Last Saturday, Muslim Hands congratulated the winners of this year’s Young Muslim Writers Awards at a prestigious ceremony in Senate House, London. The ceremony celebrated the talented shortlisted writers aged five to sixteen, who had submitted a range of extraordinary poems, short stories and articles across nine categories.
Congratulations to all our young writers! In the words of Annum Salman, spoken word artist and writer, ‘This is going to be the hop for the long leap of your success!’
We are grateful to the Institute of English Studies at the School of Advanced Study (University of London) for their support of these young writers, and to Islam Channel, who have been the official media partner for this competition since the first ceremony.
Zainub Chohan introduced the ceremony with a speech about why Muslim Hands began this project, saying, ‘We wanted to help young people become more confident in communicating their ideas and to feel empowered to share their narrative.’ This theme of empowerment was brought up again in later speeches, as judges urged the young writers to continue to write about their experiences.
The ceremony began on an emotional note, with the Special Recognition Award presented to Kids on the Green on behalf of the children who survived the tragic Grenfell tower fire. Previously, this award had been presented to Muhammad Ibrahim Khan and Malala Yousafzai, among others.
Many of this year’s entries tackled serious issues such as gun crime, honour killings and war. The judges commended the writers’ courage in discussing tough topics, and it was truly inspirational to see these young people feeling empowered to talk about their experiences. As Tim Robertson, Chief Executive of The Anne Frank Trust, said: ‘I think it’s important who the writers are and what they write about. It is important that this is a scheme for young Muslims and it is crucial that these young Muslims get to write…’
The Writer of the Year Award went to Sabir Hussain Miah aged 16, who described winning the award as ‘surreal’. Sabir’s story, The Worst Plan Ever, is about bullying and is based on personal experience. ‘I wanted to show that, despite being bullied, people still have the strength to overcome that,’ Sabir explained, as he talked about bringing his character out of the darkness.
Sabir also encouraged other writers to be strong and fearless in their writing:
‘Don’t listen to the stereotypes and the media who are trying to paint a certain narrative of us. Stay firm in your beliefs and whatever dreams you have that you want to pursue, go for it!’
‘I hope that all the young writers understand the power in what they're doing...I hope you see how important you are,’ Jazzmine Breary said as she presented the KS3 Short Story Award to Marjan Khatib.
The judges, a panel of 31 award-winning poets, authors and journalists, were also impressed by the quality of the writing. Fatema Zahra, who won the KS2 Poetry Award, read her beautiful poem aloud. Molly Rosenberg, Director of The Royal Society of Literature, praised, ‘the power of the images used’, in the poem.
Maryam Ziaullah won the KS3 Poetry Award for her thought-provoking poem ‘Time’. Allie Esiri (poet and anthologist) presented her with the award, after reading from Maya Angelou and talking about how poetry connects people.
Maria Zahid achieved the KS4 Poetry Award for her beautiful poem ‘My Best Friend’, which describes how her best friend made her feel less invisible.
Ameerah Abike Kola-Olukotun won the KS3 Journalism Award for her article ‘Daggers Drawn’, in which she wrote movingly about how knife crime in London affects the families of its victims. Mohamed Ali Harrath (CEO of Islam Channel) presented her with the award.
Numa Karnachi wrote an imaginative story about a hoopoe which won her the KS2 Short Story Award. Congratulations, Numa!
Norah Tafraouti won the KS1 Short Story Award for an amusing story about a first day at school and a teacher named Mrs Witch.
Meanwhile, Umar Ibrahim won the KS1 Poetry Award for his creative poem ‘Gluttbutts and Trumpalots’, which begins with the catchy line ‘Gofradump Gluttbutt, greedy and sly / Suited and booted in his dotty red tie’. Well done, Umar!
The audience was kept entertained by Sef Townsend’s storytelling performances and guests were treated to a stunning spread of delicious food. However, nothing was as enjoyable as seeing so many inspirational young people being celebrated for their achievements.
Alhamdulillah, the ceremony was a great success. We hope our young writers enjoyed the afternoon, and we hope we see more of their remarkable writing in the future!
You can find out more about the the 2018 entries or submit a poem or story for 2019 on the
Young Muslim Writers Awards website.