Interview with Umm Zakiyyah

Mohammad Quayum, Nadira Brioua

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Umm Zakiyyah was born in 1975 in Long Island, New York, in the family of an American converts to Islam, Clark and Delores Moore. She grew up mostly in Indianapolis, Indiana, where she started writing articles for local newspapers at an early age. Later, as a student of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, she wrote articles for the university's publications and won many prizes for her leadership role as well as for her academic achievements. In 1997, she obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education and embarked on a career of teaching. She also has a Master's degree in English language learning. She has given talks and interviews on radio and TV, and given lectures at youth events and at conferences within the United States and abroad. Umm Zakiyyah's first novel, If I Should Speak, came out in 2001. This marked a turning point in her life as the novel became an instant bestseller in the US and attracted readers from as far as Malaysia and Australia. In his review of this book, Dr. Robert D. Crane, advisor to former US President Richard Nixon, commented, I could not put it down…. I was fascinated not only by the plot of the novel, but especially by the brilliance of the writing itself. As a lifelong professional writer and editor, I can say that I have never encountered Umm Zakiyyah's equal in portraying the nuances of encounters between persons at all levels from the most superficial to the most profound. Umm Zakiyyah has since published several other novels, including A Voice (2004) and Footsteps (2007), which form the later two volumes of her If I Should Speak triology. Her other novels include Realities of Submission (2008), Heart We Lost (2011), A Friendship, Promise (2012) Muslim Girl (2014) and His Other Wife (2016), which has been adapted into a short film. She has also published a self-help book for Muslim survivors of abuse: Reverencing the Wombs That Broke You (2017). Her books have been taught at several universities in the US, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, and have been the focus of doctoral theses both at home and abroad. Umm Zakiyyah also writes under her birth name Ruby Moore. Because she was born the year her parents converted to Islam and because she was their first child to be born into Islam, when the family changed their names to Islamic ones, her parents chose the name 'Baiyinah'

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-5
Number of pages5
JournalWriters in Conversation
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018

Bibliographical note

Writers in Conversation is available under a Creative Commons Attribution licence.


  • Literature
  • Umm Zakiyyaih
  • Writers in conversation


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