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As MuslimMatters.org was hosting the 2021 Muslim Bookstagram Awards, we also recorded a special mini-series of podcast episodes with each judge. Our second episode features Kirin Nabi, also known as The Islamic School Librarian. A former teacher now turned Islamic school librarian and avid book reviewer, Kirin has years of experience under her belt! You can find her on Instagram (@islamicschoollibrarian) and on her website.

Kirin Nabi
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Transcript from the Interview

Assalamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh!
Welcome back to the MuslimMatters podcast, where we discuss everything under the sun that affects Muslims, such as faith, local-global politics, social media, sex, education, civil rights, family matters and more – all coming from a traditional orthodox perspective. Subscribe to our podcast, follow us online on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram by our handle @MuslimMatters, and check out our site daily: MuslimMatters.org

Zainab bint Younus:
As-salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh! Welcome to a special edition of the MuslimMatters podcast. In honor of the Muslim Bookstagram Awards, we’re featuring a mini-series of episodes with the judges. Today, we are joined by Kirin Nabi! As-salamu ‘alaykum!

Kirin Nabi:
Wa alaikum as-salam!

Zainab bint Younus:
Kirin Nabi is a former Islamic school librarian who now hosts (often virtual) storytimes for the local Islamic school as well as for the larger Muslim community at the masjid. She runs an Islamic Middle School Book Club, stewards little free libraries, blogs about children’s books by Muslim authors, or books containing Muslim characters at her website: www.Islamicschoollibrarian.com. You can also find her on Instagram: @Islamicschoollibrarian.

Welcome to the podcast! I’m so excited to have you! I’m going to jump into the questions right away. First, how would you describe the Muslim Bookstagram space? When did you first join Muslim Bookstagram? What has the experience been like? You’ve got an amazing following MashaAllah. You’ve got incredible reviews. How many years have you been on? Tell us everything!

Kirin Nabi:
Well, I’m going to back up a little. It started in January 2014. We’ve been doing this for eight years; I have been doing this for eight years. It really started when I was an Islamic school librarian for a preschool to eighth-grade school in Knoxville, Tennessee. We did daycare too, even preschool was a little generous. I was hired to make the library a part of the school. I did multiple storytimes, we celebrated reading week, and I wanted to do book clubs – so we did an elementary middle school book club.

In 2014, there just weren’t a lot of books that had Islamic rep characters by Muslim authors. I was constantly scrambling, thinking that finding the books was just as exhilarating as finding a good book. I mean, just to see yourself in the pages! I never really thought that growing up. It’s something that I came to as an adult, seeing myself in children’s literature. I get excited. I just couldn’t keep everything straight. It kind of started as an Excel file. Then people would ask me, like, hey, what do you recommend for my seven-year-old who likes this? It was just exhausting. I was like, you know what, let me put it online, then I can just tell people where to go.

It was a blog and very recently, I turned it into a website, which is still kind of in the process. My tech skills are not actually very well done. I’m looking at it right now, but I didn’t realize just how well laid out the website itself is. I love that you open it up by browsing by level, which is super-duper helpful for many people. But there are many errors in it, I’m still working on it. It’s a learning process. Basically, it grew from there. We left Knoxville, which meant leaving my beloved job, we moved to Alabama, just with four kids at the time, now I have five.

I just haven’t gotten back to school in a full-time position. I just was like, you know, this is something I love. I’m not going to stop; I’m going to do storytimes for the community, do Ramadan craft storytimes week, for the community then go into the schools to help the teachers, when COVID hit.
I was doing virtual storytimes for the lower elementary. The blog slash website has always kind of been a resource. We’re going to do a theme on Alhamdulillah gratitude, or the five senses.

Whatever it is, I always try to include Islamic rep that mirrors for the children to see themselves… to see that when a character sneezes, they say Alhamdulillah. They seem such little tiny things now in 2021 but have never seen that difference. It normalizes it. My kids are over it. They’re like, “Mom, we have hundreds of books that have Muslim rep.” I’m like, “I know!” But I still get excited.

