Book review: Safar, Sarah Malik

An illustrated book exploring travel through a series of interviews with Muslim women from diverse backgrounds.

Travelling is more than an escape from reality or fresh content to feed the insatiable Instagram gremlins. It opens our eyes and provides rich and transformative experiences that either validate our beliefs and perspectives, or challenge and shift our thinking, the way we see ourselves and the world. 

In Safar, Muslim Women’s Stories of Travel and Transformation, Walkley-award winning Australian journalist Sarah Malik celebrates and highlights the personal growth aspects of discovering new places, people and cultures, by interviewing and sharing the travel experiences and advice of 11 Muslim women from around the world. 

Beautifully illustrated by Sydney artist (and author of award-winning memoir, The Mother Wound) Amani Haydar, this hardcover book is a visual delight and an enlightening journey in itself. By inviting the reader to explore the various topics such as Adventure, Identity, Confidence and Spirituality, in whichever order they choose, Safar is instantly empowering and deeply personal. 

Safar is the Urdu and Arabic word meaning ‘journey’ and the book proves that travel is for everyone – the 20-year-old who became the first woman to ride a motorcycle across Pakistan, the 16-year-old who felt like a celebrity but also gained a greater sense of identity and cultural connection by visiting her parent’s country of birth, the neuro-diverse student on a budget embarking on a spiritual pilgrimage, the new mother visiting Paris with baby in tow…

The trailblazing and diverse women featured in this book are all inspiring role models who share their unique perspectives and allow Muslim women to finally see themselves in all corners of the world. However, their stories provide valuable insights and practical advice for all women, and all travellers too!  

Travel is not all crystal-clear waters; this book doesn’t just cover idealistic grounds. Many challenging, uncomfortable and heart-breaking stories are shared – a sad but real reminder that there’s still a lot of stigma and discrimination in our world. Yet, these tough or tricky moments are balanced and redeemed with kindness, and the incredible resilience and faith demonstrated by each of the women showcased. 

Read: Book review: A Year with Wendy Whiteley, Ashleigh Wilson

For the new, emerging or hesitant traveller this book provides the encouragement and confidence (and practical tips) to follow your dreams, despite any fears or potential risks. For non-Muslims, and more intrepid and regular travellers, this book is a humbling reminder of what a privilege it is to be able to roam the world without fear or being confronted by prejudice or discrimination.

Humans have travelled since the beginning of time, and despite the disruptions of the past few years, increasing political tensions, and the effects of climate change, it’s not likely to stop any time soon. Safar is a guidebook that can help us to navigate modern-day travel with more compassion and respect for the places and environments, people and cultures we encounter – whether it be on the first or hundredth trip, alone or with family and friends, overseas or locally. 

Safar, Muslim Women’s Stories of Travel and Transformation, Sarah Malik
Publisher: Hardie Grant
ISBN: 9781741177763
Format: Hardback
Pages: 168pp

Publication: 3 November 2022
RRP: $29.99

Mia Ferreira is a professional writer and freelance Marketing, PR and Social Media consultant based in Melbourne, with an interest in wellbeing, sustainability and travel. She is completing the prestigious Professional Editing & Writing course at RMIT and balances all the thinking and typing by practicing and teaching Iyengar yoga.