Safar by Sarah Malik

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Safar is a very beautiful hardcover book with its pastel coloured pages and soft illustrations of people, designs and places by renown artist Amani Haydar. ‘Safar’ means journey. The chapters explore what different kinds of travel mean to Muslim women: travel as a journalist, travel as adventure, travel to original homelands, changes to identity in different countries, finding a new home, the politics of travel, and the peace and spirituality of natural spaces.

The chapters draw together conversations with such interesting people as Yassmin Abdel-Magied, Dr Susan Carland, and Tasneem Chopra, to name just a few. One contributor, Zenith Irfan, was the first woman to scale the mountains of Pakistan on a motorbike at the age of twenty! Dr Umber Rind shares her experience as a Badimaya Yamatji and Pakistani woman working in anti-racism advocacy. We hear stories from all of these women, with many humorous, thoughtful and inspirational insights. Malik includes their tips, as they share what they have learned in their journeys.

The Muslim tradition of Hajj, the pilgrimage made by millions to the Kaaba in Mecca, is named after Hajar, wife of Abraham, who, lost in the desert, sought guidance from Allah, and then discovered water. In honour of her, and other notable Muslim women travellers of the past, this book highlights the stories of discovery and transformation made by modern day women. It offers thoughts and reflections, and stories that all readers can empathise with, regardless of their religion, but must be a particular source of pride and inspiration for young Muslim women and girls. The book presents such a fascinating collection of intelligent and confident women.

For those who enjoy the book and want more, there is a very good YouTube video of Sarah Malik in conversation with TV Presenter Farah Celjo and illustrator Amani Haydar on the release of Safar.

Themes: Muslims in Australia, Travel, Identity, Self empowerment.

Helen Eddy