When we moved, I didn’t have daily storytimes or the daily book club stuff. I started Instagram. I don’t have nearly the followers that most people do that have been doing it as long as I have. But it was never really about that. I’m okay with that. I feel like, if it’s rewarding for me, then the rest is a bonus Alhamdulillah. The Instagram book space, that was the original question.

Zainab bint Younus:
That’s totally fine! I’m glad you provide all that information background because it’s interesting. I didn’t know your whole origin story fully, either. It’s really cool to me.

Kirin Nabi:
Yeah, it was always just a resource, the blog. I mean, it was just a place that I didn’t have to honestly answer. Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, all that just was one more step people could find me that I didn’t have to sit down actually, like, type out emails, texts responses because I still get excited. If somebody were to text me right now and be like, what should my nine-year-old read? I’d be like, oh, let me figure this out. It excites me that even kids just get excited about books.

I think that being as old as I am, being in a school situation, I saw the genuine fear that people thought kids were going to not connect to physical books. I think we’ve really gotten through that fear. With picture books, especially, there was fear at the library level; it is a different experience, like holding it in your hands, being able to look at the illustrations, it is a totally different emotional connection. Especially for little kids that are much more tactile, it’s an important connection to see yourself physically be able to, like, touch the picture of somebody that looks like you just have it be fleeting across the screen.

Honestly, my view of Bookstagram; I feel like I’m still learning, I think the biggest learning has been since we started doing these Muslim Book Awards, connecting MuslimMommy blog, Muslim Kids’ Book Nook, you, and I altogether have been eye-opening. I would be the one asking you guys how to navigate Bookstagram, how to benefit, how to learn, how to collab with people. I’m very much on that end, not the leader, not the teacher, I’m very much the student.

Zainab bint Younus:
I’m very excited about it. I mean, honestly, you’ve been at it longer than I have, I only joined Instagram a couple of years ago now I think, just pre COVID. It was exciting connecting with you, Shifa, Amire, just learning much more.
My thing has always been, YA, adult literature, that kind of thing. I learned so much from you three about better analyzing, like picture books, Muslim kid lit in general. I noticed that I now have a more refined palate for these types of books, more awareness.

That’s what I really appreciate about your reviews, especially where you kind of go into the nitty-gritty a little bit, considering a lot of different elements that I previously wouldn’t have paid attention to. Whether it’s a specific kind of Muslim rep, or it’s recognizing that Muslims in illustrations don’t necessarily mean that the story is Muslim, focusing on authenticity, for example, versus more of a whitewashed voice or explaining away too many things. Like there are just many cool elements that you focus on, you touch on and identify in your reviews. I really appreciate it, I’ve learned a lot from it. Thank you for that!

Kirin Nabi: 
Well, thank you for noticing. Early when I started, if there was like a Muslim character, I was like “Islamic fiction!” I mean, I knew it was fiction, it wasn’t teaching something that’s grounded in fact, but I think I’ve grown and evolved. Sometimes I really cringe when I look at old reviews, I don’t change them because I think that’s part of the process. You know, in some ways, part of the journey is its own beauty.

It seems to keep branching out. I mean, you had Muslim characters fiction. Now we have Muslims in the illustrations, we have Islamic fiction. I think you’ve coined the term Islamic stories or books, which I love. I’m excited, I’m here for it! I love when we don’t have to explain. We just get to this and having our stories, more than just the five or six. To see them being published mainstream, I think is absolutely tremendous.

I really thought – I kind of, do still think in the back of my head, that probably, in three or four years, I may not be doing this because there won’t be a need, because we have more in our TBR piles than I could ever have imagined. I used to seriously dig and search. I don’t know what the future holds for it. But I love that it’s not just a Muslim character by a Muslim author. There are Muslim authors that try to write fantasy, historical fiction, that has nothing to do with Muslim characters. That’s important sometimes for our youth to see, that you can be an author, you don’t have to write about a Muslim character, you don’t have to limit yourself, it’s not one or the other, this book can be this way. That book can be another way. You can be an illustrator, include it or not include it.
The labels and tags for the literature that we have today are much more specific to the content. I love that book about somebody finding a frog at school, there’s a Muslim in the class, like it doesn’t even have to articulate it. But that that is on the radar that needs to be included, is a great testament to Muslim making advances and getting more representation.

