Jun 12, 2010

The Imam's Daughter by Hannah Shah

Hannah Shah is an Imam's daughter. She lived the life of a devout Muslim in a family of Pakistani Muslims in England, but behind the front door, she was a caged butterfly. For many years, her father abused her in the cellar of their home. At sixteen, she discovered a plan to send her to Pakistan for an arranged marriage, and she gathered the courage to run away. Relentlessly hunted by her angry father and brothers, who were intent on executing an "honor" killing, she moved from house to house in perpetual fear to escape them. Over time, she converted to Christianity and was able to live and marry as she wished. Hannah found the courage to live her life free from shame, free from religious intolerance, and free from the abuse that haunted her childhood. This is a remarkable true story of how a young girl escaped a life of torture - a story you won't forget.


Hannah Shah is a thirty-two-year-old British woman of Pakistani Muslim parentage. After she left her home in the north of England and finished her schooling, she earned a degree in Theology and Religious Studies. She now lives in the south of England, where she is increasingly in demand for speaking engagements to support others facing similar situations. She married for love in the spring of 2008. Visit Hannah's website at www.hannahshah.com.


We live such sheltered lives, and have no real concept of the atrocities of abuse and violence that certain cultures deem as normal.  In this transparent portrayal of her life as the daughter of the Imam, Hannah Shah opens the door to things we can hardly relate to.

From the time she was 5 years old, Hannah became the recipient of her father's rage.  She was continually beaten, raped and locked up in the cellar of their home.  Her mother looked the other way, and there was no hope for things to change.  As she got older, things only got worse.

This book is a real eye opener. We often hear of arranged marriages, but the concept and the whole culture is so far removed from our scope of understanding. "The Imam's Daughter " is a great story of a young girl seeking her place in the world, one of safety and security. At 16 years of age, Hannah makes a choice to run away and hide from her family and their plans for her future, and she discovers freedom and happiness that she had only dreamed about.

This awesome quote from the book (p. 204) summarizes Hannah's new life.  "As I read the Bible, I was learning what it meant to be a Christian, about how Jesus would want me to live my life.  I was embracing this newfound freedom to be myself, and most of all I was learning I was loved.  It wasn't about being worthy or deserving any more.  It wasn't about working hard to be accepted.  It was about knowing the love of God was there in spite of everything I did wrong.  More than anything, I felt an inner peace and sensed a flicker of hope.  There was a light in my heart where there had been darkness."

This is a very inspiring story all about freedom and second chances ... as Hannah learns to love others and to be loved in return.

Thank you to Harper Collins Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

The Imam's Daughter: My Desperate Flight To Freedom
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Zondervan Books (May 17 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0310325757
ISBN-13: 978-0310325758


  1. We do read so much on this subject but there may be hundreds of unheard stories. Thank god she had the courage of her convictions to take a stand.

  2. It sounds like a wonderful memoir.