'Big Little Steps motivated me to pray regularly'

Big Little Steps motivated me to pray regularly
Hafsa Lodi

Reading books with Hafsa Lodi, Author of Modesty: A Fashion Paradox out in March 2020

What are you reading now?
I'm about to start reading Unashamed: Musings of a Fat, Black Muslim by plus-sized hijabi model and social media personality Leah Vernon.

A book that changed your life and shaped your outlook?
Last month's read, Big Little Steps, written by Dubai resident Mathilde Loujayne, was inspiring. It's a lighthearted guidebook to practising Islam, packed with lots of knowledge and research about how certain traditions and rulings apply to women in particular. It also offers advice on balancing religious doctrine revealed in the 7th century, with 21st century lifestyles. It motivated me to return to praying regularly - or at least, trying my best to.

Who would you consider a memorable literary character?
Most fresh in my mind is the protagonist Zaytuna, from The Lover: A Sufi Mystery by Laury Silvers, which is set in medieval Baghdad. Daughter of a deceased Sufi female mystic, Zaytuna eschews all of the luxuries life has to offer, earns her keep by doing her neighbours' laundry, wears drab clothing and eats simply - sometimes having broth from a bone that has no meat on it. She does this all out of choice and out of her resilient conviction to forsaking worldly pleasures.
A book that you believe is underrated?
Lauren Shields' book, The Beauty Suit, chronicles her nine-month experiment with dressing modestly, and it's an extremely enlightening read. She questions conventional societal norms about beauty and fashion.

Your favourite book quote
"I woke up to the fact that I was a feminist slowly, and then all at once," wrote Egyptian-British journalist Alya Mooro in The Greater Freedom: Life of a Middle Eastern Woman Outside the Stereotypes. It's similar to my own complicated relationship with the word "feminist".
- As told to Maheshpreet Kaur Narula

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