Zainab bint Younus: 
I like the nuances that reflect more awareness of the complexity of our realities. I like the points that you made, you can be a Muslim author who doesn’t specifically write about Muslim things. One of those authors for me is Intisar Khanani, the author of Thorn and Theft of Sunlight, which was a cool fantasy and I loved it. I think it’s actually going to be a trilogy. I thought it was cool, where she took older, lesser-known fairy tales – I think Goose Girl was the first one – and she kind of plays with it a little bit, gives it a whole new life, doesn’t make it explicitly Muslim or Eastern. But she brings in like, very subtly different elements. It’s not just standard whitewashed fantasy, you know what I mean?

Kirin Nabi:
Exactly, I think she is a good example of being just like any other author, right? Authors write about what they know, they research, they do other things, but so much of it comes from their vision of their characters and their fictitious world. I think to see it coming through a Muslim blend of Muslim female and other minority groups within Muslims, it’s powerful, even if it’s not explicit.

Zainab bint Younus:
Jumping from that, tell us about your experiences as an Islamic school librarian: the good, the bad, the ugly! The struggle of curating an Islamic library that’s fully appropriate for a Muslim school environment.
As for me, I’m working on our madrasah library. There are books that I love for myself personally, but then I’m like, yeah, I can’t really put that on the shelf, because if somebody is going to pick that up, they’re going to get totally the wrong message. Or they’re not going to understand that this is about opening your mind as opposed to like, here, this is fine, acceptable, you know. Tell us a little bit about that, especially with regards to kids’ books.

Kirin Nabi:
I lucked out in that although I wasn’t an official employee, I was brought in. In the building and the curating of the library, I wasn’t there from book one. From early on, with a lot of the books, non-Islamic, just even regular classics, I was just reading everything I could. I usually just read the first book of a series to see where I would identify the flags, for what age group. The principal used to always tease, saying yes, she has read every book in this library. And I went like, no, no, no, please don’t say that!
Just taking that responsibility because it is an amaanah, that you are putting something in a child’s hands or letting them take something into their home. You want to make sure it is a good fit. That is an appropriate fit.
When I was working as an Islamic school librarian, I had a lot of control. There were certain books that I would not let fifth graders checkout; I would not let second graders checkout. I was involved in the book fairs through Scholastic; there were books that I would flag and say, these can’t be for sale because of these ones or whatever. I had a lot of power. With great power comes great responsibility, right? The school was very, very, very supportive.

But we sent out a disclaimer at the beginning of the year that parents had to sign, that said that the school library is like a public library, it is the responsibility of the child, if you have concerns, you have to come to the librarian to discuss them. She will do her best. That removed pressure on me, allowed me to step up where I felt like I could.
That’s something that, if any of you listeners out there are starting a school library, or a madrasah library, or Masjid library, whatever your capacity is – you need it from the higher ups, establish a policy, because that policy is going to protect you and the institution as you move forward. Whatever it is, it’s fine. I mean, it’s unique to your abilities. If somebody is actually sitting in the library, you have a lot more control than if it’s by appointment only or open all the time. You really have to have that standard

Zainab bint Younus:
I’m really glad you brought that up, because I am now going to do that for hours.

Kirin Nabi:
Even if it’s a masjid or madrasah you just print it out, frame it, stick it on the floor. Of course, we all know they’re not going to read it or whatever. But it protects you. You say no, this was the responsibility of the parents to communicate to their children.
In a school library, it’s a little different. Like, I wouldn’t let elementary check-out Hunger Games. Like it’s barbaric. It’s fabulous, but it’s barbaric. We’re killing each other for sport, right? You know, I had forms that if they really wanted to check it out, they could have their parents sign the paper and bring it back. I was fine with it. But I felt like I needed to protect my standard and protect the school.
I would have parents that came in and said a lot of first and second-grade books, like Clementine, Judy Moody, Junie B Jones and Dire Evil – they have a lot of fart jokes, poop jokes. Parents were like, these are inappropriate, please don’t let my kid check them out, like great. I would have a list on my desk when they come in and tell them to pick something else. I was willing to accommodate that because I was sitting there the whole day. I had that kind of control.

