Judges announced for 2019 competition

We are delighted to announce the judges of the 2019 Young Muslim Writers Awards are as follows:


Abubakr Al-Shamahi is a British-Yemeni television and multimedia journalist, with a focus on explaining not just what is in the news, but why it is happening. He has reported from across the world, with a special focus on the Middle East. Abubakr has worked for TRT World, The New Arab, and the BBC, and has written for the Guardian and Vice, as well as providing commentary for Al-Jazeera English.



Ahmed Jafferali Versi is the publisher and editor of The Muslim News. Ahmed has interviewed world leaders including the late President of Bosnia Herzegovina, Alija Izetbegovic, the late Aslan Maskhadov of Chechnya, Prime Ministers of the United Kingdom, the Rt. Hon. Tony Blair, the Rt. Hon. David Cameron and the Rt. Hon. Theresa May, and HRH The Prince of Wales. During the first Gulf War, Ahmed was part of a British Muslim delegation to Jordan, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia mediating for the release of British hostages. In March 2000, Ahmed launched The Muslim News Awards for Excellence celebrating Muslim achievements. He established the Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation and was until recently Deputy President of the International Islamic Women’s Games. A regular speaker at international conferences covering Islamic issues at the local and global level, Ahmed focuses on media representation. Ahmed was awarded Honorary Doctorate of Arts in recognition of achievements as Editor of The Muslim News from University of Bedfordshire in 2007.



Annum Salman is the debut author of her poetry book Sense Me which revolves around the theme of identity; encompassing topics such as gender inequality, mental health, race, culture, and love. Born and bred in Pakistan, Annum completed her MA in creative writing from the University of Surrey. She is a renowned spoken word poet in Pakistan as well as in the UK having had featured shows at That’s What She Said, Dorking is Talking, Woking Literary Lightbox Festival, Nottingham Poetry Festival, SpeakEasy Soho and The Surrey New Writers Festival.



Asmaa Hussein is an author and entrepreneur. She is most well known for her book A Temporary Gift: Reflections on Love, Loss, and Healing, a memoir of her experiences wrestling with faith and patience after the death of her husband in 2013. In 2015 Asmaa founded Ruqaya’s Bookshelf, a publishing company focused on producing children’s books featuring strong Muslim characters. Since then, she has written and published numerous children’s books including family favourites Bismillah Soup (2015), Mr. Gamal’s Gratitude Glasses (2018), and Who Will Help Me Make Iftar? (2019).



Brian Patten was born in Liverpool. Aged sixteen he edited and produced the magazine underdog in which many of the iconic poems in Penguin Modern Classic’s ground breaking anthology, The Mersey Sound, first appeared. His many books include Selected Poems (Penguin) and The Collected Love Poems (Harper Perennial). His latest collection is The Book of Upside Down Thinking, a gift book of verse based on 10th century Middle Eastern folk tales that uses humour to “rattle the cage of conventional thinking.” He has been honoured with the Freedom of the City of Liverpool and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.


Charlie Brinkurst-Cuff is a writer and the head of editorial at gal-dem. She is a former editor at Dazed, and a Guardian freelancer and columnist. Charlie is a Scott Trust Bursary alumnus, and winner of the 2017 Georgina Henry Award for Innovation in Journalism. She is the editor of the book Mother Country: Real Stories of the Windrush Children, a leading new exploration of the Windrush generation featuring David Lammy, Lenny Henry, and Corinne Bailey Rae.



Clare Currie is Poet Laureate for Peterborough. Her work ranges from writing for and performing at events to facilitating workshops and writing for the stage. She was writer-in-residence at Metal Southend, performing there as part of the Essex Book Festival. Clare has performed alongside artists including Mark Grist and Ross Sutherland and has worked on a number of theatre projects, including pieces for Eastern Angles and Jumped Up Theatre, in collaboration with Battersea Arts. Clare was awarded Arts Council funding to develop her creative practice, working on her solo theatre piece Cold Snaps, which centres around being a sports woman and a mother. Her writing has been described as image-packed and lyrical and often centres on the visceral nature of being embodied as a female.



Faima Bakar is a lifestyle journalist at Metro.co.uk and covers all the fun stuff including beauty, fashion, and health. She has a passion for feature-writing on issues of race, culture, religion, and gender. Faima has written nearly 2,000 articles and hopes to raise the status of underserved communities whose stories often go untold.



Hafsah Aneela Bashir is a Manchester based poet and playwright with an MA in Postcolonial Literary and Culture from the University of Leeds. She is founder and co-director of the arts collective, Outside The Frame Arts, which is passionate about platforming voices outside the mainstream. Hafsah works with marginalized and underrepresented communities delivering creative writing workshops centred around identity and empowerment. Her debut poetry collection, The Celox And The Clot published by Burning Eye Books, launched in 2018 with Manchester Literature Festival. Previously an Open Exchange Supported Artist with The Royal Exchange Theatre and a ‘Leader of Tomorrow’ with the Artistic Director’s Leadership Programme, she has recently been awarded the prestigious Jerwood Compton Poetry Fellowship 2019-20.



