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Muslim Literary Festival Connecting Muslim writers with literary agents, acquiring editors, established authors, and industry professionals


Our Story

“As a BIPOC Muslim author, most doors were closed due to my faith
or my skin color.”

I chased opportunities to learn how to succeed in the writing industry. Attended all the workshops and came up empty-handed. No one answered the specific questions I had for my Muslim characters living in the West.

That’s how the idea of the Muslim Literary Festival was born.

One day, I came home and wrote in my journal
What if there was

A community that fit us all
A safe space that recognizes and appreciates our religious and cultural heritage and diversity
A writing environment that
celebrates us and our achievements

“What if I started a Muslim Literary festival?”

But it takes a village…

Through help and guidance from my Muslim and writing community, I found Sheeza.


Narjis Sheikh

Pakistani American Author
Executive Director and 
Founder of MLF


Sheeza Iqbal

Pakistani-Canadian Author
Director of Outreach and Grants

“I wanted there to be more spaces for Muslim authors, because our stories are not the same. We are so different, our stories so complex and rich.”

In Delhi, India, a storyteller would stand under the only street lamp, surrounded by children who eagerly listened to her stories. My grandmother was one of them, passing those stories to my mom, then to me. I felt the responsibility to share these stories with the world, to keep our stories alive for generations.

When Narjis told me about MLF, I knew…

“Of course we needed MLF to exist, the writing industry must see the huge unexplored potential Muslim writers are offering.”

I joined in a blink of an eye


For the first time, I belonged as a writer
I wasn’t squeezing myself into a space that’s overlooking who I am
I am home…


“I am here to empower our community of writers.”

Born to a Shia Muslim father and a Sunni Muslim mother, my connection with writing was the two pieces I wrote about our unique home and my experience as a young muslim woman who faced divorce.


When Narjis’s eyes lit up speaking of MLF and I tagged along after a day out consisting of brunch and chai to view the venue for MLF in Downtown Toronto…

It only took Narjis to say, “Hey, we need someone with impressive experience in non-profit like you.”

I said yes, and the rest is history.



Isbah barlas

Director of Operations and Events

Our village grew

Director of Marketing

Sabreen El Awad

Director of Marketing
Director of Finance

Safia Wazed

Director of Finance

It takes a bigger village to elevate our Muslim writers voices

Volunteer with us:



For sponsorship & partnership inquiries, please contact Sheeza Iqbal:

For media inquiries, please contact Sabreen El Awad:

Corridor in the Asylum

Muslim Literary Festival is a not-for-profit corporation that aims to cultivate and amplify the voices of marginalized Muslim writers in the literary world through community spaces, networking, workshops, and resources provided by industry professionals. Muslim Literary Festival makes no representations or warranties about the completeness, accuracy, correctness, reliability, suitability, or availability of the information on this website. Please contact us should you have any queries.