Q&A: Pitt alumna educates children on Islam with ‘Moon’s Ramadan’


Images Courtesy of Kaysha Weiner

Natasha Khan Kazi, Pitt alum and author of Moon’s Ramadan.

By Nada Abdulaziz, Staff Writer

Natasha Khan Kazi, a 2004 Pitt alumna and former Pitt News columnist, published her first children’s book in February with HarperCollins. After graduating with a business degree from Pitt and working in digital marketing for more than 13 years, she embraced her talent as a writer and published “Moon’s Ramadan.”

“Moon’s Ramadan” tells the story of the holy month of Ramadan from the perspective of the moon. The children’s book explains why Muslims fast during Ramadan and other rituals performed during the holiest month of the Muslim calendar. 

Khan Kazi spoke with The Pitt News about her journey as an author and about the process of writing her book. Her road from a corporate career to a published author was shaped by her children, identity and morals. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

The Pitt News: What made you decide to write “Moon’s Ramadan”?

Natasha Khan Kazi: The idea for “Moon’s Ramadan” came after I became a parent and I started going to preschools when my kids were in preschool to talk about Ramadan. I felt like when I was a kid, all the joy that I felt at home was gone and it became very quiet when I left — no one else knew about my special time of year. I wanted my kids to feel like our holidays are as special as all the other holidays and I was very lucky I had teachers that supported me. 

When I started my writing journey, I knew that this is one of the stories I wanted to write, but I wanted to write it in a way that was unique to me, because there are a lot of Ramadan stories, and I hope for even more stories, because everyone should have a voice in this mosaic that is our religion. 

For me, the uniqueness was holiday magic. There’s something about that imaginative element that sparks imagination in children and so that’s when I decided I would write “Moon’s Ramadan” from the perspective of the Moon because that is my imaginative main character. 

Inside Natasha Khan Kazi’s workspace. (Images Courtesy of Kaysha Weiner)

TPN: What was your journey as a writer like? 

NKK: I’m an immigrant, I came to the United States when I was five years old. For my parents, it was very clear that we didn’t come to this country so that I can become an English major or go to art school. I felt that dutiful daughter pressure of doing something that made sense for my family, so I went to the business school at Pitt and I had a great experience there, but when I wasn’t doing my coursework I was always writing or drawing.

When it was time to graduate, I still couldn’t permit myself to do the thing I really loved and I went into the corporate world for 13 years in digital marketing. Around 2017, I left the corporate world. I began working as a marketing consultant during which I was able to do more projects with my kids that involved learning about different artists. 

I took the first right step and signed up for a workshop and I loved it. One of the nagging questions was why couldn’t I illustrate. I didn’t go to art school and I felt like I would never be taken seriously, but another illustrator told me that I’ll get to a point where I’m ready to show my work, and she was right. 

In 2021, I was ready to pitch my work. I signed with my agent, Tansuri Prasanna, who works with Defiore & Company, and she helped me polish my work for submission. When I went on submission, I got an offer every day from major publishing companies. It was a crazy ride where I didn’t permit myself to do what I wanted for a very long time, but I feel super lucky to be doing the work now. 

TPN: What was the experience like of growing up in the United States and celebrating Muslim holidays for you? 

NKK: My parents always tried to make Ramadan and the Eid holiday very special. We lived in a very small town in Pennsylvania and I remember making signs for Ramadan, which you’ll see a little girl doing the same in the book because that was my experience. You couldn’t buy any of the decorations, so we would make it at home.

When I was in college in 2001, September 11 happened, and it changed the tone of my experience being a Muslim in America. Before that it was different and special, some people didn’t get it but no one hated it. In 2001, the tone changed. All of these things that I was hearing were not true to my experience. I was raised by strong Muslim women and a very diverse community of Muslims. The narrative was homogenizing our thoughts and I think that’s when I realized that when I celebrated I needed to include everyone so they understand us. 

TPN: How do you think your book impacts your children and other young minds?

NKK: I 100% wrote this book for my children so they feel safe in all spaces. But I also wrote this for every Muslim child so that they feel safe, seen, and proud. I think this book gives kids who may feel different, a way to feel proud about who they are. But it also helps their friends who are not Muslim to be better friends. 

TPN: Is there anything else that you find valuable that you would like to share? 

NKK: I have a message for Pitt students. There are so many incredible people in publishing who want to promote diverse voices. I encourage all students to explore this path and don’t let gatekeepers stop you.