The Book Club is the first ever regular YC event I attended. I’m the stereotypical introverted artist-writer kind of person who’d rather read or draw than share common space with other humans. I’d just taken a gap year after 12th grade to try and figure out what my complicated self should do next. So when I dragged myself out of the house to attend this circle a few minutes’ drive away in Islamabad, I didn’t really know what to expect.
I was directed to the basement by the friendly volunteer. With the bag holding my copy of Allah Loves slung over my shoulder, I clanked down the metal staircase and slipped in. It was…kind of dark at first. But then I turned the corner and there was the Book Club room.
I have to admit, I was…impressed. It looked like something straight out of an instagram post, with fairy lights strung up, adorable circular cushions, even a photocard moodboard.
There were a handful of sisters, to begin with, and it was obvious they all knew each other from before. When introductions began, I was – a bit awed, to be honest. They all had talents and impressive goals, an artist, a baker, a lawyer, med student – I wondered if I would be able to fit in. We agreed to go with the format of reading the book together.
‘Allah Loves’ is a short yet comprehensive book by Omer Sulaiman. The book was written simple and easy to read. Each chapter gave an overview of a quality that Allah Loves, and the Book Club moderator gave us a tip that it actually flowed quite uniquely by grouping the chapters by three.
Starting off with the chapters on Piety, Repentance and Excellence, it goes ahead to cover Independence and Healthy Pride as well – which were by far my favorites – and finish off with traits like Acceptance of His Gifts and Beauty.
But the book would never have had the same impact on me without the special group of sisters I got to meet every Friday. As some of the participants put it, it was our weekly therapy session. Instead of only reading off paper, we’d discuss our real-life problems with each other, or share memories that we felt rang true with a certain quality. I also asked for advice – probably more than once. I’ve always found it difficult to ‘open up’, and yet every time these familiar faces turned to me when I spoke, I felt…safer, calmer. Despite my initial awe, here they were – people like me, struggling with the same things, wanting to push themselves to that next step in being better Muslims and better human beings. I wasn’t the strange stand-out, lone niqabi in the group anymore.
I was personally struggling with self-development in those days, but as I got to know our little group, seeing how diligent and hardworking everyone was inspired me. It was a weekly reminder that I should also keep trying to improve and push myself ahead. Oh, and there were really good cookies every time too – but…uh, definitely not the only reason why I was so regular!
I felt like it was a precious and refreshing experience. It was actually through this circle that I eventually volunteered for the amazing YC Blog team, which Alhamdulillah is definitely one of the best results of these sessions. In Sha Allah, the book club will be doing a re-run soon – and it would be great if you could join us for this one!
The author and Youth Club do not endorse Yaqeen Institute’s or Omer Suleiman’s literature or views unconditionally.