Bio: Muti’ah grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and claims Ibadan as the hometown of her heart. A self-proclaimed bibliophile who reads everything except fantasy and paranormal, Muti’ah started writing in high school, hand-written stories in lined notebooks; invariably filled with teen-aged drama, American high school themes and foreign-named characters. Her writing has improved somewhat since then.When she is not reading, writing, doctoring or parenting, Muti’ah can be found watching documentaries on historical and social justice issues, exploring physical bookshops with her children or sleeping. She also enjoys building elaborate fantasies of what her life would be like if she didn’t have to work. In many ways, Muti’ah is the reserved bookworm from her adolescence. She is still figuring out these new fang’d means of human connectedness called Social Media.
She can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, all @deenprogress .
Summary of her book: When Rekiya and Zaynunah met as teenagers, neither had any inkling this would be the start of a lifelong friendship. That the bond they formed as friends would see them through the best and worst times…
Rekiya & Z explores the themes of Time and its fickleness, trauma, loss and the varying realities of Muslim Womanhood against the backdrop of Africa’s most populous country.
Papatia Feauzar: Assalamu aleikum Muti’ah, welcome to Hayati Magazine! Can you please tell us something we don’t know about you?
Muti’ah Badruddeen: Wa alayki salaam warahmatuLlaah. Thank you for having me.
Well, it’s not common knowledge but I didn’t read fiction books for about a decade and half, from the late 2000s until almost 2015 when the need to find interesting books for my kids, by then transitioning into reading by themselves, pushed me to rekindle the love affair with fiction.
PF: Reading’s Block is common. Especially, if you were reading medical books for your profession. Anyway, please tell us more about your debut novel Rekiyah & Z including the ups and down while writing it.
MB: When the idea for Rekiya & Z came to me, I wasn’t writing a “book” per se – I was just writing out a story that had taken up space in my head and refused to leave. As most authors would tell you, we get more book ideas than we could ever hope to write but the persistent one, the ones with characters that speak to you and drive you near crazy until you tell their story… Rekiya & Z was that for me.
And because I was going through a bit of a struggle myself during the period I was writing it, it was sometimes triggering, sometimes cathartic and ultimately painful to write. There were times when I abandoned it because it was all too much. Then, there was a time my laptop crashed and took an entire chunk of it into the blackhole of technology. But once I got through it, the rest of the process was a bit anticlimactic.
PF: I found the story sad at times and like a cautionary tale. Was that your intent?
MB: No, it wasn’t. I didn’t have much of an intent beyond wanting to tell the story that came to me in a dream. But I remember thinking while writing it that it was a rebuke to myself, first, about the very fickle nature of time. How we all assume we have an endless supply of it but in reality, we don’t. How we — how I — needed to fix my life, my relationships; and to live my best possible life every day.
And of course, when the book came out, readers found their own meaning in it. For some, it was the trauma and healing. For others, it was the friendship between Rekiya and Zaynunah; others found it in the myriad of female and family relationships…
Personally, I am happy to let each reader decide how the book speaks to them. I am more than blessed that humans are connecting to my words.
PF: I agree. I read a quote online that said something along the lines that when the author is done writing a piece, the story belongs to the reader. I agree with that quote based on your answer above. Now, what has been your road to publishing like?
MB: I had settled on self-publishing early on because it was my international debut, and I didn’t want to wait through the very tedious process traditional publishing entails even if I could find a publisher who would take on a book about African Muslim women in a narrative very different from the stereotypes often peddled about us. I also wanted as much creative control as I could get, yet I knew I couldn’t do it all by myself — given the nature of my life and attendant responsibilities. In all, I found a hybrid author-supported publisher and the rest is…
Well, that left me with marketing but that is surely a tale for another day.
FZ: In my experience, marketing is exhausting from both a publisher and writer’s perspective to be honest. But like you said, that’s a story for another day *laughs.* So, do you plan on writing more books?
MB: Bi ithniLlaah! I intend to put out more books as long as Allaah grants me the leave.
PF: Indeed, insha‘Allaah. Do you write in other genres?
MB: I have a motivational/self-help book that was published in 2010. And one of the projects I’m currently working on is historical fiction. But for now, I’m concentrating on telling contemporary Islamic fiction.
PF: Anything else you want the readers to know?
MB: Just how much I am grateful for the support given to me since Rekiya & Z was released. And to please stick with me, we have more meaningful Muslim stories in our future.
PF: Muti’ah, thank you for being with us. The Team at Hayati Magazine wishes you much even more success with all your works, aameen!