Tag Archives: Hajj

I went for Hajj by Na’ima B. Robert illustrated by Paula Pang

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I went for Hajj by Na’ima B. Robert illustrated by Paula Pang

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Before I review this delightful book, I would like to make a public service announcement of sorts.  It is not Hajj season, not even close.  I pre-ordered this book on June 23 from Amazon, I should have/was supposed to have it before Hajj in the middle of July.  I got it TODAY! When I realized that the US publication date was delayed for a book already published in the UK, I reached out to Kube Publishing and they suggested trying “an independent bookseller such as IslamicBookstore.com or CrescentMoonStore.com.”  I know this.  Noura is a dear friend, but I messed up.  Please don’t do the same.  SUPPORT LOCAL BOOKSELLERS! I’m sorry, lesson learned.

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Now back to the book that already feels like a classic staple that needs to be on every Muslim families book shelf, and in every public learning space for non Muslims to enjoy and benefit from as well.   The 31 page “inspirational, semi-fictional narrative” is perfect for ages two to seven as it mimics the beloved Eric Carle and Bill Martin, Jr. classic, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? but framed around Hajj and what is seen, done, and heard.  Each two page spread begins with, “Hajji, hajji…”.

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The book starts with a detailed Note to Parents and Teachers that explains the points to highlight, and discuss with children.  The story is then organized by the steps of hajj in broad strokes and illustrated with both charm and detail that will hold readers and listeners attention.

Hajji, hajji what did you wear?

I wore two white sheets

And my shoulder was bare.

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The book starts with the little boy narrator on the plane looking down on the clouds and sea. He then puts on his two sheets, hears the call to prayer,  sees the black stone and the station of Ibrahim before he makes his seven tawaafs, runs between safa and marwa and heads to Mina. He prays at Arafat like the Prophet (saw) did, and falls asleep in the cold night desert air.  He sees stones being thrown and eats meat on Eid before getting his head shaved.  The book concludes with a glossary.

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The book is well done and is a great mix of information and entertainment, alhumdulillah.

Eid al-Adha: Festivals Around the World by Grace Jones

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Eid al-Adha: Festivals Around the World by Grace Jones

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I had hoped to go through all the recently published non fiction hajj and Eid al-Adha books at my local library, the same way I went through the Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr ones to check for errors and accuracy, but they really didn’t have many, and those that they did have were not published in the last few years.  I did find this book from 2017 and because it has some errors: saying Eid is in September every year, not mentioning all the parts of Hajj, which is ok, but overly stressing the stoning at the jamarat, pronouncing Hajj as Harj, etc.,  I thought to share it with you all, so that you too can contact the publisher and your local library and/or bookstore to see about pulling it if you are so inclined (booklifepublishing.com)

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The 24 page non fiction book is a large 9.5×12 horizontal layout with beautiful pictures of diverse Muslims worshipping and celebrating.  A little cartoon character, Noor, guides you to word pronunciation with a glossary at the end.img_2346The book starts out with a two page spread defining what a festival is.  The next two pages define Islam.   Page 8 then states that “Eid al-Adha is a festival celebrated by Muslims in September of every year.”  And page 9 of the book says we throw pebbles at a wall, not that we throw pebbles at three representative pillars.  It also says that Eid is celebrated for two to four days depending on the country.  Religiously, it should say it is a three day holiday.

img_2347It then tells the Story of Eid al-Adha aka Ibrahim (as) being to told to sacrifice his son.  I’m not sure why the book doesn’t says that Muslim’s consider Ibrahim a Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), and instead call him a wise man.  Indeed he was, but it seems very awkward to not mention how Muslims regard him, and seems to go out of its way to not say he is a prophet in Islam.

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The next section is about Hajj which tells that it is performed in the last month of the Islamic year and that we walk around the kaaba seven times.  No other info is given, but in the next section it again mentions the throwing of pebbles,  really dismissing any other steps and making the sacrifice and stoning rituals seem to be the whole of Hajj which is incredibly misleading and erroneous.

The book shows that those not at Hajj, pray in congregation wearing new clothes, give and receive gifts and giving charity.  In the section about Festive Food it only Buriyani from India is featured, it seems random.  It should have been stronger that one third of the sacrifice goes to the poor, one third to friends and family, and one can be kept for oneself.  This would show that meat is the highlighted festival foods in any culture celebrating.  On the “Noor Says” page at the end, it has Hajj pronounced as “harj” which is wrong, it is Hajj, or possibly hadj.

