Writing for a Purpose

Thoughts

Open Letters, Open Hearts

Personal Letters from Muslims to Family, Friends and Others

Working Title: Open Letters, Open Hearts

Narrative Author/Editor: Christine (Amina) Benlafquih

Publisher: An-Najm Publishers, London, UK

Deadline for Submissions: January 31, 2008 (see Guidelines below)

About the Book

The anthology-style Open Letters, Open Hearts will feature heartfelt letters written by Muslims who appeal to their family, friends and others to open their hearts and minds to the message of Islam.

Most of us have been touched and inspired by an emotional piece of writing. Something as simple as a greeting card or as lengthy as a novel can successfully evoke emotion in a reader. Whether raw and direct, or gentle and persuasive, the power of the written word can not be denied. 

Muslims worldwide are invited to use this power and compose open letters which address the people and unique circumstances in their own lives from an Islamic perspective.  Whether differences need to be solved, religious issues explained, or concern expressed about someone’s harmful life choices, a letter allows the writer to convey sincerity and present Islamic values and teachings in a positive, relevant light.

Although Muslims naturally wish for others to recognize the truth of Islam, one of the main objectives of Open Letter, Open Hearts is to appeal to the emotional ties that connect us to family, friends and humanity in general. It is hoped that people of all faiths will find common ground with Muslims through the personal stories and situations revealed in the letters. Inshaa’ Allah, this connection will help open the door to better understanding of Muslims and Islam’s true teachings. 

The Open Letters, Open Hearts project was born of the editor’s desire to meet her personal da’wah obligation and help her non-Muslim family better understand her decision to embrace Islam.  All Muslims have a religious duty to give da’wah (invite others to Islam through teaching or example of good actions).  However, many Muslims are uncomfortable doing so, either due to inhibition or because family and friends aren’t open to such discussion.

Da’wah is not only directed at non-Muslims. Born-Muslims often find themselves dealing with family and friends who either don’t practice the religion at all, or neglect certain aspects of it.

Submitting an open letter to the anthology – and inshaa`Allah directly to the person(s) to whom it is addressed – offers a positive step towards meeting our da’wah obligation.

Submission Guidelines

– Please limit your letter to 1200 words or less.

– Submissions must be in English.  Proofread your letter carefully for spelling and grammar. Poorly written submissions will not be considered.

– You may submit more than one Open Letter, but each letter must be submitted separately.

– Letters may be written to an individual or a group (i.e. an entire family, colleagues, neighbors, etc.).

– Although general content to promote understanding of Islam is acceptable, letters which address very unique, personal situations are most likely to be selected.  For example, a revert to Islam may feel the need to explain his reversion to an angry family member. A born Muslim might want to clarify to her mother why some of her “Islamic” cultural practices are actually not compatible with the true teachings of Islam. Another writer might address a friend’s alcohol or gambling addiction. 

– Open Letters of a political nature or letters which address a vast group of people (i.e. letters addressed to the West, all Americans, world leaders, etc.) will be considered only if the content and message will outlive today’s current events.

– Whatever the letter’s theme, the content must contain relevant and correct Islamic perspective or teaching. Passages from the Holy Qur’an and Ahadeeth should be referenced.

– Write from the heart. Letters with a strong emotional component are highly desired.  References to personal events and family history will help evoke memories and stir emotion in all readers.

– The tone of the letters should be kind, informative and non-judgmental. Hateful or inflammatory language will immediately disqualify a submission.

– Any topic is welcome, as long as the writer successfully relates it to Islam. Possible topics include:

– Culture versus religion

– Comparison of Christianity and Islam

– Explanation of conversion/reversion

– Incompatibility of the Trinity with Islam

– Infinite Mercy of God

– Women in Islam

– Islamic appearance and dress

– Comparison of the Torah, the Bible, and the Qu’ran

– Current events and terrorism

Tawheed and the belief in One God

– Islam’s views of Jesus and Maryam, peace be upon them

– Harmful lifestyle choices and practices

– Polygany

– Concept of submission to Allah

– Non-Muslim and Islamic holidays

– Rights of parents and children

– Tenets of Islam

– Commonalities and differences between Christianity and Islam

Shirk and the association of others with Allah

How to Submit

Submissions must be made electronically by email to OpenLetters.OpenHearts@yahoo.com.  Please write “Submission” in the subject line.  

Include only one submission per email.

Use double spacing and select a 12 pt. Roman font (such as Times New Roman).

Save your document as a Word file (.doc) or Rich Text Format (.rtf) and attach it to the email.  (Please do not copy and paste your submission into the body of the email.)

Include the following information on the first page of your submission.  Copy and paste the header directly into your document.

Your name

Nationality

Email address

City/State/Country of Residence

Introduction

The introduction should be a sentence or short paragraph which offers background to your letter. An example might be: I am an American Muslim convert of 14 years writing a letter to my brother, who is considering converting to Judaism.

Privacy and Anonymity

Your privacy and that of your family and friends is important. If your letter is selected, you will be asked what name you would like to be published under (real name, first name, kunya or pseudonym).  Names, localities, and other details which help identify the addressee(s) will be changed when needed to protect their privacy.

Payment

As this is a da’wah project to promote better understanding of Islam and Muslims, the publisher, editor and contributors will receive no monetary compensation. Writers of letters selected for publication will receive two copies of the printed anthology.

About the Narrative Author/Editor

Christine (Amina) Benlafquih is a freelance writer and the current publications officer of the Islamic Writers Alliance.  A former publications and public relations director, she accepted Islam in 1993. She lives in Morocco with her husband and six children.

Contact Information

If you need more information, please contact the editor at OpenLetters.OpenHearts@yahoo.com.

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4 responses to this post.

  1. wow I would love to write a letter to my familly that is such a lovely idea . when do you think it will be published ?

    Reply

  2. As Salaamu Alaikum Sis Amal, I actually thought of doing this as well. You can email to find out the answer to your question. Try OpenLetters.OpenHearts@yahoo.com and see what their response is.

    Happy writing
    🙂

    Reply

  3. Posted by Amina Benlafquih on November 29, 2007 at 3:14 pm

    Assalamu alaykum…jazaki Allahu khayran Umm Abdurrahman for posting the call to submissions here.

    The publisher and I are hoping to have the book ready by Ramadan 2008 inshaa’ Allah. May Allah subhana wa taala facilitate this effort, ameen.

    Reply

  4. Assalaamu ‘alaikum sisters.

    Just a little notice that the deadline has now been extended to 29th February, inshaa`Allaah.

    Was-salaamu ‘alaikum
    Umm Junayd, An-Najm Publishers.

    Reply

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