Saturday, 22 November 2014

Book review: The story of Elephant

The story of Elephant is a unique pop-up and play book based on the well-known and much-loved surah Al-Fil, the story of the elephant from chapter 105 of the Noble Qur’an. It is a beautiful book with hand-drawn illustrations, interactive flaps, a children’s colouring map, press-out activity and quiz.
Book review: The story of Elephant: Surah Al-Fil
Written by Hajera Memon 
Illustarted by Anisa Nachett
The story of Elephant is a unique pop-up and play book based on the well-known and much-loved surah Al-Fil, the story of the elephant from chapter 105 of the Noble Qur’an. In 570 A.D. Yemen , the tyrant ruler Abraha leads his army of elephants to destroy Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala’s House, the Ka’ba, which is built by our beloved Prophet Ibrahim Alaihes Salam and his son Ismael alaihes salam in the holy city of Makkah. Armed with only supplications (dua), the leader of the Arabs relies on his faith and trust in Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala to save the Ka’ba and discovers some amazing miracles along the way.
It is a beautiful book with hand-drawn illustrations, interactive flaps, a children’s colouring map, press-out activity and quiz. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book with my three children (all under 7). Surah Al-Fil is my favourite childhood surah. I still remember when my dad told us the amazing story for the first time. I believe through this beautiful book I can help my children to cherish the story of the elephant forever insha Allah. The first page has a prologue which consists of an Ayah from Surah Ibrahim (14:35) teaching us the beautiful dua Prophet Ibraham Alaihis Salam made after he finished building the Kaba with his son Prophet Ismael Alaihis Salam.

The story starts with a small introduction on how Abraha became the ruler of Yemen and built a church to compete with the Kaba. It continues with how Abraha sent the army of elephants to Mecca and captured 200 camels belonging to Abdul Mutalib - leader of the Quraysh (who is also the grandfather of our beloved Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Alaihe Wa Sallam), and the response (in English and Arabic) of Abdul Mutalib when he was called to see Abraha. The story also includes the dua Abdul Mutalib made to Allah, how Mahmud the elephant would keep sitting down when he was ordered to attack the kaba, and the flock of birds defeating the army of the elephant.

The story concludes with a page about how Allah protects the Ka’ba to this day, and how that year is known as the year of the Elephant and that Prophet Muhammed Sallallahu Alaihe Wa Sallam was born in this year. At the end the author summarizes three points we learn from this Surah, about answering of duas, Allah's protection, and the importance of controlling our anger.
Shade7 publishing is doing a fantastic job. We need more interactive books like this for our precious children. The book is a perfect gift for any occasion. To learn more about the book, do watch these two videos.


Book review: Normal Calm

Normal Calm written by Hend Hegazi is the story of how rape impacted Amina and her family’s lives. The subject of the book is an issue that transcends many cultures such as West African, Asian, and so forth besides Arab ones. Though Muslims are not immune to the statistical average of one in three or one in four women being sexually assaulted in her lifetime, this is a topic seldom touched upon in the greater Muslim community.

Amina is an Arab American woman attending one of the best universities in the US. During the spring of her junior year, Amina is raped by one of her friends, making her essentially unmarriageable in the eyes of her parents and, possibly, the entire Arab community. Eventually she falls in love with Sherif, but his reaction to her rape proves him to be unworthy. Deciding to forgo love, Amina focuses on her career. When her best friend introduces her to Mazin, however, she sees in him only good qualities. He is successful, kind, generous...but she feels no love for him. When Mazin asks for her hand in marriage, Amina struggles with the idea of settling for a man she does not love. Knowing that he, too, may abandon her when he learns of her rape is another burden she continues to bear.
Normal Calm is the story of how rape impacted Amina and her family’s lives. The subject of the book is an issue that transcends many cultures such as West African, Asian, and so forth besides Arab ones. Though Muslims are not immune to the statistical average of one in three or one in four women being sexually assaulted in her lifetime, this is a topic seldom touched upon in the greater Muslim community. It is inspiring to see Hend Hegazi as a Muslim author writing about this sensitive issue.
The struggles in this book are unfortunately very realistic. She expressed openly what is often considered taboo in Arab and Muslim cultures in general. Situations like these need to be highlighted so they can be tackled head on. The book was very engaging because it's very realistic as it addresses a hidden problem that some Muslim women struggle with but not often discussed. These sorts of novels are needed as it can provide a source of therapy for those who have underwent similar situations and can bring hidden situations like this to light which is the first step in resolving these traumatic issues. I hope more Muslim authors follow her example. 