My standards have dropped considerably, and would sadly not consider much of this major.  But, it does provide another example of how involved and aware we need to be in our representation in mainstream nonfiction publications.

The Colours of My Eid: Memories of Hajj and Eid al-Adha by Suzanne Muir illustrated by Azra Momin

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The Colours of My Eid: Memories of Hajj and Eid al-Adha by Suzanne Muir illustrated by Azra Momin

 

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At 18 pages, this 8 x 8 book focused around colors contains a lot more information than what initially meets your eyes.  The warm beautiful, full page pictures fall opposite a highlighted color and a description of that color in the child’s world that reminds the characters of their time at Hajj or celebrating Eid al-Adha.  On each of the fun text pages is a light green text box at the bottom with factual information that older children or adults will benefit from and be able to share with younger listeners.  The main text is ideal for toddlers and up, and older kids up to 3rd grade will benefit from the nonfiction highlights that can educate or remind Muslims and non Muslims alike, about the importance of Hajj and Eid al-Adha.  

The book starts with an introduction about the Islamic language and perspective used, and clarifies that the colours emphasized are to help visualize the point being made, it also gives information about Eid al-Adha.

The colors highlighted are: white, black, brown, green, grey, yellow, and purple.  The large simple text takes something relatable such as the monkey bars, or balloons, or the sky and corresponds it to a memory of Arafat, or ihram, or the hills of Safa and Marwa.

The nonfiction text gives specific dimensions of the Ka’aba, the story of Hajar and baby Ismail, the requirement of Hajj and some of the steps.  There is a lot of information conveyed which at times is incredibly detailed, and sometimes, rather vague and generic, i.e. Tawaf is when Muslim pilgrims circle the Ka’aba as part of the Hajj rituals. Overall, this little book packs a punch, and I was equally impressed at how it held my five year old’s attention with the colors, and my interest with the facts detailed below.

 

 

 

The Green Dinosaur Umbrella: A Hajj Story by Amina Banawan illustrated by Rania Hasan

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The Green Dinosaur Umbrella: A Hajj Story by Amina Banawan illustrated by Rania Hasan

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This 36 page Hajj story covers the steps of Hajj by following a green dinosaur umbrella as it gets passed around to those that need it more than the person who currently holds it.  A great story for ages 4 to 8, the large 8.5 by 11 colorful pages-full of diversity, kindness, and bits of information help inspire and amuse our little Muslims.

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Ibrahim is getting ready for hajj and picks out a green dinosaur umbrella to take to Makkah.  When he gets separated from his father while making tawaf, it his umbrella that his father sees to find his grateful son again.

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Outside Ibrahim sees an old man sitting in the hot son and gives him the umbrella realizing the old man needs it more that he does.  The old man takes the umbrella to Mina and makes dua’as for the generous boy at Arafat.

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When a tour leader comes around to hand out water and juice, the old man determines that he needs it more than he does and passes it on.  The leader carries it toward Jabal Ar-rahma and Muzdalifah.  He is awoken from his sleep by two men arguing and uses the dinosaur to defuse the tension.

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The next morning he sees a mother carrying a young child and gives her the umbrella as the rain starts to come down.  She and the baby are kept dry as they go to throw their pebbles as the jamarat, and kept them dry as they walked back to Mina.

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After they trim their hair and prepare for Eid, she sees a little girl looking sad and gifts her the green dinosaur umbrella. After performing the Sa’ee, her father offers to take her to feed the pigeons and she runs off forgetting the umbrella, as it rolls under a book shelf of Qurans.

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After making his farewell Tawaf, Ibrahim goes to get a Quran for his father and finds his special umbrella peeking out from under the shelves.

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A beautiful fun book that shows the steps of hajj for even the little ones to enjoy all while teaching lessons about generosity, selflessness, and worshipping Allah swt, alhumdulillah.

An Ocean in One Drop: The Tale of Hajar in Hajj by Mariam Hakim illustrated by Layla Abdubaisi & Hameedah Hamadah

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An Ocean in One Drop: The Tale of Hajar in Hajj by Mariam Hakim illustrated by Layla Abdubaisi & Hameedah Hamadah

IMG_7027A story about Hajar (saa), about Zamzam, about Hajj, and how we are all connected through our faith in Allah.  In 32 water color adorned pages, the rhyming couplets tell a well-known historical story for children of all ages, with Hajar front and center.

