New book Dream Du’a Do, from UAE publishing house The Dreamwork Collective, has humble beginnings: it was born when Al Ain resident Ruzina Ahad received a notebook as a gift from her husband in December 2019, and started jotting down the hopes and dreams she had for the coming decade. Along with her aspirations, she took note of du’as, or prayers, that could help her to achieve these goals.
“As I flipped through the pages of my journal, I realised it was a really good concept for a book, especially for the type of book that I wanted to read,” Ahad tells The National. “Growing up, I never had a book like Dream Du’a Do to ease me into practising Islam, so it motivated me to write one for my children.”
Fast forward two years, and what started out as a family project will now have a far wider reach. Dream Du’a Do, which will be released on November 23, encourages gratitude, goal-building and self-reflection for women from a framework of faith.
At a time when conscious journaling is trending, Dream Du'a Do is a uniquely curated option for the modern, multifaceted Muslim woman. Ahad’s colloquial writing style combines nods to pop culture with deeper religious ideals, all while speaking about faith in a non-preachy tone that’s engaging and relatable.
Throughout the book, Quranic quotes are interwoven with inspirational messages and wisdom from Ahad’s experiences. She is trained in sociology, education and leadership and has worked as a teacher, in the UK and the UAE, for more than a decade. From start to finish, she spent two years writing the book and a considerable chunk of it was completed during the pandemic.
“Writing during the pandemic was a cathartic experience; it really helped me to take stock of everything I had learnt so far,” she says.
Once it became clear that Dream Du’a Do would be a fully fledged book, Ahad made sure she had a focused primary target market in mind.
“I even named her Mya the Millennial Muslimah,” she says. “Mya is someone who is ‘woke’, intelligent and curious. She loves to share personal photos of her food, travels and workouts at the gym, but she also loves to share her opinions about politics and marginalised communities as well as pop culture. Although she loves social media, fashion, lip-synching along to her favorite song and going out for the occasional shisha with her mates, she is also a deeply reflective soul. She loves reading self-development books, listening to podcasts and learning about Islam, and is on the quest of self-improvement.”
The book’s youthful vibe and upbeat energy are evident from its cover, which reveals a telling subheading: “A millennial Muslimah’s guide to achieving her wildest dreams.”
One chapter is titled “Did God just ghost me?” In it, Ahad urges readers to remain patient and steadfast in prayer, reminding them that “Du’a isn’t like placing an order on Amazon Prime”.
“Journaling gives us the opportunity to reflect. Just like we can use it to prepare and manifest our goals in this world, we can use it to achieve our ultimate goals of attaining paradise,” she explains. “Scientifically it has also been proven that dreams or goals are most likely to be achieved once they are written down.”
Dream Du’a Do is a refreshing departure from the traditional Islamic literature targeting women. “One of the biggest reasons why I found it hard to practice Islam when I was young was that Islamic books were dry, hardcore and difficult to spiritually digest. Moreover when I attended Islamic circles, the majority of them seemed to reduce Islam to a set of rules and regulations, harams and halals or dos and don’ts,” explains Ahad.
“Islam is a religion for the curious, we are not supposed to accept things blindly, rather we are encouraged to look around us and reflect on the wonders and Greatness of God,” says Ahad, who is part of a growing movement of Muslim women who champion the faith’s inherent endorsement of female empowerment. She hopes that her work will help to propel more Muslim women into the workforce, in diverse roles and fields.
“There are so many industries out there that are painfully lacking representation from us – they are all waiting to see women just like us shatter stereotypes and glass ceilings in order to make way for new history,” she says.
An important element of the book is the spotlight it puts on present-day female Muslim role models – such as Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad, Halimah Yacob, the first female president of Singapore and hijab-wearing ballerina Stephanie Kurlow, to name a few.
“They are all examples of the fact that no dream is impossible. If you can dream it, you can do it.”