The Islamic work, the Muslim characters, Islamic fiction, all of it was really just an extension of that. I think it hits very different when you read, you know, The Scarlet Letter. If you flip that, you have a Muslim character, it’s a whole lot different. You may be labeled YA or teen, you put in a Muslim character, and it’s not appropriate. It’s not something I felt like I could hand to an eighth-grader. So there’s that.

I currently am helping read, and build our school library here. I’m walking in and there’s already 1000s of books. I’m inventorying them one at a time. I am mentally flagging books that are, you know, Israeli Zionist voices, for example, that I’m like, Oh, this book might just have to need to disappear. Because, yes, maybe it is written on a middle-grade level, but we have a lot of baggage when it comes to that, a lot of points. I don’t think this book is going to reflect it. I’m going to make that executive decision. That’s the responsibility.

Those are the things that in a public library, you’re going to have books that you don’t agree with. If you’re an employee in a public library, there will always be that step away, that it is different – or exactly because it’s different when you hand somebody a book, you are an Islamic school representative, or a masjid representative or madrasah representative… that you are trusting that this child is going to relate to this story all that it entails.
That was also the beauty though, of doing a book club, because we could kind of push the envelope a little bit more, knowing that I would get to have those discussions. That’s why even when I came here, I thought to continue book clubs because there are some amazing books out there. But they have, you know, some little flags, but I think they just need discussion. I mean, our kids are not, they’re in a bubble, but they can’t be completely ignorant to the larger world. Fiction is an amazing tool to talk about those things without being racist, stereotypical, and ignorant because it’s theoretical, it’s not real.

Zainab bint Younus:
I absolutely agree. That is something that comes to my mind a lot – the fact that sometimes we just need discussions. It’s unfortunate to me that a lot of the parents don’t want to have these discussions like whether it’s about relationships, whether they’re like the boyfriend, girlfriend, or even LGBT relationships that they’re seeing out in the real world, but they’re not having these conversations at home. Sometimes there are really good books that are coming out that cover these themes. But because the kids haven’t been provided with that framework, to begin with at home, we need to be able to provide that.
The first one that comes to my mind is all American Muslim Girl, which I love. It’s interesting. It’s unique. It’s different. But it does cover certain topics issues that I know a lot of Muslim teenagers don’t have the Muslim framework for, because those conversations just do not come up at home. They either just got the non-Muslim lens from public school, or the from a Muslim perspective, this is all bad, all wrong, how do we even figure this out. That’s a book where I will flag. It was like, yeah, you need to be old enough to have an understanding. You need to be able to either come to me or your parents discuss this with them because there are going to be things that need to be talked about.

Kirin Nabi:
Well, we know from forever, anytime you make something bad or forbidden or taboo, it makes it more intriguing and interesting. You’d want to have what you can’t have. I feel like, by talking about it, where you’re not dealing with it, once you’re dealing with it, then it requires a whole different level of patience and expertise. But when you can just talk about these items in reference to a book, it helps to take away the stigma, it helps to take away the taboo news of it. You can have really good conversations because kids are getting so much from TikTok or whatever. They know what they know, everything that’s out there, they really just need us to provide the context, the Islamic framework for them to understand the Islamic view on it, because we can’t shield them from it by not giving them the context. We’re failing them. It’s a disservice.

Like you said, with all of our Muslim girls, even Saints & Misfits, like I am introducing that to my daughter, because we’ve talked about inappropriate touching. Those are things we start talking about in my family, from very young – 4-5-6. Don’t be alone. If you feel uncomfortable, you just leave. Those are conversations that don’t start happening as a teenager.
But what happens when it does happen? I would rather have that option way before with fictional characters, we can walk ourselves through it. She can feel comfortable to ask me questions. Because it’s not like somebody she knows, it just happened to or just happened to her or she heard about it happening to somebody. You’ve got to get out in front of it.