The rape itself is not graphically depicted. Amina deals with it in a fairly pragmatic way, deciding to go straight into a group therapy programme so that she can get the support to finish her university studies. Amina reveals her ordeal to her close friends, her family but she finds it very hard to talk about her experience with potential spouses. 
Amina did not consent to losing her virginity, yet unfortunately in her community she is simply seen as no longer a virgin and therefore no longer marriage material. This creates a slippery slope for Amina: should she compromise her own integrity for people who essentially already have questionable values? Difficult situations necessitate strong support from family and friends. However, Amina’s mother’s reaction was very difficult to read. We hope that our family will support us through hardships, especially those inflicted on us by someone else. Interestingly, one of Amina’s strongest supporters is her non-Muslim best friend. The character, Kayla, is a great inclusion in the story. I liked the way the author, Hend depicted Amina’s da’wah towards her best friend. There is so much to learn from this beautiful novel.


Normal calm is a great read. I would highly recommend reading this beautiful book. If you would like to find our more about the author, you can visit her blog:  http://hendhegazi.wordpress.com/ 

Monday, 31 December 2012

Ali and Sumaya


Imanimation studios
http://www.aliandsumaya.com/index.html

Ali and Sumaya is an animated step by step guide to learn how to perform salah (prayer). Little Sumaya doesn’t know how to pray but her friends do. So she fells left out. Her big brother Ali teaches her how to pray properly. I love the way the animation is done. No musical instrument has been used. The Qur’an recitations are done by children.  Meanings and transliterations are also given with the Arabic verses.  This guide also teaches how to do wadu (ritual purification), what can invalidate wadu and sunnah duas after wadu, salah times, adhaan (call to prayer), Dua Qunoot and some beautiful supplications we can do after salah. There is also a quiz section for children to benefit from.  Children can learn at least 8 surahs (Surah Fatiha, Surah Ahad, Surah Al-Falaq, Surah An-Nas, Surah Al-Kafirun, Surah Masad) from the Quran through this guide. There is also a short booklet provided with the cd to practice the verses and duas with children.

My three kids are all under five. I thought they may not appreciate this guide that much but Alhamdulillah they actually love watching Ali and Sumaya. Sometimes they even bring their own small prayers mats and copy Ali and Sumaya. Even I have benefitted from the cd in terms of adding some more duas during the salah, Alhamdulillah. I would highly recommend this animated guide for your little ones.

Friday, 15 June 2012

Book review: A picnic of poems in Allah’s green garden

A collection of 30 poems to keep the young and ‘young at heart’ entertained for hours, mashAllah. These poems cover a number of topics including: Motherhood, Daily prayer, Baby siblings, Life on a farm, the Animal Kingdom, Bullying, Mosques, Ramadan, Appreciating nature and more. The book comes with an audio CD to sing along to these joyful but educational poems.
Written by Dawud Wharsby
Illustrated by Shireen Adams
Published by Islamic Foundation
A collection of 30 poems to keep the young and ‘young at heart’ entertained for hours, mashAllah.
These poems cover a number of topics including: Motherhood, Daily prayer, Baby siblings, Life on a farm, the Animal Kingdom, Bullying, Mosques, Ramadan, Appreciating nature and more. The book comes with an audio CD to sing along to these joyful but educational poems.
Although it is recommended for ages 5+, I have read the book to my children aged 3 and 4 and Alhamdulillah they enjoy the poems. My son’s (4) favourite is ‘Lorry, cycle and feet’ and my daughter loves ‘My father’s beard’ and my favourite is “Rose” which is quite an inspiring poem for us grown-ups Alhamdulillah.
Just to give you a glimpse of the book, one of the poems is given below. It’s a great book as a Ramadan or Eid gift. Enjoy the poem!
Ramadan is on it’s Way
Ramadan! Ramadan!
Ramadan is on its way!
I’ll fast with my whole family.
Cant’s wait for the first day.
We’ll wake before the sun,
then fast just as Allah has asked.
Ramadan is on it’s way.
Ramadan! Ramadan!
I’ve been waiting oh so long,
for you to come and test me out,
see how I’ve grown so strong.
I’ll show you how kind I am,
to every one I meet.
I’ll fast just as Allah has asked.
There’s no food could be as sweet!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Little explorers: The Muslim kid's magazine

