Fatima Al-Fihri by Aaliyah Tar Mahomed illustrated by Winda Lee

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Fatima Al-Fihri by Aaliyah Tar Mahomed illustrated by Winda Lee

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This adorable simple nonfiction highlight of the founder of the world’s first university still existing, The University of Al-Qarawiyyin, is perfect for preschool/kindergarteners and up.  The brightly illustrated, large minimal text passages spread out over 16 glossy pages breathes life in to a remarkable character and celebrates an accomplishment that every one should be familiar with and inspired by, inshaAllah.

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The story starts by establishing little Fatima’s love of learning.  She learns from books, her family and from the people in her city.  When her family moves from Tunisia to Fez in Morocco, Fatima is excited to learn new things.

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Every day she goes to the mosque to read and meet new people. Her father supports her, and when he passes away she is left with his wealth.  She decides to use the money to rebuild the mosque.

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She recalls that ‘iqra’ is not just about gaining knowledge, but is also sharing what you have learned with others.  She purchases the land around the mosque and builds a university.   It is documented as being the first institution to issue educational degrees.

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I wish the story was slightly more fleshed out with detailing more about her family and her influences, about her overcoming some obstacles and even how long she lived for.  I know the target audience has a short attention span, but a few details even little ones can relate to will connect them to such an important figure and inspire the readers to dream big and make a difference.

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This book is the first in the WomanKind series.   A new series to tell stories about Muslim women who made history.

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