I think that is really the best way to use some of these books that we’re uncomfortable with. They’re done well, we encourage the kids to read them with us.
The day I found out I was pregnant, I started reading MG and YA books, because I knew that that’s where the trends were going at the time I was teaching fourth grade. I was like, I need to start reading because, by the time this baby is reading, I’ve got to have already sussed out what is appropriate, what’s not. If you really want to say when did this journey begin? That’s when it started. I think pretending that we can show our kids is never going to be the right answer. We just have to be there with them. I love that books are starting to take us there on the raw issues.

Zainab bint Younus:
It is such a valuable, valuable thing to learn. It wasn’t until you articulated it just now actually, that it clicked with me. As you said, going through a certain process or experience in a fictional setting, rather than the immediacy, like the tragedy of somebody having to experience that or a friend experiencing that in real life. It gives a new light to the idea of using these books as a teaching tool. I really appreciate that you brought that up.
One more question, what are your recommendations?

Kirin Nabi:
I’m going to interrupt you because I have noticed – again as I said, I’m not the expert in Bookstagram. But something I have always noticed is that likes, reshares, or whatever you get for picture books is almost always for me – I have a very small platform – that is always higher than for chapter books, teen books, YA books. I think there is less engagement because parents will read a book on how to say alhamdulillah after you sneeze, how to say salaam, how to say bismillah before you eat, they’ll read that book. Then the next mealtime, everybody in the family is going to say bismillah just like they did in that book. We know this. We inherently have parents, teachers. We know that this is how we get kids to remember stuff we put on the songs about anything bismillah before we eat, we read the books about saying bismillah before we eat, when we come to the table, we say bismillah before we eat, but why does it stop? Why?
In second, third, fourth grade? Suddenly, as parents, why do we disengage?

I’m sure I don’t have a bunch of 12-year-olds following me on Instagram, it’s parents. I think that is something that parents and educators need to step up to. That is why I have always fought to have book clubs with Muslim characters, you know. I’m doing a thing about the environment, or earth day, we’re going to have some Islamic stories in there. I think those of us that are in charge and entrusted with these younger minds, have to bridge the gap. There is not an Islamic book about saving the environment. Saving the environment is our Islamic duty, like, let’s just accept that and find a way to merge all of our Islamic knowledge into saving the environment. We have to maintain that energy that we have on our kids, our three, four, five year olds. We are buying every Islamic book, everything we can encourage them to be these well-rounded Muslims. We are really failing them in the upper-middle grade, early YA teen demographic.

Zainab bint Younus:
I agree with that. It’s because picture books are simple, they’re easy, they don’t require that much more depth engagement. I think that might be a bit of a commentary on trends in parenting in general. Why do we stop being invested? Once they get a little bit older? Why are we not continuing to have those conversations furthermore deeply, being willing to contend with even uncomfortable discussions, but that’s the nature of parenting, right?

As your kids get older, there are more and more things that we have to be aware of discussing. They’re not going to be comfortable 90% of the time, everything from you know, hormones to abuse to witnessing and understanding tragedies like refugees. You know, there are many things that are going on in the world. I feel that for a lot of Muslims, especially those from immigrant backgrounds, those things can be a little closer to home. Those are things that do need to be explored and discussed in more detail. Just reinforcing everything you just said.

Kirin Nabi:
Yes, we do. I’m not going to lie, I’m nervous about when I don’t agree. But you, your reviews are epic. I can support you and cheer you on. But I am nervous for the day that I got to go up against you.

Zainab bint Younus:
Oh, man insha’Allah that won’t happen. But if it does, I’m sure it’ll go fine.

Kirin Nabi:
You’re going down! No, I’m just kidding.

Zainab bint Younus:
What was the only book that we far didn’t really didn’t agree on? Hanah Khan?

Kirin Nabi:
No, not mentioning that book, even though I’m defending it. Like I’m not like a hardcore fan of it, it was just okay.

Zainab bint Younus:
All right. This time, this time!