Hibaq Osman is a Somali writer born and based in London. Her work centres largely around women, identity, and the healing process. Her debut poetry pamphlet, A Silence You Can Carry, was published with Out-Spoken Press in 2015. Hibaq works towards a future where funding and access to the arts for people of colour is considered the norm and not an exception. Her next poetry book is due to be released with Jacaranda Books in 2020.



Jazzmine Breary is Sales, Marketing & Publicity Manager at award-winning independent publishing house Jacaranda Books. She has been at Jacaranda since its launch, working closely with founder Valerie Brandes across multiple areas of the business, developing Jacaranda’s award-winning list. In 2015, Jazzmine contributed to the Writing the Future report; her article, Let’s Not Forget explored the legacy of diverse and particularly Black publishing in the UK. She is a regular speaker on issues of diversity and inclusivity in publishing. Her speaking engagements include the British Library’s inaugural M-Fest, the LBF Inclusivity in Publishing Conference, the Bradford Literature Festival, and more. She has been featured in The Voice newspaper, Actual Size magazine, on BBC Radio London’s Dotun Adebayo Show, The Beat London, and more recently BBC Radio Gloucestershire. She has been a mentor on the MA in Publishing at Kingston University and served on the committee of Women in Publishing UK from 2012-2014.



Jonathan Ruppin founded The Ruppin Agency in 2017, with a particular focus on authors from underrepresented backgrounds. His clients include Graeme Armstrong, Sally Morgan, Dr. Jude Piesse, Richard Zimler, and Devika Ponnambalam. He spent nearly two decades in book retail, working for chains and independent bookstores, as well as working for publishers and literary agents. Jonathan has been a judge of numerous literary awards, including the Costa Novel Award, the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Award, the Desmond Elliott Prize, and the Romantic Novelists’ Association awards. His journalism encompasses television, radio, and print, including The Bookseller magazine’s Paperback Preview, and he has interviewed authors at the Southbank Centre and Foyles.



Kareem Parkins-Brown is from North West London. He is a Barbican Poet Alumni and the 2019 Roundhouse Poetry Slam winner. He has collaborated with The Barbican Centre and Tate Britain.



Kate Wakeling grew up in Yorkshire and Birmingham. Her debut collection of poems for children, Moon Juice (illustrated by Elīna Brasliņa and published by The Emma Press) won the 2017 CLiPPA and was nominated for the 2018 Carnegie Medal. Kate’s poetry for adults has been published widely, including a pamphlet The Rainbow Faults (The Rialto), and in the Guardian, The Forward Book of Poetry 2016 (Faber & Faber) and The Best British Poetry 2014 (Salt). Kate is writer-in-residence with Aurora Orchestra and her storytelling concerts for family audiences have been performed widely, including at Wigmore Hall, the Southbank Centre, the bOing! Festival, the Melbourne Festival, the Festival Sesc de Música de Câmara in Brazil and on BBC Radio 3. Kate also writes regularly for the Times Literary Supplement and BBC Music Magazine.



Khaleel Muhammad is an internationally recognised nasheed artist with appearances spanning Europe, Asia, North America, and Africa, and has produced four videos and three albums – Heaven, Dhikr of Life, and The Adventures of Hakim. He has appeared in several television shows, adverts, and the Disney film Cinderella, and was also a television presenter on numerous programmes. He is the radio presenter of the double award-winning Kids Round Show on Inspire 105.1FM. Khaleel is the author of the children’s book Muslim All-Stars, and he has recently self-published the sequel, Muslim All-Stars Monster Mayhem. Khaleel is also a designer and illustrator for the children’s books Allah’s Amazing Messenger by S. J. Sear, and his own Muslim Family Colouring Book which is now in its second revised edition.


Mohamed Mohamed is a British-Somali poet based in London. He is Founder of the (un)Heard Words,  a project focused on using poetry as a tool for interfaith engagement. Mohamed often explores the topic of faith, identity, politics, and masculinity in his poems. Mohamed’s poems have been commissioned and featured in FreeWord, Apples and Snakes, Roundhouse, Buzzfeed UK, and local and national radio.



Molly Rosenberg has worked at The Royal Society of Literature for ten years and, as Director, oversees the Society’s business and creative strategy. She is thrilled to be working towards the RSL’s 2020 bicentenary with RSL staff and trustees on a number of new programmes, showing how much Literature Matters. Molly has previously worked at the Royal Opera House and Southbank Centre, and as an independent researcher. She holds an MPhil in Irish Writing from Trinity College Dublin and is currently completing her PhD at King’s College London, where her doctoral thesis examines the relationship between contemporary Irish poetry, nation, and the poetics of the trace.



