Interview with Umm Zakiyyaih


  • Nadira Brioua
  • Mohammad A. Quayum International Islamic University Malaysia



African-American Literature, Muslims in the West, Islamic Literature, Fiction


Umm Zakiyyah is one of the most prominent African-American Muslim writers writing about Muslims and Islam in the post-9/11 period. Her novels touch on the interfaith struggles of Muslims and Christians in a post-modern world and on the moral, spiritual and intercultural struggles of Muslims as minorities in a country where Muslims have been systematically marginalised after twin-tower attacks in 2001 and the subsequent American invasions of Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003). She also writes about racism, women’s issues, the practice of Muslim women wearing headscarfs, and polygamy. In this interview, Umm Zakiyyah talks about her favourite writers, about the function of the writer in general, about the critical reception of her novels and about the influence of Islam on her imagination. She also addresses the issues of Islamophobia in the West, the future of Islamic fiction and questions pertaining to If I Should Speak and other novels.

Author Biographies

Nadira Brioua

Nadira Brioua has a Master’s degree in English Literature. She wrote a thesis on Black American Civil Rights Movement Between 1954 and 1968 for her Master’s degree. Nadira is currently pursuing her PhD in English Literary Studies at International Islamic University Malaysia. Her research focuses on a comparative study of three Muslim writers in the West: Umm Zakiyyah (USA), Na’ima B. Robert (UK) and Randa Abdel-Fattah (Australia).

Mohammad A. Quayum, International Islamic University Malaysia

Mohammad A. Quayum is Professor of English at International Islamic University Malaysia and Honorary Professor of English and Creative Writing at Flinders University, Australia. He has published 32 books and numerous articles in the areas of American Literature, Postcolonial Literatures and Bengali Literature. Quayum is also a well-known translator who has translated the works of Tagore, Kazi Nazrul Islam and Begum Rokeya. He is the Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief of Asiatic: An International Journal of Asian Literatures, Cultures and Englishes.