn’t need your advice, thank you very much. She’s got her three best friends and nothing can stop her from conquering the known world. Sure, for half a minute she thought she’d nearly drowned a cute guy at a party, but he was totally faking it. And fine, yes, she caused a scene during Ramadan. It’s all under control. Ish.
Except maybe this time she’s done a little more damage than she realizes. And if Lulu can’t find her way out of this mess soon, she’ll have to do more than repair friendships, family alliances, and wet clothing. She’ll have to go looking for herself.
Written in the Stars
Published: March 24, 2015
Naila’s conservative immigrant parents have always said the same thing: She may choose what to study, how to wear her hair, and what to be when she grows up—but they will choose her husband. Following their cultural tradition, they will plan an arranged marriage for her. And until then, dating—even friendship with a boy—is forbidden.
When Naila breaks their rule by falling in love with Saif, her parents are livid. Convinced she has forgotten who she truly is, they travel to Pakistan to visit relatives and explore their roots. But Naila’s vacation turns into a nightmare when she learns that plans have changed—her parents have found her a husband and they want her to marry him, now! Despite her greatest efforts, Naila is aghast to find herself cut off from everything and everyone she once knew. Her only hope of escape is Saif . . . if he can find her before it’s too late.
The Lines We Cross
Published: May 9, 2017
Michael likes to hang out with his friends and play with the latest graphic design software. His parents drag him to rallies held by their anti-immigrant group, which rails against the tide of refugees flooding the country. And it all makes sense to Michael.
Until Mina, a beautiful girl from the other side of the protest lines, shows up at his school, and turns out to be funny, smart — and a Muslim refugee from Afghanistan. Suddenly, his parents’ politics seem much more complicated.
Mina has had a long and dangerous journey fleeing her besieged home in Afghanistan, and now faces a frigid reception at her new prep school, where she is on scholarship. As tensions rise, lines are drawn. Michael has to decide where he stands. Mina has to protect herself and her family. Both have to choose what they want their world to look like.
That Thing We Call a Heart
Published: May 9, 2017
Shabnam Qureshi is facing a summer of loneliness and boredom until she meets Jamie, who scores her a job at his aunt’s pie shack. Shabnam quickly finds herself in love, while her former best friend, Farah, who Shabnam has begun to reconnect with, finds Jamie worrying.
In her quest to figure out who she really is and what she really wants, Shabnam looks for help in an unexpected place—her family, and her father’s beloved Urdu poetry.
That Thing We Call a Heart is a funny and fresh story about the importance of love—in all its forms.
Ayesha Dean – The Istanbul Intrigue
Published: January 13, 2021
Ayesha and her friends Sara and Jess jump at the chance of accompanying Ayesha’s uncle on a trip from Australia to Istanbul. But when Ayesha discovers a mysterious note as a result of visiting an old bookshop, their relaxing holiday starts to get a whole lot more complicated.
Ayesha finds herself trying to uncover a hundred-year-old Ibn Arabi mystery, while trying to avoid creepy villains, and still making sure that she gets to eat the best doner kebab Istanbul has to offer. It’s all in a day’s sleuthing when you’re Ayesha Dean. Lucky she can count on her best friends to always have her back!
All-American Muslim Girl
Published: November 12, 2019
Allie Abraham has it all going for her–she’s a straight-A student, with good friends and a close-knit family, and she’s dating cute, popular, and sweet Wells Henderson. One problem: Wells’s father is Jack Henderson, America’s most famous conservative shock jock…and Allie hasn’t told Wells that her family is Muslim.
It’s not like Allie’s religion is a secret, exactly. It’s just that her parents don’t practice and raised her to keep her Islamic heritage to herself. But as Allie witnesses ever-growing Islamophobia in her small town and across the nation, she begins to embrace her faith — studying it, practicing it, and facing hatred and misunderstanding for it.
Who is Allie, if she sheds the façade of the “perfect” all-American girl? What does it mean to be a “Good Muslim?”And can a Muslim girl in America ever truly fit in? ALL-AMERICAN MUSLIM GIRL is a relevant, relatable story of being caught between two worlds, and the struggles and hard-won joys of finding your place.
Ten Things I Hate About Me
Published: January 1, 2009
“At school I’m Aussie-blonde Jamie — one of the crowd. At home I’m Muslim Jamilah — driven mad by my Stone Age dad. I should win an Oscar for my acting skills. But I can’t keep it up for much longer…”
Jamie just wants to fit in. She doesn’t want to be seen as a stereotypical Muslim girl, so she does everything possible to hide that part of herself. Even if it means pushing her friends away because she’s afraid to let them know her dad forbids her from hanging out with boys or that she secretly loves to play the darabuka (Arabic drums).
Zara Hossain Is Here
Published: April 6, 2021
Seventeen-year-old Pakistani immigrant, Zara Hossain, has been leading a fairly typical life in Corpus Christi, Texas, since her family moved there for her father to work as a pediatrician. While dealing with the Islamophobia that she faces at school, Zara has to lay low, trying not to stir up any trouble and jeopardize their family’s dependent visa status while they await their green card approval, which has been in process for almost nine years.
But one day her tormentor, star football player Tyler Benson, takes things too far, leaving a threatening note in her locker, and gets suspended. As an act of revenge against her for speaking out, Tyler and his friends vandalize Zara’s house with racist graffiti, leading to a violent crime that puts Zara’s entire future at risk. Now she must pay the ultimate price and choose between fighting to stay in the only place she’s ever called home or losing the life she loves and everyone in it.
There they are: 15 of the best Muslim YA books to get your hands on! I hope you find one that meets your needs.Check out these 15 Muslim YA books by Muslim authors about Muslim teens! Click To Tweet
Over to you: Have you read and enjoyed any of these Muslim YA books? Got any extra recommendations? I’ve also loved reading a few middle-grade books with Muslim protagonists, particularly, Hena Khan‘s books.
Jane Rosebery says
Oh, this list is phenomenal. All-American Muslim Girl sounds good to me. I’ve read that author before so I’ll probably try this one too. I hope a school teacher comes across your list so she/he can make the recommendations to the school library!
Afoma Umesi says
Thank you, Jane! I hope they do too! I’m also really looking forward to ALL-AMERICAN MUSLIM GIRL even though I’ve never read the author before.
To update, two newer YA novels are Yara’s Spring by Jamal Saaeed & Sharon E McKay, Sadia by Colleen Nelson, and The Parkour Club by Arooj Hayat and Pam Withers.
Afoma Umesi says
Hi Pam, thanks for sharing! I’ll look these up 🙂
A Very Large Expanse of Sea was such a disappointment and I do not recommend it. It didn’t have any good Muslim representation. However, Love From A to Z is one of my favorites. I’ll definitely check out the others!
Afoma Umesi says
Hi! Thank you so much for reading and sharing your thoughts. I liked Love from A-Z as well. Hope you enjoy your other selections 🙂
“A Thousand Questions” by Saadia Faruqi was excellent if you need a middle grade next reading idea! Highly recommend. Sabina Khan is fantastic, really enjoyed “The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali” by Khan, just ordered “Zara Hossain is Here”. Thank you so much for making this list, I’ve used it as a resource in developing a “Muslim Experiences” booklist for the library I work for. Thank you again!
Afoma Umesi says
Hi Andrew! I loved A THOUSAND QUESTIONS and even interviewed Faruuqi on the blog. I’ll have to read more Sabina Khan then 🙂 Thanks for the recs.