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Monday, November 26, 2007

Call for Submissions: Open Letters, Open Hearts

Sister Christine (Amina) Benlafquih is teaming up with An-Najm Publishers to compile a unique anthology of "Personal Letters from Muslims to Family, Friends and Others."

Here are the details of this exciting project:

Call for Submissions
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 letterswritten by Muslims who appeal to their family, friends and others to open theirhearts 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 successfullyevoke emotion in a reader. Whether raw and direct, or gentle and persuasive, thepower of the written word can not be denied.

Muslims worldwide are invited to use this power and compose open letters whichaddress the people and unique circumstances in their own lives from an Islamicperspective. Whether differences need to be solved, religious issues explained,or concern expressed about someone’s harmful life choices, a letter allows thewriter to convey sincerity and present Islamic values and teachings in apositive, 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 theemotional ties that connect us to family, friends and humanity in general. It ishoped that people of all faiths will find common ground with Muslims through thepersonal stories and situations revealed in the letters. Inshaa’ Allah, thisconnection will help open the door to better understanding of Muslims andIslam’s true teachings.

The Open Letters, Open Hearts project was born of the editor’s desire to meether personal da’wah obligation and help her non-Muslim family better understandher 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 becausefamily 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 theperson(s) to whom it is addressed – offers a positive step towards meeting ourda’wah obligation.

Submission Guidelines
- Please limit your letter to 1200 words or less.

- Submissions must be in English. Proofread your letter carefully forspelling and grammar. Poorly written submissions will not be considered.

- You may submit more than one Open Letter, but each letter must be submittedseparately.

- 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 beselected. For example, a revert to Islam may feel the need to explain hisreversion to an angry family member. A born Muslim might want to clarify to hermother why some of her “Islamic” cultural practices are actually not compatiblewith 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 ofpeople (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 correctIslamic perspective or teaching. Passages from the Holy Qur’an and Ahadeethshould 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 toIslam.

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

As this is a da’wah project to promote better understanding of Islam andMuslims, the publisher, editor and contributors will receive no monetarycompensation. Writers of letters selected for publication will receive twocopies of the printed anthology.

About the Narrative Author/Editor

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

Please contact the publisher for details on how to submit a letter to this invaluable anthology.

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This blog is maintained by Amel Abdullah, a freelance writer, editor, and Arabic to English translator.