LE is a children’s magazine which is published every other month to stimulate the young minds of our children as well as teach them the true teachings of Islam in a fun and interactive way. http://www.littleexplorersmagazine.co.uk/
According to the LE team, the purpose of the magazine is to nurture our children into good Muslim citizens who make a positive contribution to the society in which they live.
Alhamdulillah I have been reading this beautiful magazine with my children since Ramadan 2010. When I received the first issue, I was quite impressed by the quality. At that time, my son was only two and a half years old and my daughter was 15 months but they enjoyed flipping through the magazine! I love the way the images are done mashallah! It just shows that we can indeed create an interesting magazine for children without images with eyes. In 18 months, the content of the magazine has almost doubled. Now it has more articles and activities. My children really love reading the magazine with me. We are really lucky to have Little Explorers for our precious children.
It is very important for our children to read magazines which they can relate to. I would highly recommend this magazine to all parents home and abroad insha-Allah. Trust me you won’t regret subscribing to this wonderful magazine for your precious ones insha-Allah! May Allah swt reward the team behind this wonderful project, ameen.

Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes and how she came to tell them

The book is attractively presented, with good quality binding on the hardback edition and well printed colour plates. You certainly will feel that this is a book your child will be able to grow up with and pass on to his or her own offspring as a treasured heirloom insha-Allah.
Teaching three young goslings how to swim, fly and waddle nicely isn’t easy. Boo, Lucy and small would much rather play games, chase butterflies or splash about in puddles. So in between lessons, Mother Goose starts to tell them rhymes- happy rhymes, sad rhymes and silly rhymes, rhymes for waddling in time, rhymes for flapping their wings and rhymes to lull them asleep. Now all Mother Goose’s rhymes have been gathered together in one beautiful volume for everyone to enjoy. The exquisite illustrations by the brilliant Axel Scheffler make this uniquely fresh and entertaining collection truly a book to treasure. Axel has enjoyed particular success with his collaborations with Julia Donaldson, including the award-winning classic The Gruffalo.
The volume itself is attractively presented, with good quality binding on the hardback edition and well printed colour plates. You certainly will feel that this is a book your child will be able to grow up with and pass on to his or her own offspring as a treasured heirloom insha-Allah. The book has eighty eight rhymes to keep your children quite occupied. My three children all under five love this rhyme book. I would highly recommend this book for your little ones. Enjoy the rhymes!

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Siratt LifeBook 2012 (1433-34)

Website: www.siratt.com
Every year I keep a diary and try to write my thoughts down almost every single day. I love reading them later especially at the end of the year, sometimes feeling good with what I have achieved throughout the year Alhamdulillah and sometimes feeling sad thinking how I could have done more but missed the chance to do so. Since 2010 I have been using Siratt LifeBook and mashallah never looked back.
Every year the LifeBook is just getting better Alhamdulillah. In the beginning it has some very inspiring and thought-provoking chapters on belief, conviction, spirituality, self-esteem, positivity, self-analysis which are worth reading again and again, Alhamdulillah. This year Siratt LifeBook has incorporated numerous exciting ideas and concepts, devised by Productivemuslim.com, to facilitate a practical approach to optimise ones daily productivity. Some of the other features include beautiful verses from the Qur’an, weekly hadith, weekly ‘did you know?’ to inform and remind of Muslim Contributions to civilisations, Islamic months calendar, prayer timetable, wonderful images of mosques around the world and so on. In their own words, “This LifeBook’s specific aim is to assist the reader in achieving its aspiration of ‘Living Islam’ in a wholesome sense. It is intended to be an inspiration for the reader as well as a practical guide and diary.”
For us Muslims, having a productive life is an essential part to fulfil our ultimate purpose in life, serving Allah subha ta’ala and gain His Pleasure. I would strongly recommend the Siratt LifeBook. Trust me, you will love using this very practical diary, insha-Allah! May Allah subhana ta’ala help us in living every single day of our life in a more rewarding and fulfilling way and earn His Ridwan, ameen!