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Write On! Interviews: Author Tharik Hussain

Write On! interviews author Tharik Hussain

Tharik Hussain is an author, travel writer and journalist specialising in Muslim heritage and culture. His debut book, Minarets In The Mountains: A Journey Into Muslim Europe, won the 2022 British Guild of Travel Writers’ Adele Evans Award. It was also shortlisted for the Edward Stanford Travel Book Of The Year and longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize in non-fiction.

Tharik has written Lonely Planet guides to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Thailand, London and Britain, developed Britain’s first Muslim heritage trails, produced award-winning radio for the BBC World Service on America’s earliest mosques, and been published by the likes of the BBC, National Geographic Traveller and The Guardian.

He’s a fellow at the Centre For Religion And Heritage at the University of Groningen, Netherlands and the Royal Geographical Society in London.

WO: How would you describe your writing to someone new to it?

TH: My writing tries to take people on journeys; usually through places they think they know and show them a different perspective of these places. In doing so, my writing tries to broaden the existing narratives on places, people and cultures – sometimes this is known as ‘decolonising’, as it challenges the traditional and dominant narratives. As a Muslim author, I often do this with Muslim histories and heritage across the Western hemisphere, where in the past such heritage and history has been presented to the world mostly by non-Muslim authors and commentators who viewed it as something foreign, alien and not of Europe.

WO: Can you tell us a bit about your latest book, Ramadan Mubarak?

TH: In many ways, it’s a departure from this, and yet it, too, takes the reader on a journey; an inward one, asking them to reflect, consider and act upon their meditations. Its full title is Ramadan Mubarak: A Little Inspiration For The Blessed Month and is filled with Qur’anic verses, prophetic traditions, inspiring quotes and practical tips aimed at enhancing the reader’s experience of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan. Through these curated elements, the book aims to present a more wholistic understanding of a month often reduced to mere fasting from food and water; it aims to show the month’s socio-historic significance, its spiritual essence and true role in a Muslim’s life. The book also goes out of its way to introduce female and British Muslim voices most readers will not be familiar with, such as the female mystic Rabia and the British convert Lord Headley.

WO: What inspired you to write in the first place, and what inspires you now?

TH: Libraries made me want to write. I’d spend hours in them reading great books as a child. Having access to so much great writing – something that would have been otherwise impossible for a migrant child – I began to appreciate the power of well-crafted words; how they educated, inspired, liberated, validated, offered escape and so on. I developed an admiration and reverence for good writing that, in time, I wanted to emulate. One of the characters I met in those books was the boy reporter Tintin. I devoured those books as a young child, envious of the way he would go on wild adventures across the globe to report on fascinating things, and no doubt Tintin had an unconscious impact on my later steps into journalism and then travel writing.   

WO: A recent theme for Write On! explored ‘Beginnings And Endings’. With that in mind, what do you find easier to write: the beginning or the end? And do you always write the beginning first and the ending last?

AN: I try not to think too deeply about either of these, as they can have a paralysing effect on a writer and leave them unable to start because they don’t know how to start, or begin to worry about how it should end. I find it easier to just write what I’m trying to say, and then allow the beginning and end to emerge, especially when you’re writing the introduction of a book or a lengthy chapter. The fact that it’s meant to set the stage for the reader can often be impossible to do at the beginning, when you have no idea what the stage looks like yet. So, like most writers, I usually write the beginning at the end.

WO: What one piece of advice would you give an aspiring writer?

TH: Read. It really is that simple. Often, many aspiring writers are simply not reading enough. That’s how we learn what good writing is. So my one piece of advice is this: if you want to write fiction, read the books of the best fiction writers in the genre you wish to write in. If you want to write travel literature, read the books of the best travel writers. Learn to mimic them and, in time, your own ‘voice’ or ‘style’ will emerge from this.

WO: Can you tell us anything about future projects?

TH: I’m currently working on my next major book, which goes back to the beginnings of the Muslim presence in Europe. I again travel to several countries to tell this hidden history and, just as I did in Minarets In The Mountains, I continue to challenge and question the dominant narratives about Europe and its relationship with its Muslim self. I’m also working on two other titles that will explore Muslim heritage in Britain and the Muslim history of the fascinating Italian city of Venice.

WO: Lastly, if you could choose one fictional animal/creature to be a pet or companion, who would it be and why?

TH: A unicorn, because my four-year-old daughter is obsessed with them, and I’d love to see her reaction when I walked in with one!

You can find out more about Tharik Hussain here and connect with them on Instagram @tharik_hussain, X @_tharikhussain and Facebook: tharikhussainauthor.

Ramadan Mubarak: A Little Inspiration For The Blessed Month is available to buy from


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Libraries made me want to write. I'd spend hours in them reading great books as a child.