Nafisa Bakkar, is the CEO of Amaliah, a media company amplifying the voices of Muslim women, and of Halal Gems, a halal food discovery platform. Nafisa’s essay on the representation of Muslims in media and advertising was published in It’s Not About the Burqa (Picador). Nafisa’s work has also been published in AdAge, Campaign Magazine, the Independent and Forbes. In 2019 Nafisa was awarded AdAge’s ‘One to Watch’ and listed as one of London’s most influential people in media.



Na’ima B Robert was inspired by visits to the local library and started writing children’s books when her eldest son was a baby. Her ambition was to write beautiful, creative books about Muslim life that would foster pride and pleasure in young Muslim readers. She has since published over twenty books for children and young adults, including The Swirling Hijaab (Mantra Books), Ramadan Moon (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books) and Going to Mecca (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books), and the acclaimed YA novel, Far from Home (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books), winner of a Muslim Writers Award and the Children’s Africana Book Award, as well as the ‘halal romance’ classic, She Wore Red Trainers (Kube Publishing). Among her forthcoming children’s books are a collaboration with Mufti Menk and a book on Islamophobia with Hachette.



Nasima Begum is a poet, producer and creative practitioner. She is currently the Youth Development Lead/ Acting Coordinator for the Manchester Bangladeshi Women’s Organisation. She is a trustee of Young Identity and has been a member of the collective since 2013. She has also worked with HOME, Royal Exchange Theatre, Contact Theatre and The Lowry. Nasima has performed at BBC’s poetry festival Contains Strong Language, Hay Festival, Manchester Literature Festival, and the British Councils BritLitBerlin conference. Nasima’s most recent residency included Project Lockdown for Belgium’s infamous Museum Nacht, where she spent 24 hours with 14 artists in a museum space making performance work. She has taught poetry with primary and secondary school children nationally and internationally through various projects. Most recently, Nasima was involved in the Manchester International Festival as one of six Greater Manchester artists selected for the Jerwood Arts Creative Fellowship in which she observed a large scale production, and was also commissioned to make work for.


Roopa Farooki is the author of six critically acclaimed novels (The Good Children, The Flying Man, Half Life, The Way Things Look to Me, Corner Shop, and Bitter Sweets) published with Headline and Macmillan. She has been shortlisted for the Orange Award for New Writers and the Muslim Writers’ Awards, and has also been longlisted for the Women’s Prize (twice), the DSC South Asian Literature Prize, and the Impac Dublin Literary Award. Her books have been published internationally in thirteen countries across Europe, and in the US. She was awarded the John C. Laurence Prize from the Authors’ Foundation for writing which improves understanding between races, and an Arts Council Literature award. She lectures on the Creative Writing Masters at the University of Oxford, and is a recently qualified Junior Doctor, working for the NHS in Kent and London. Following her 2016 shortlisting for the Commonword Prize for Children’s Fiction, Roopa is currently working on diverse fiction for young people. Her new series, The Double Detectives Medical Mysteries, featuring Asian girls as heroes, will be coming out with Oxford University Press in January 2020.



Saadia Faruqi is a Pakistani American author, essayist and interfaith activist. She writes the children’s early reader series Yasmin, published by Capstone, and other books for children including middle grade novels A Place At The Table (HMH/Clarion, 2020) co-written with Laura Shovan, and A Thousand Questions (Harper Collins, 2020). She has also written Brick Walls: Tales of Hope & Courage from Pakistan a short story collection for adults and teens. Saadia is editor-in-chief of Blue Minaret, a magazine for Muslim art, poetry and prose, and was featured in Oprah Magazine in 2017 as a woman making a difference in her community.



Sameer Rahim is Arts and Books editor of Prospect Magazine. Previously he worked for seven years on the Books Desk of the Daily Telegraph, and has written for many publications including the New York Times and the Guardian. His novel, Asghar and Zahra (JM Originals), was published in June 2019.



SF Said is a British Muslim author of Middle Eastern background. He was born in Beirut, and has lived in London since he was two years old. His first book, Varjak Paw, won the Nestlé Smarties Prize for Children’s Literature. It has sold over half a million copies worldwide and has been translated into more than a dozen languages. The sequel, The Outlaw Varjak Paw, won the BBC Blue Peter Book Of The Year; while his third book, Phoenix, represents the UK on the IBBY International Honour Book List, and was shortlisted for the Guardian Children’s Fiction Award, and nominated for both the Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medals. SF Said has written widely on children’s and young adult literature for both the Guardian and The Daily Telegraph.



