Independent Press Award announces the 2019 Winners

Proudly, Sahar Aref’s book, Fourth Wife Free, comes Winner in the 2019 INDEPENDENT PRESS AWARD in the category of ‘Women’s Issues’


November 12, 2018

Sahar Aref receives national recognition through the NEW YORK CITY BIG BOOK AWARD

Cairo — The NEW YORK CITY BIG BOOK AWARD recognized Fourth Wife Free by Sahar Aref in the categories of Religion non Fiction & Women’s Issues as a winner.

The competition is judged by experts from different aspects of the book industry, including publishers, writers, editors, book cover designers and professional copywriters. Selected award Winners and Distinguished Favorites are based on overall excellence.

Fourth Wife Free, by Sahar Aref, falls in the categories ‘Religion non Fiction’ and ‘Women’s Issues.’ It challenges the assumption of polygamy being the ‘norm’ and the ‘solution’ for all society problems that prejudiced Sheikhs and their advocates disseminate.

“In 2018, we had true worldwide participation in our annual NEW YORK CITY BIG BOOK AWARD website  In our second year, book submissions were impressive as we collected from six continents: Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America; cities such as Buenos Aires, Cairo, London, Moscow, New York; and across the United States.  Our NEW YORK CITY BIG BOOK AWARD program just proves great book content can be found anywhere on the globe, whether created from an individual author or a major publishing house irregardless what continent we find it.  With over 600 entries, and we feel this is just the beginning and happy to highlight these authors and books and share their achievements.” said awards sponsor Gabrielle Olczak.

Submissions came from the imprints of large traditional publishers such as HarperCollins and Random House; large independent press publishers such as Galaxy Press, Roman & Littlefield and Wiley; small press and independent authors such as Marti MacGibbon to Sahar Aref. 

Check 2018 Winners of the New York City Big Book Award at

We welcome all publishers and authors to submit books for competition at  

The Story Behind the Book

When I heard that extremist Sheikh giving his opinion about polygamy in Islam, I was still too young to challenge it and too naive to drop it from my mind altogether. I couldn’t accept it neither. I could never accept the idea that my religion would impose polygamy on me despite my refusal? How could the tolerant Islam that I had been brought up on be so oppressive to women? Didn’t Prophet Muhammad treat women with respect, kindness, and care? Something seemed definitely wrong!

For a while, I lived with the fear that that extremist opinion would turn out to be true but at the same time, I was ready to do whatever it takes to prove that it was wrong. It would have been much easier for me to meet words of hatred towards Islam said by some non Muslims than to meet an oppressive opinion said by a Sheikh who was supposed to be a help and an authority in knowledge.

There was no escape from living in tension for years until I managed to search for the whole truth about that topic. I had to find it out the hard way and walk through it all by myself because, thanks to that Sheikh, I suffered a lack of trust in most Sheikhs and those whom I could be trusted were unknown to me. So, I put my trust in GOD alone and started a long journey searching everywhere, in books, in media, in mosques, as well as through people’s experience and life’s wisdom.

It took me years to regain balance, to develop fair knowledge, and to build self confidence. When I reached a point of possessing satisfactory results out of my search, I realized that I owed that success to GOD’s care and generosity. They had never deserted me, actually, they were my real support and my motivator to keep going. The findings of my research were too many and reassuring. For example, there is no such thing as polygamy being “a religious must,” “the norm,” “The Solution” for unmarried women, nor a “destiny” wrought on them as that Sheikh said.

Was polygamy “imposed” on Prophet Muhammad’s wives? Of course not. It was a matter of acceptance and free will – they all agreed to be married to him despite polygamy and frugality and when they were given to choose once more by Quran verses, they chose him again. They were not a subject for coercion nor intimidation: everything was a matter of true choice; of acceptance or refusal; of using one’s own free will; and a matter of win/win situation.

A lack of marriage is not necessarily solved by polygamy for there could be as many solutions as there are cases of lack of marriage. Besides, GOD’s abundance is always present, He loves it when you ask Him for what you want and loves it when He gives you. All you need is to ask and to have faith in GOD’s compassion and generosity.