How Yahiya Emerick contributed to Islamic literature in the West…
Amirah Publishing was created by Yahiya Emerick, who converted to Islam after a long spiritual journey during the winter of 1988-1989. With a new convert’s zeal, he tried his hand at translating the Qur’an into modern English throughout 1989 into 1990, and this initial work later led to his opus contributions in this field. In 1992 he was working as a teacher in an Islamic school in Michigan, and he wanted to give back to the community for all the great books he had read over the previous few years.
His first book was a compilation of hadiths in more fluid English called, “In the Path of the Holy Prophet.” The bus driver for the school in which he worked also had a part-time job working for a copy business and printed 300 copies (basically all xerox copies bound up like a book) for about $500. (A big expense for a severely underpaid teacher in an Islamic school!)
Br. Emerick always liked to write stories, so a few months later the same bus-driving brother printed Emerick’s second book, a collection of short fictional stories with Islamic themes called, “The Seafaring Beggar and Other Tales” - again 300 copies, though this time for $700.
Local reception was cool, as the community at that time was not used to ‘Islamic Fiction,’ as Br. Emerick labeled it when asking for people to buy copies, (he wound up giving most of the books away to children at youth meetings) but undeterred, he kept writing and decided to create his own brand, and thus Amirah Publishing was born in 1992 as a way for Br. Emerick to gain some traction and get exposure. Of course, he funded everything himself on his teacher salary so even though the writing grew apace, the publishing of new titles was constrained by funding.
All throughout the 1990s and into the early 2000s Br. Emerick was a regular fixture at ICNA and ISNA conventions on the East Coast as a vendor in the bazaars. He wound up losing far more than he ever made financially, but the exposure of all his new stories and other books helped bring Islamic fiction more to the forefront of the community’s imagination.
Today, most of his work is done online and new offerings are printed from time-to-time. (He is still surviving on a teacher’s salary!) He is the first to recognize that writing for the Muslim community is a labor of love whose rewards are with the Almighty in the Next Life. Many of his books (especially the school textbooks) are now published by Noorart, and his fiction books appear on Amazon.
As part of our continuing mission, Amirah Publishing is dedicated to creating the ideal curriculum and syllabus for the study of Islam, Arabic and Muslim-themed literature in full-time parochial schools, weekend classes and also for families and homeschoolers. Fiction stories remain our cherished ideal, however, as imagination lasts a lifetime. In addition to writing and publishing our own original materials, we also incorporate into our growing school syllabus list: new books, audios and other items drawn from a variety of sources.
You will find a complete syllabus covering subjects such as Islam, Reading and Spiritual Literature, as well as a full discussion of the aims of each area of study and growth. A model weekend school program is also within this website as well as many other resources and goodies. Our goal is to enable schools, teachers and parents to present Islam and its worldview in a logical, faithful and complete way with the idea that the young will better be able to integrate their spiritual tradition in a variety of societal contexts.