Kirin Nabi:
Not like it’s getting more attention than it deserves.

Zainab bint Younus:
Alright, so moving on to the final question! What are your recommendations for Muslim communities that want to have their own Muslim libraries?

Kirin Nabi:
Like I said, having groundwork has a very clear purpose. I think sometimes it’s easy for masjid boards, or the moms or whoever runs them, to just be like, you have a library. But it’s never that simple. If you are the one taking that responsibility, you have to ask, what is the purpose? Is it a resource for people to come to relax and read fiction? Because a lot of people have issues with fiction? I don’t really set boundaries, you know. Over the years as a teacher, as I’ve taught everything from second grade to high school, then they bring me in as Islamic school librarian. You know, I’ve had many meetings where I get called in by different Imams and asked about Harry Potter. My first question is always, have you read Harry Potter? If they say no, I say why don’t you read it? Then we’ll discuss it. I say very specially, I don’t mean to have any opinion. I think that’s just kind of indicative of the bigger rift.

But it’s one thing to say let’s have a library. It’s another thing to have everybody on the same page with what’s in the library. The purpose of the library is to help kids that are learning how to read and go find their references. That’s a very different library than a safe space where kids can go pick up pictures, you know? Are you going to be okay with these picture books having illustrations with faces?

I set up a little free library at the masjid here. Half of the masjid board was like, why don’t you have the library in the masjid? The other half was like, No, we can’t have it at all. What if somebody put a bomb on the little free library? That’s why I’m saying, even something like that. I was like, you know what, we have mashaAllah a huge parking lot, I would like to put the little free library on the edge of the park.

I said, if there is some nefarious activity, it’s away from any people. At the same time, because it is public, people leave books, people take books, if there’s inappropriate content, it is not reflective of the masjid. Everybody in the room just kind of looked at me with their jaws falling like, oh, well, that makes sense. I had a clear purpose. As soon as they realized that they didn’t even know they were just like, yeah, have a library.
The biggest thing is to find out what the purpose is, have direction and clear boundaries. Because it’s easier to do it again at the beginning than to do it at the end when somebody’s feelings are hurt. If you’re going to do it, it has to be done consistently. Again, it’s easy to say, “have a library.” But teachers, if you’re doing it in an Islamic school, if teachers are not going to bring the kids, if teachers are not going to support and respect the library, if the administration is not going to allocate funds for the library, it can be a labor of love, it will just end in heartache. Like it’s just not going to happen.

Zainab bint Younus:
Yeah, we need to be on the same page about it and understand its purpose, as you said.

Kirin Nabi:
I feel like you could ask any Muslim like, do you want to have an Islamic library? Or you know, a library in Islamic school, they’re all going to say yes. But then the ideas of that are so different. Even in my own family, like, obviously, it’s something I’m passionate about. My kids don’t get a ton of screen time, but they’re always reading. Probably once every few months, my husband will be like, all you guys are reading his fiction like he’ll get all upset. Like, yeah, they’re lying around the house draped on furniture, reading books, like, I’m okay with that. But yeah, you know, to him, it’s like, why aren’t they reading more nonfiction? Why aren’t they reading hadeeth? If that happens in my own home, just imagine that on a larger scale.

Zainab bint Younus:
Absolutely I fully agree with that. That’s definitely been something that I’ve personally been considering a lot because when I was growing up, we had an Islamic center with a super-duper, epic Islamic library. It was very much an academic resource, an Islamic library. There were a handful of kids novels, or, not even not full novels, I don’t know, like some fiction, there were three or four titles that I can literally think of.
The rest was all nonfiction Islamic stuff, which is great. We had shelves of Arabic, English, Somali, a bunch of other stuff. But now that we’re in a different city, a different assumption, a different context, the library that I’m curating, it’s primarily a kid’s library. We have 90% kids’ books, which includes loads of picture books, and middle grade fiction. Then I’ve been developing the YA and adult fiction as well.

