Success reaches everybody – against all odds, slashing the impossibilities and tearing down the walls of obstacles – provided that you have dedicated your complete self sincerely to the dreams that rest on your eyelids, dreams which your heart owns and can’t breathe without.
One name that comes up when thinking of accomplishment of dreams is that of Zeneefa Zaneer, the author of the impressive book – ‘Nothing but Love.’
A Writer’s Journey
Zeneefa’s journey, when retraced, is a source of great inspiration. At the tender age of 9, when most are busy with dolls and cartoons, she began her relationship with the pen, painting her imagination on her creative canvas. It is no surprise then that by the age of 16 she had already completed her first novel. Contradicting the adage of the ‘confused teenager’, she was already taking calculated steps towards her goal and passion. With time, her writing matured and refined, and the positive impact of faith reflected in her contributions ranging from local newspapers to magazines, from websites to plethora of short stories, poetry and novels.
Founder of the successful “IiWords” online magazine, she provided many budding writers with a spectacular platform and a refreshing freedom to express their emotions and their hidden stories. Mother of three young children, her tale leaves a trail of motivation for all young writers and thinkers. Her dream of becoming a published author was realised with the publication of Sinhala novelette, “Poodinna Idadenna”, (Trans: Let me Bloom), a voice of an unborn child. Following this literary success, in 2009 “Senehase Ridmaya”, (Trans: the Rhythm of Love), was published by Taraka Publishers. Many more of her novels were subsequently published under the aegis of IiWords magazine.
Perhaps her biggest contribution has been towards the much needed but scarcely touched genre of ‘halal’ fiction. Our youth craves entertainment and outlet for their feelings, and they shouldn’t be denied their need. In this age where love is presented as an immature, shameless, uncontrolled, sugarcoated, hormonal sensation by daily soap operas, web series, and movies; being able to read about dignified romance and powerful emotions without the slightest trace of vulgarity or indecency, guided by the beautiful principles of Islam, warms the senses and opens up an option that Muslim readers hardly had access to.
Sister Zeneefa has finally published her latest offering in this genre titled ‘Nothing But Love’ and the readers are hooked and so is the team at Ink of Faith!
Nothing But Love: A Review
Nothing but Love is the coming together of two wounded, confused and broken personalities; starkly different, yet inexplicably right together. This is a tale of the subtle and courageous Barakah and charming yet fiercely arrogant Amash (whom the reader may be tempted to punch many times during the story).
Set in the country of Sri Lanka, with vivid descriptions of the land and its culture, the story revolves around complexities and hardships they face, reflective of their individual pasts and stories. Barakah’s trials moisten your eyes from the get go. Though essentially a poignant love story, it deals with a wide range of issues with touching sensitivity – childhood trauma, parental conflict, heartbreaks and failed relationships, the trials of marriage and the subsequent journey towards peace – this rollercoaster makes you feel deeply for the protagonist, while keeping you on the edge of your seat by the rebellious Amash.
In Barakah we find a Muslimah, a role model, a warrior who has battled fierce storms without embittering her soul. Her morals, modesty, mannerisms, wit and self esteem will surprise you at every turn. From a tattered past to a threatening future where she has to make a soul wrenching choice, her soulful journey is a joy to read. Should she marry a cynical, haughty man or cause tremendous harm to a beloved friend at the hands of a vicious Mrs. Yahya?
An independent, educated and deeply practicing Muslimah, Barakah is not inclined to Amash from their first encounter, a scene where you can literally sense the fire! On the other hand, the arrogant and exasperating Amash leaves no stone unturned to put her down, spitting negativity and immaturity at every step. With simplicity and aplomb, Zeneefa is deftly able to sketch the vast difference between the two. In Amash, we see the embodiment of implulsiveness, anger and rebellion – the result of a hurtful and secret past he nurses. He jibes her faith and taunts her for wearing the veil. In Barakah’s impeccable attitude and confident response, we see the breaking of chains and stigma of oppression that the modern world thinks the Muslimah is caged in forever. And yet, it is credit to the author that the reader is able to empathise with both the characters, and understand where they are coming from.
There is a mix of very interestingly carved out characters and descriptions – the spoilt siblings, the sly nightmarish villain, sumptious descriptions of Sri Lankan culture, food and traditions (that makes you crave for a Tamilian adventure!), marvellous reflective narrations, illustrations of nature that breathe real life into the scenery – its all in here!
Slightly predictable in its storyline, the story tends to lose pace in the middle. However, it never loses the plot and picks up speed again as we near the end. The author weaves multiple themes within the story and the transitions are graceful and feel right.
Barakah’s reflective inner voice conveys to us her predicaments, while the twists and turns keep us rooting for the couple to find solace within each other. Where does the story of our complex and interesting couple lead to? Does Mrs. Yahya, the patent villain, succeed in her spitefulness? Does the power of faith, redemption and dignity of a Muslimah save the day? There’s only one way to find out – pick up a copy today!
A Wonderful Contribution
Whether you cheer for Amash, the evil to soften up for Barakah, the wonderful or not, this book in particular and the author’s wider work in general, is a wonderful contribution to the genre of Islamic fiction and literature. Not only is the work of a fine quality, eloquence and humor, it also breaks a lot of stereotypes related to practicing Muslimahs, and their struggle for self-worth and honor, in a world that repeatedly questions their abilities and strengths on the basis of their hijab or niqaab.
This saga with a tinge of romance, love, betrayal, trauma, departures and redemption is something that everyone can relate to. It is a wonderful venture to reach out to a wider audience about the beauty of Islam through a unique and creative approach.
Have you already read the book? If yes, drop in your feedback in the comments section below and let us know how was the reading experience for you. If not, pre-order your copy on Amazon now! To know more about the inspirational Zeneefa Zaneer, curb all your curiosity in a click – http://thinkaholicmom.com/
Review By: Muslimah Poetess
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