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When Saira Met Sarah is the culmination of five years work bringing together Muslim and Jewish women from across the North-West of England. The two communities often sit side by side in Manchester and the day to day interactions are rarely noticed, and even more rarely recorded. When Saira Met Sarah acknowledges, fosters and encourages these links with the hope that friendships and good writing are two of the positive outcomes.

History of the Project

When Jewish Sherry Ashworth met Muslim Anjum Malik, they found they had a lot in common. Apart from both being successful writers in their own fields, they shared a love of food, of conversation, of the good things in life, and a feeling that their own religions and cultures had been unfairly represented by the media. So the idea was born to create a book with writing by Muslim and Jewish women showing what it’s really like to belong to those religions and cultures in 21st century Britain.

Anjum and Sherry said: “We wanted to have a co-existence project contained in the pages of a book. We wondered if we could find some talented writers who could fill those pages. With the help of Commonword we struck lucky, and are very proud to be able to introduce to you the writers in this book. Some are established, some are new. All are either of Muslim or Jewish heritage and of course all are women. Why just women? Because women are great communicators, and are in their element telling stories and sharing feelings. We believe they have something distinctive to offer when it comes to opening up the lives of our two communities. Our stories range widely in tone and subject matter. There are questions of identity, of courage, of discovering that the other is not so very different after all. There is humour, revolt and acceptance. But most of all there is the chance for readers to look into the Muslim and Jewish worlds, and to make up their own minds about the way we live. And to enjoy the stories we have produced.
Salaam, Shalom!”

Commonword would like to extend our thanks to all the participants, to the key facilitators Anjum Malik and Sherry Ashworth, and to all those others who have supported the project in ways both big and small.