SAMINA ALI is the first Indian Muslim woman fiction writer to be published in America. A trailblazer and visionary, she has built a career as both a successful novelist and a widely popular speaker.
Her debut novel, MADRAS ON RAINY DAYS, was awarded the Prix Premier Roman Etranger 2005 Award by France and continues to be a best seller there. Poets & Writers Magazine named MADRAS as one of the Top 5 Best Debut Novels of the Year and Samina was featured on the cover of the June/July issue. It was also a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award in Fiction as well as the Northern California Book Reviewers Award.
In June 2004, Samina took the novel's message "to the streets" when she co-founded a Muslim American feminist organization called Daughters of Hajar. Together with other Muslim American women, the group walked peacefully into the front doors of a mosque in Morgantown, W. Virginia, which had, till that moment, forbidden women from entering through the main doors.
That small act created ripples across the world and was featured in every major newspaper and media outlet. There is a photo of the group in TIME Magazine walking toward the mosque. In it, Samina appears in a green parrot head scarf and black stiletto heels. One year after the event, CAIR, the largest Muslim organization in America officially changed its policy, asserting that any woman could enter any mosque in the U.S. through the front door and pray in the main hall, if she so wanted. Since then, Muslim women around the globe have formed similar activist groups.
Daughters of Hajar went on to organize the first woman-led prayer in New York.
Since then, Samina has been involved with prominent Muslim organizations in the U.S. to help change the national dialogue about Islam and especially the perception of Muslim women. Imam Feisal and Daisy Khan have named her a Muslim Leader of Tomorrow.
She contributed an essay to LIVING ISLAM OUT LOUD, a landmark anthology of American Muslim women's writings that has since inspired many other similar anthologies centered on Muslim American women.
She has also written for publications as diverse as Self and Child Magazines, The New York Times and The San Francisco Chronicle.
Her book is taught widely in universities and colleges. She lectures frequently at a wide range of colleges -- from Harvard and Yale Universities to Foothill Community College. When it is not possible with her schedule to travel, she lectures via Skype.
She teaches creative writing both at the graduate level in universities as well as privately.
Her astonishing near death experience and subsequent writing of MADRAS while she was healing from massive brain trauma has inspired countless people and Samina has found herself in the role of a talented and successful writing coach. She takes deep pleasure in helping others to break through their limitations and fully tell their stories.
She lives in California with her husband and two children.
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