Shahida Rahman is a Cambridge based award-winning author, writer, publisher, and public speaker. Her highly acclaimed historical novel, Lascar was published in 2012. In its unpublished form, Lascar was shortlisted for the Muslim Writers Awards’ Unpublished Novel Award in 2008. An audio play based on her second novel; India Ink will be released in 2020. Shahida also published two children’s books, Rani Goes to the Mela and Rani and the Wedding Shoes. The third instalment in the Rani series will be published in 2020. Shahida has contributed articles on South Asian history and a range of social issues to numerous publications, including Best of British, The Great War, SISTERS magazine, The Huffington Post, and Asian World.  She is also a regular contributor to BBC local radio programmes. Shahida won a British Muslim Award for ‘Arts and Cultural Awareness’ in 2015. She is also a trustee of the Cambridge Central Mosque.



Sufiya Ahmed is the award-winning author of the young adult novel Secrets of the Henna Girl (Penguin Rando House), which was launched at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London, and has been translated into Arabic, Spanish, and Polish. She is a public speaker on girls’ rights. Sufiya regularly visits secondary schools to deliver author sessions, addressing pupils in over 150 schools, and participates in book festivals. Sufiya also discusses her previous career in the Houses of Parliament to educate and inspire pupils about the democratic process, and explores how her political activism influences her writing. Sufiya is the founder and Director of the BIBI Foundation, a non-profit organisation which arranges visits to the Houses of Parliament for children from underprivileged backgrounds. Her new picture book Under the Great Plum Tree was released in 2019 and is published  by Tiny Owl Publishing. She is also a contributor to It’s Not About the Burqa (Picador) and Ladybird’s Tales of Superheroes.


Sumayya Lee was born in South Africa and has worked as an Islamic Studies teacher, Montessori Directress and Teacher of English as a Foreign Language. Her debut, The Story of Maha (Kwela) was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best First Book – Africa and longlisted for the Sunday Times Fiction Award. She is one of the judges for the 2018 Writivism /Kofi Addo Prize for Creative Non-Fiction and is part of the Advisory Board at Writivism.


Suzanne Antelme was born in south Africa, and raised in the USA and Swtizerland, and now lives in the UK. In 2017, 2018, and 2019 she has been a top fifteen winner of the Foyle Young Poets of the Year Awards, organised by The Poetry Society with her poems One Day, small print, and what are we before we are mothers.  



Tim Robertson became Chief Executive of The Anne Frank Trust in 2018. He is passionate about Anne Frank’s Diary as both a great work of literature and a springboard for social education. This builds on two strands from Tim’s career – literature/the arts and social change. Tim studied English and American Literature at university in London and New York, and was Director of the Royal Society of Literature from 2015 to 2018. Previously, Tim spent 9 years leading significant growth as Chief Executive of the Koestler Trust, Britain’s national charity for arts by prisoners. Tim began his career as a child protection social worker in the London Borough of Camden, and set up the borough’s Sure Start programmes for families in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. He is now Chair of Governors at Regent High, a Camden secondary school.


Tuscany Bernier is from Indiana, USA, and is a writer, public speaker, and spiritual counsellor. Tuscany graduated with her Associate’s Degree in Islamic Studies from Mishkah University in 2017 and received her certificate from Tayseer Seminary in 2018. She is passionate about cultural diversity and women’s studies. Tuscany spoke at the Women’s Mosque of America in December 2016 and at the Women in Leadership Institute at Purdue University in 2017 and in 2019. She has been featured on The Tempest, Amaliah, SeekersGuidance, and AboutIslam, and has published a book on religious rulings related to women’s health.


Yasmin Rahman was born and raised in Hertfordshire. Her debut YA novel, All The Things We Never Said, was published in 2019 by Hot Key Books. She has an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Hertfordshire and an MA in Writing for Young People from Bath Spa University, both with Distinction. Her short story, Fortune Favours the Bold, was published in Stripes’ anthology A Change is Gonna Come in 2017 with the Bookseller awarding the contributors a YA Book Prize Special Achievement Award 2018 for commitment to making YA publishing more inclusive. When she is not writing, Yasmin makes bookish fan art; her designs are sold worldwide on behalf of John Green.


Yassmin Abdel-Magied is a Sudanese-born author, broadcaster and social advocate with a background in mechanical engineering. Yassmin founded her first organisation, Youth Without Borders, at the age of 16, published her debut memoir, Yassmin’s Story, with Penguin Random House at age 24, and followed up with her first fiction book for younger readers, You Must Be Layla, in 2019. Yassmin’s critically acclaimed essays have been published in numerous anthologies, including the Griffith Review, the best-selling It’s Not About The Burqa and New Daughters of Africa. Her words can also be found in publications including The Guardian, Teen Vogue, The New York Times, The Independent, and Glamour.