By Nadia Cassim
I was first introduced to Neymat Raboobee, also known by her pen name, The Imperfect Muslimah, last year during the SA Muslim Women’s Short Story Competition. She was selected by a panel of judges as one of the top three writers in the competition and that gave me insight into her extraordinary talent. Neymat began writing more frequently on social media after that and I for one, kept a close eye on her.
Since then, this dedicated and passionate blogger has grown phenomenally. Neymat started her blog just a month before the competition was launched in April 2017 and took up the challenge of writing a story under the theme: A guarded heart is a careful heart. An open heart is a dangerous heart. “My Aunt tagged me on the competition post and funnily enough, it was the first thing I wrote using Muslim characters for someone to read”, she explains. Her characters since then have evolved and her writing has earned her the prestigious Woman of Wonder Award this year.
I recall Neymat’s constant dedication to storytelling last year. Each day, there would be new chapters posted on her Facebook page and with each passing week, the followers and comments would steadily grow. “Hidden Blessings is the first story I ever wrote and shared online”, says Neymat “It started on the 1st August and once that was completed I wrote Ammarah’s Fear”.
Ammarah’s Fear, published as a novel under the title Chains of Fear, became quickly viral amongst the inner writing circles on and offline, with sales steadily encouraging Neymat to write more. She took up the NaNoWriMo challenge and wrote Transmutation which quickly earned her a place as one of TOSH’s (Tales of the Sisterhood) writers. From there, her second novel, The Art of Mutual Destruction, was published.
This year Resisting Taqdeer has been the new craze amongst her readers and from the shouts for “more chapters” at odd hours of the day and night it is obvious that Neymat’s writing has struck a nerve amongst her readers. Neymat says that feedback from her readers and hearing about issues that need highlighting, inspire her to write. She gets attached to her characters and their stories and I suspect that’s why her stories are so relatable.
So how does she form her characters? “Some are created entirely as devices to move the plot along or to allow one of the other characters to experience certain things via them” she explains, “and so they’re just a laundry list of qualities that I need”. The main characters in her stories however, embody a story that she feels needs to be told, a stereotype that needs to be looked further into or a behaviour that needs challenging. “I take stories that I’ve heard and merge and extract qualities- every character I’ve ever written is a patchwork made up of caricatures, real-life experiences and stories”.
Altogether authoress Neymat Raboobee has written 3 Novels (one of which she is still busy writing) and 7 short stories. In her free time she loves to read (sometimes more than writing), engaging in a book club she belongs to as well as experimenting in the kitchen. Her word of advice to anyone wanting to travel down the path of writing and blogging is to read. “Read everything you can get your hands on and learn what does and does not appeal to you”. She also encourages aspiring writers to practice continuously on their skill and to never throw away their scripts, no matter what they may think of it. “You have no idea what kind of gem could be lurking in the grotty journal you used to carry around five years ago”.
Neymat’s writing can be found on her blog www.theimperfectmuslimah.com
She can be followed on Instagram @the_imperfect_muslimah