IHRC held an author evening with Kosser Abdul Aziz in January 2023 to discuss Tales of Mini Maryam, a compilation of short, real-life and extremely cute stories based on Kosser’s then 3-year-old daughter, Maryam.
Purchase a signed copy of Tales of Mini Maryam here
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Kosser Abdul Aziz, known as ‘Gangsta Granny’ to her close friends and family, lives in London with her husband. In 2012, she gave up her career in Canary Wharf to home school their children and to continue to voluntarily run educational and recreational activities and events for her local community. London Borough of Brent recognised Kosser as a community mover and shaker and featured her in, ‘Brent Magazine, 2011’. She was one of the main leads in a major mainstream TV documentary, ‘Hajj, The Greatest Trip on Earth’, and together with her family she took part in the Bafta-nominated British reality show, ‘Little Angels’. Kosser continues to organise and deliver community activities along-side her home schooling, public speaking coaching, TV presenting on IQRA.TV, script and book writing.
This event was chaired by Fatima Insiya. The conversation has been edited for better readability.
Fatima: how did you decide to become an author?
Kosser: I never decided to be an author, it just happened. When I was younger, I used to write memoirs of my children – anything that happened, any mischief they were up to, I wrote them down for the sole purpose of sharing the stories when they grew up. I had written up my eldest daughter’s birth story, and when she came to visit me, I showed it to her and her response was, “oh, that’s nice mum” – and that was it. I wasn’t expecting that reaction; I thought it would be really special and meaningful to her, but it wasn’t. So, that made me think, why am I writing all these stories if my children are not going to be interested? I am going to share them with the world instead! I knew I had written stories about Maryam that were really quite funny because she was always up to mischief. I decided to see if I could end each of the stories with some type of dua to make them more meaningful. That was the start of Tales of Mini Maryam.
Fatima: the stories are very relatable – has that affected how it has been received and have you noticed people coming up with their own stories?
Kosser: that one word ‘relatable’ has come up time and time again. People can relate with it so much, not relate with just the children, but adults as well. The book is for children, but adults can relate to the stories as well because it is what we go through as mums and dads. Everyone has loved it because they can see their child getting up to the things that Maryam did.
Fatima: what is the biggest disaster [with Maryam] that did not make it into the book?
Kosser: was it when Maryam put nail varnish on my bed? I can’t remember, but if I do remember I’ll let you know! Maybe that was a sign of her creativity. When she grows up wants to be a civil engineer; ever since she was a kid she liked making a mess, knocking things over and building it all up again. MashaAllah she is now 13, and it was a sign I guess for her wanting to go into construction work.
Fatima: what is it like flicking through pages of your past? Is it strange? Does it feel almost otherworldly?
Kosser: not really, alhamdulilah it is in the book. When the book came out, I had my grandchildren, and grand-nieces and grand-nephews, I was asked if I was going to do books about Mini Zakariya or Mini Sufyan, so I had request after request to do a book about them. I have written another book as part of the series but it is still in the process.
Fatima: what was the most enjoyable part and difficult part of writing the book?
Kosser: the enjoyable part was actually writing the stories. Back in those days there were no iPhones, so I was wiring the stories as fast as I could then trying to understand my own handwriting. The difficult part was listening to the publishers; I approached 4 to 5 publishers and they each have a different way of publishing the work, so that was the most tedious task but, it was worth it in the end.
Fatima and Kosser also discussed specific stories in the book, Kosser shared experiences about her family, her thoughts about teaching children to have a God-conscious mindset with life’s mishaps, her experiences with homeschooling, founding a gymnastic club for homeschooling children, teaching communication and starting a public speaking club, the importance of verbal and non-verbal communication, and the importance of teens to know what their strengths and weaknesses are. We also heard from Maryam herself!