Inspiration Behind A Thousand Silver Crescents

بِسْمِ ٱللَّٰهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Inspiration Behind
A Thousand Silver Crescents

Back in 2012, there was a fantasy short story contest hosted by SFF indie authors (it’s not around anymore). I don’t remember what the prompt was, but I wrote a story called “The Sacrifice” loosely inspired by 1001 Nights and the Maldivian legend of how Islam came to the island. And I submitted my story for the cash prize. The ending was an ambiguous “sacrifice” made by the main character, Shahira (yup, I kept the name!). I didn’t win the contest, and looking back, it was because of my many writing mistakes—things I would learn about years later. On a side note, I even put the story up on Wattpad for some time along with other stories I was working on (the stories are no longer posted there).

A few years later, in college, I fixed some of the grammar issue and submitted “The Sacrifice” for critique in one of my writing classes. Most saw the story as an overuse of the trope since my main character “volunteers” herself to save her people (The Hunger Games was all the rage at the time—never read the books, by the way). But the critique did illuminate some overlooked plotholes and other issues that would never be addressed because of its short format.

To be honest, I don’t think I’m a good short story writer, particularly for this one. I knew there was more to this story; things needed to be explored that I couldn’t do in a short story. So, I let the story sit for a few years. I knew I wanted to do a Scheherazade retelling and include the Maldivian legend somehow (I’d heard the story from my mom), so I set out to write a Muslim young adult high fantasy novel, in an alternate Earth on an island in the Arabian sea.

Around that time, fantasy books by Muslim authors were popping up. How would my story ever stand out among all the “Arabian-inspired” or “Muslim desert setting” novels? I decided not to set my story in a fantasy world—it would be set in the far future, in another galaxy. Why science fiction? Because I can’t find any Muslim sci-fi! Plus, it’s one of my favorite genres to read and write.

So, I opted to write my all-Muslim cast sci-fi novel set in space. The first half of the story is set on a desert (terraforming failures?) planet and the rest on a generation ship. Inspired by Marissa Meyers’s The Lunar Chronicles, where each book focuses on retelling a fairytale with a sci-fi twist, I chose to do something similar. A Thousand Silver Crescents will be a Muslim “Beauty and the Beast” retelling combined with Scheherazade’s story.

Also inspired by my trip to Egypt in the fall of 2019, I rewrote the story, expanding the universe, adding more characters, and fleshing out the plot. Most of the novels in print as of writing this post don’t have proper, practicing Muslim representation (just having a girl with “hijab” isn’t Islamic rep, by the way). Those stories rarely mention the everyday practices Muslims do, such as wudu, dua, dress code, mannerisms, reliance on Allah Almighty, and the many Islamic phrases we say every day. And as a niqabi, I wanted my main character to also be a niqabi! Seriously, have you seen any SFF books with a niqabi MC??? A Thousand Silver Crescents the first one, in sha Allah!

My main character, Shahira, is inspired by Scheherazade. I made her a somewhat reserved, pacifist princess, the opposite of her sister, Amira. But Shahira doesn’t “volunteer” in the way the trope implies. Her decisions aren’t hasty but through careful deliberation and seeking guidance from Allah (I dare you to find me a SFF book that has this!). As Muslims, our faith comes first before anything else—it’s what makes up our identity and our lives are constructed around it, and I wanted this reflected in my story. Everything that happens in life is not by chance or luck—it’s by Allah’s will.

And nothing happens unless Allah wants it to happen—including writing A Thousand Silver Crescents. Alhamdulillah! I wrote this story with the intention of spreading proper representation and awareness of Islam in a way that many can relate to (through storytelling), and to clarify all those misconceptions and lies spread by the western media.

I hope all those who read A Thousand Silver Crescents benefit from this story, and may Allah accept all that we do for His sake. Ameen.

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