The Wonders We Seek: Thirty Incredible Muslims Who Helped Shape the World

The Wonders We Seek: Thirty Incredible Muslims Who Helped Shape the World
Co-Authors / Illustrators
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Release Date
June 07, 2022
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In this biographical collection, with stunning portraits and illustrations by Saffa Khan, authors Saadia Faruqi and Aneesa Mumtaz highlight some of the talented Muslim physicians, musicians, athletes, poets, and more who helped make the world we know today.
A brilliant surgeon heals patients in the first millennium.

A female king rules the Indian subcontinent.

A poet pours his joy and grief into the world’s best-selling verses.

An iconic leader fights for civil rights.

And many, many more.
Throughout history—from the golden age of the empires of Arabia, Iraq, Persia, and India, up to modern day—Muslims have shaped our world in essential ways, with achievements in music, medicine, politics, human rights, literature, sports, technology, and more. Give this book to readers who are excited to learn about the great figures and thinkers in history!

The authors introduce their book with a personal letter to the reader, setting out their motivations and hopes for the stories they are telling. The backmatter includes a glossary and bibliography for readers’ further research and learning.

Editor review

1 review
Important Collective Biography
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Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
Learning Value
Arranged in order of year of birth and accompanied by beautiful illustrations, this collective biography is painstakingly researched and gives brief overviews of a wide range of Muslim pioneers from all over the globe. Farqui starts the book with information about how hard it is to find biographies about Muslims, even though this community has a long history of innovation and interest in the science and arts. This has been largely ignored in Western civilization, and it can be difficult to find any personal information on some of this groundbreaking people. Since she wanted to include people whose influence stretched beyond their own country, some people who might be controversial are included.

Each entry starts with a few sentences about the person's general contribution, then includes any information about the person's family and childhood, career arc, problems faced, and lasting legacy. These range from Al-Ma'mun, who was born in 786, to Malala. People from a variety of backgrounds, careers, and areas of the world are covered. There are some people who will be more well known to Western readers who were converts to Islam, such as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, and Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), but I found entries about people like poet Nana Asma'u, born in Nigeria in 1793, to be more interesting. The most fascinating person to me was Abdul Rahman Ibrahim, born in Guinea in 1762 to a powerful West African ruler and enslaved and brought to the US. It amazes me that he is not covered in US history classes.
Good Points
It's hard to adequately describe collective biographies, but this is a great addition to school and public libraries, and one of a growing number of books covering previously unheralded innovators with significant impact on the world like Baptiste and Wilson's new African Icons: Ten People Who Shaped History and Mir and Jaleel's Muslim Girls Rise (2019, Salaam Reads). My only complaint is that the illustrations, which are gorgeous, don't list the people's name, dates, locations, and blurbs about their contributions. If they did, it would be a good idea to buy two copies so that one could be cut up for bulletin boards. I can't be the only one who reads collective biographies and thinks this way!

It's encouraging that I had two books in one night (the other being Zhao's Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor) that mention people with Uighur heritage. Rebiya Kadeer, known as the Grandmother of Steel and born in 1946, is included in this book.
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