You may know that interfaith relations is something near and dear to my heart. My BA is in Peace and Conflict, and for my MA, I went to India for six months to study interfaith relations in one of the most religiously diverse places in the world. It is a sadness to me when people who have so many things in common allow the differences to prevent us from reaching our human goals. For this reason, I am so incredibly pleased to interview Saadia Faruqi on the blog today. Her work as an interfaith activist and intentional writer lights up my heart.

Interview with Saadia Faruqi

Tell us a little about you.

I am a Pakistani American writer living in Houston. I was born and raised in Pakistan and immigrated to the U.S. a couple of years before 9/11. Much of my experience in this country has been the post 9/11 experience that immigrants, brown people and Muslims in particular have had to go through, and are still going through. This motivated me to delve into interfaith activism, and over the last decade or more I’ve been organizing interfaith dialogue events, training law enforcement and other groups, and writing articles about faith. It’s been an exciting and fulfilling time so far.

When and why did you start writing?

I have been writing since I was a child. In Pakistan I would write short stories in English, based mostly on the British children’s books I consumed all the time. I was also really interested in English literature and the greats like Shakespeare, Dickens and others. But then I grew up, and college, marriage and work interrupted my writing dreams. I did however write non-fiction and still do. I write non-fiction for a number of publications and also write grant proposals for nonprofit organizations. I started writing fiction very recently, mainly because I was getting burnt out writing non-fiction and wasn’t really seeing the results in terms of getting my message heard. Facts and statistics don’t convince people as much as stories do, which is why I decided to write stories.

Why did you choose to write your novel?

I needed a way to remove media stereotypes of Muslims in general and Pakistanis in particular. I wanted to showcase the reality behind Pakistan’s complicated politics and culture. So I decided to write a short story collection based in that country. It’s called Brick Walls: Tales of Hope & Courage from Pakistan and it focuses on the reality there without resorting to stereotypes. It is available from Amazon here.

If there is one thing you’d want people to do after reading this book, what would it be?

I’d like my readers to go and read another book about another country or another culture. I want them to continue reading literature that shakes their preconceived ideas and gives them new and hopefully uplifting information. I’d like them to go forward on this journey of discovery

What is the best way to connect with you online?

My website (check it out here) has links to my non-fiction articles and more information about Brick Walls. I am also on Facebook and Twitter.

Going From Here

Please get a copy of Saadia’s book and check out her other work on her website. She’s doing some awesome and inspiring things. Then after reading Brick Walls, if interfaith understanding speaks to you, get a copy of my curriculum and devotional for you and your community!

What do you think about using literature to increase understanding? What do you think about interfaith understanding? Leave a comment below!

Intentional Writer Interview: Saadia Faruqi
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