But I’ve had to put a stop to like my urge to buy more adult Muslim fiction because we mostly have little kids in middle grade. I must really make a concerted effort to focus on those things specifically. We are building up the adult section of textual, Islamic stuff as well. But again, really having to keep in mind our demographic, who visits the center the most, who’s accessing the library the most, it’s usually just our students. Adults have not yet really borrowed anything, like they’ll browse the shelves be like, Oh, this is really cool, whatever.

We do hope to open it up to the wider community. Once we get everything inventoried, the library card system, whatever. But in the process of creating this library, I’ve had to ask myself, especially for the older kids, as I said, middle grade onwards, do we just want very specific Islamic preachy moral stuff, or not preachy, but more focused on the moral aspects, or are we willing to include explore things that are just kind of fun, might have elements that certain parents may frown upon, like, Miss Marvel.

The first one, I had a little bit of a disagreement with my brother over this he’s like… because you know, she doesn’t wear hijab. I’m like, yeah, but she’s also the character and the family is very visibly Muslim. We had a bit of a tiff about that. Since I’m the librarian, I got to veto that and I just got a few issues of the Miss Marvel comics, but I’m also being careful. At a certain point, when other things like a boyfriend, girlfriend relationships are kind of being explored a little bit more, I got to be careful about that. What are the ages of the kids who are going to be picking these up things like that? There are a lot of different elements to consider because as you said, the very idea of what a Muslim slash Islamic blogger should look like, it’s going to be so very delicate and you have to keep in mind the sensitivities of your demographics.

Kirin Nabi:
Yeah, exactly. No two are ever going to be the same. That’s kind of something that I’m having to grapple with right now that it’s like, oh, well, I did it this way. Well, okay. But that was now five years ago and that was only to eighth grade.
Now I’m working with preschool through 12th grade. It’s amazing how even being immersed in the literary world, it’s not like, it’s a natural, “Oh, okay. We’re going to do it this way.” Like it, it really is soul searching, defining, redefining, having to challenge yourself. Because every community is different. What’s available is different and ever-evolving. I mean, today, you may say, Okay, we’re not going to do any teen and that crosses these boundaries. But that could very well change in three years, four years, you know, it, it’s not a stable thing. It’s constantly moving to change.

Zainab bint Younus:
Well, thank you so much for your time in explaining all of this to our listeners. I love learning all this from you. It’s so cool! The whole concept of being an actual Islamic school librarian is just cool to me. I’m like, wow, I want do that when I grow up!

Kirin Nabi:
Oh no! As I said, the imposter syndrome. I’ve always had a passion for just being around books. Apparently, my mom says that when I was little, I used to always say, I was going to be a librarian. But then I’ve been away from it. A lot of times, I’m like, is it really misleading that like, my website, my Instagram, it’s all Islamic school librarian, but then, like, I’m still involved in the Islamic school library. I don’t really know. If anybody wants to call me out, like yeah, you’re probably right. I am an imposter. If this saves time, it is my dream, I’ve actually looked into going back multiple times to actually get my MLIS – it’s actually a master’s degree to be a librarian.

I know! But part of me is like, do I need to know how to do all the research for what I’m passionate about? Or should I just go to work? It’s not an easy decision, but I definitely feel like an imposter. I recognize it, I own it, but I’m not going to stop because even if I didn’t have any platform, even if you weren’t interviewing me, I would still be reading books and recommending them to people, whether they like them or not.

Zainab bint Younus:
Honestly just keep following the dream! You’re doing an amazing job mashallah. All of us I know who are in the Muslim Bookstagram space and familiar with your work just appreciate it much. JazakAllah Khair for your time, for your work, for your efforts.

To the listeners: Don’t forget to subscribe to MuslimMatters.org and to follow Kirin Nabi at @Islamicschoollibrarian on Instagram. Check out her website because it’s super awesome. Mashallah. JazakAllah khair once more and we’ll speak again! As-salamu ‘alaikum.

 

Hey, everyone, don’t forget to subscribe to our podcast and follow us online on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram on our handle @MuslimMatters. Check out our site daily: MuslimMatters.org Thanks for listening. We’ll see you in the next one Insha’Allah. As-salamualikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuh!

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Source: Muslim Matters