Posts Tagged ‘muslim youth


Sneak Peak & Behind the Scences of My Play “Crowned”


I have an exciting announcement: will be publishing my original play “Crowned” on their website!  The play will be published in its entirety, but it will be posted in installments every Wednesday for the next 4 weeks inshaAllah.

So I wanted to give you guys an exclusive sneak peak of my favorite scene from the play and a behind the scenes look before it comes out in a few days inshaAllah!

Behind the Scenes

Introduce your play “Crowned” for us, what’s it about?

“Crowned” is about 2 best friends who are in their senior year of high school, and the story that unfolds from the main character’s decision to run for Prom Queen.  There is also a sub-plot for the main character’s older sister, which is about her dealing with a prospective suitor.

What is the take-home message you’d like to communicate to your readers?

At the end of this play, I would like for the audience to know that being a strong Muslim and a good person is a process in which there are many steps that you take–it’s not just an overnight transformation! It takes time and effort and sacrifice to establish yourself as that person.  Also, be firm in your identity and don’t let Islam take the back seat in who you are and who you present yourself to be to others.

What are some of the goals you hope to accomplish with this play?  

I’d like to be able to use this play as a platform for addressing important issues which test Muslim youth in America, specifically girls.  If there is one essential theme and message to this play it would be identity, how a young American Muslim grows up and tries to figure out who they are and how to stick to their religion while doing so.  I hope to be able to spark some thought and dialogues about the touchy, yet crucial, issues which I present in the play.

Why did you write the play?

I wrote the play originally because I was asked to write it for a local Southern California organization called Muslimah Entertainment.  It is an organization which allows Muslim girls and young adults in the community to celebrate the arts.  One of its biggest events is the annual production of an original play.  They were looking for someone to write the play for last year’s production, and they happened to ask me and although I was hesitant at first, I accepted the challenge.

How did you decide on what the play was going to be about?

That was the hard part.  I didn’t know what to write about, but what I knew was that I really wanted it to mean something, and that I wanted this to count as ibadah/an act of worship.  I started by considering my audience, which are mostly high school students from the Orange County area, so I wanted to write a play for them.  I also looked at what I had written in the past, and drew inspiration from my piece “In His Eyes,” which has already been published on MM.  My younger sister was also a senior in high school at the time, and it was around Homecoming season–so, go figure.

How long did it take you?

The bulk of the writing took me 5 months; but, the truth is that it was more like a process that had started in August of 2010 when I was first asked to write it, and it’s kind of been an on-going project since then.

How did the play come together?

I sat there and just wrote, a lot of it was next to my fireplace.  I didn’t really know what I was doing and how to start.  I wrote out a general idea of the plot line while deciding on the characters, and then I wrote whatever scenes came to me the easiest, so they weren’t written in chronological order.  There were a few scenes which were burned into my mind and I wrote those out first and tried to establish a footing and flow for the play.  There was one scene which I didn’t actually end up finishing until this last March, that one was bothering me forever.

What were some of the challenges you faced as a writer?

Scale, this play is a massive story; and moving the story along through the use of dialogue.

Tell us about the characters, and who’s your favorite?

Fatima is the main character.  She has a best friend, a cousin, an older sister, a kid sister, and a mom.  I tried to match the characters with the range of the audience members, so I got the younger kids, high schoolers, college students, and mothers.  It worked out well.  I also like having the characters in different stages of their lives because it adds a little spice to the play with additional sub-plots.

My favorite character is Top Swordfish.  He is a minor character, almost the narrator, but I love his personality.  If I chose one character to play myself, it would be him.

How much is this play based on reality or things that you’ve experienced yourself?  How personal is this play?

I actually didn’t realize how much I had borrowed from my own life in writing this play until I had to revisit it last month to get it edited up into publishing shape for Muslim Matters.  I’m not saying that I ran for Prom Queen, or even wanted to, or anything, but I borrowed the characters from my own life or people that I knew and embellished them.  The interesting thing is that there’s a progression of the characters’ personalities (just like the story is a progression).  They are people from different phases in my life that I have experienced for the last 8 years.  So, yes, I took the characters from a shade of my own reality, but the story is not mine.  I let my imagination run a little bit and I definitely took it to the next level.  When I read the play, I feel like I know, or that I even am, the characters, but that I haven’t experienced/lived their stories in my own life.

Was the play actually performed?

Unfortunately, no! </3 We held auditions, we casted the play, we even held a few rehearsals, but so many complications came up during the process, like venue and budget, that it kept us from getting to the final production.  My dream is to be able to see this play one day inshaAllah, so I’m hoping that someone out there decides to start a new project for their youth group or MSA.  The script is totally up for grabs, so I hope someone takes advantage of it!  I would love to travel to see it inshaAllah!  I’m interested to see how my imagination would be able to play out in a construct of real-time & space.

Why is this play important to you?

I hope that this play reaches hundreds of youth, especially ones that might be able to benefit from its messages.  Also, as an aspiring writer, this play really pushed me to try something completely new and far-fetched.  One of my long-term goals is to publish fiction works that are relevant and a healthy alternative for American Muslim youth, so “Crowned” is one of the first and biggest steps on my journey.


Sneak Peak!

An excerpt from Scene One, Part Two.

[Samina and Fatima are eating lunch in art room and painting, talking about Samina’s portraitJehan walks by.]

Fatima: Samina!  Girl, bio was disgusting today.  We had to dissect a brain and now I smell like brain juice.  I was starving before but I think I lost my appetite.

Samina:  If you’re not gonna eat it, let me have a look at your lunch. [comes over]  Those pears look pretty good.  [pause, sniffing] Ew, gross. You DO smell like brain juice. [fake wretching]


Fatima:  [snatching bag away] You know what?  I don’t even really like pears, but that comment really cost you.  I was gonna give them to you, but you smell like….paint….juice. [voice dying and ending pathetically.  Sam laughs.]

Samina:  Speaking of paint juice, do you wanna see my last piece for the art showcase?

Fatima:  Yeah!  Show it to me!  What’s your last piece, what’s the crowning jewel of your collection?  How’s it coming along?

Samina:  Ms.  Mitchell wanted me to paint a self-portrait, she thought it would be a great way to top my portfolio off–give it the finishing touch!  But I wasn’t sure about painting myself, because you know the whole thing about you’re not supposed to draw people or something…well I don’t really know,  so this is what I decided to do instead.  [Turns canvas around. Painting is blocks of different shades of browns, you can tell it’s unfinished.]

Fatima:  Ahahahahh!  It’s just brown squares!  Genius…

Fatima&Samina: …absolutely genius. [explosion of laughter]

Samina:  I know.  See, this way I get away with not having to draw a person and it’s true to my abstract style.  AND Ms. Mitchell loves this interpretive stuff, so she’ll be impressed.  She’ll probably say something like—

Fatima:  “Woah, now that is art, I can sense the emotion in that one.  Or—“

Samina:  “Just brimming with teenage angst!  And the Modern twist!”

Fatima:  “These tan splotches…so deep…It’s all how you see yourself, not how anyone else defines you.  A mirror doesn’t always show you who you really are, especially when you’re looking with your eyes closed.  These tan splotches are truly a mark of talent!”

Fatima&Samina: “I LOVE IT!” [laughing]

Fatima:  I can’t wait to see it when it’s finished!


Well that’s it!  I hope you enjoyed this post and are as excited as I am for the play’s upcoming publishing!  Please spread the word to others you know who might be interested in reading it, too! 

Be sure to join the girls of “Crowned” on MuslimMatters every Wednesday for the next 4 weeks!


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