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The book is framed with a young girl, Jamila sitting with her grandmother who has just returned from Hajj.  She is giving Jamila some Zamzam water as she tells her the story of Hajar, and how at the heart of our Hajj we honor and follow in Hajar’s footsteps.

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Left in the desert with her son Is’mail (as) she runs between two hills, Safa and Marwa looking for water and help. This step of Hajj, Sa’ee, is required by all pilgrims to perform as Hajar did. Grandma explains to Jamila, that after praying to Allah (swt) and after the seventh run, water appeared and still flows today, Zamzam.

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Jamila learns from her grandma the value of the water, and the power trusting Allah has in our lives.  She also learns how the well attracted people and is now the  city of Makkah.  “You see the sacred Sa’ee has many lessons within: Courage, patience, faith and love.” the grandmother tells Jamila before quoting Rumi and liking the desert water to an ocean of history.

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The book contains a two page Glossary of names and terms at the end as well as information about the author and illustrators.  As expected there is also an ayat regarding Prophet Ibrahim and his family from the Quran at the end, and somewhat surprisingly, Bible verses about Hagar.

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I’m not sure that the link to Rumi’s quote and hence the title of the book is smooth, it seems a bit forced.  Also, I’m not sure why the Bible verse and the Bible entry appearing in the Glossary is present.  It seems like an Islamic story for readers of all faiths to know what Muslim’s believe, so I’m confused why the interfaith angle at the end is there.  Perhaps, if there was an explanation or an Author’s Note or a tie-in to the story, but without any of that, it seems inconsistent and random.

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As far as the illustrations on the 8.5 x 11 thick soft bound pages are concerned, they are rather mediocre.  The anime’ style people, the texture, shimmery bits, and the flowing deserts, make me feel like I should love them, and there is truly nothing wrong with them,  I just wasn’t overly wowed by them.  I actually found the illustrations off for the story at hand.  I’m  certain everyone will disagree with me, and some really are gorgeous, but overall I found them collectively, to be just ok.

 

 

Owl & Cat Go To Hajj by Emma Apple

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Owl & Cat Go To Hajj by Emma Apple

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I thought I knew what this latest Owl & Cat book would entail.  I figured like the Islam is… and Ramadan is… books, this book would, in its simplicity, poignancy, and repetitive sentence structure convey the emotions and importance of Hajj.  So imagine my complete surprise when the 78 page book with two familiar characters actually detailed day-by-day the steps of Hajj for young preschool aged readers and listeners and up.

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Owl and Cat show what a pilgrim does on each of the 5 days of Hajj.  Each section is separated by days with color tabs on top to keep the steps clear.  The illustrations are a little crisper than in previous books which resembled little doodles a bit more to me.  And while the simplicity of sentence structure, length, and diction remains, the book is a lot more factual and didactic than sentimental, especially compared to the other books in the series.

The book starts off with a a list of contents and an informative page about Hajj.  Owl and Cat then pack their bags, and travel by plane to Mecca. Day one has them putting on ihram, performing tawaf, sa’iy, and heading to Mina.  Some details about what each step means are given, but nothing overwhelming or too wordy.  The illustrations show what the text means and offer a lot to the understanding, if the concepts are foreign.

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Day two is going to Arafat, and standing in prayer at Jabal ar-Rahma.  They then head to Muzdalifah to rest and collect stones.  It also mentions that “many Muslims who are not on Hajj will fast.”

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Day three takes them back to Mina to throw their pebbles, make sacrifice, cut their hair, and change out of their ihram before they do their second tawaf, sa’iy, and travel back to Mina for Eid.

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Day four is in Mina stoning the jamarat as is day five before they travel back to Mecca to do the final tawaf and drink Zamzam water before their Hajj is complete.

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The book would probably work for non Muslims in that it isn’t preachy, but some base knowledge would be needed as there isn’t a glossary.  The book is pretty thorough for a children’s book, but I think the information is needed.  Many children do stimulations of Hajj or read simplified versions and don’t realize there is some back and forth and many of the actions are done more than once, and that it is a lot of actions, steps, and traveling in a short amount of time.

 

Two Pigeons on a Pilgrimage: A Hajj Story by Rabia Bashir illustrated by Aisha Dean

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Two Pigeons on a Pilgrimage: A Hajj Story by Rabia Bashir illustrated by Aisha Dean

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An adorable 40 page paper back book about Hajj aimed at ages 3 and up and told from the perspective of two Pigeons performing Hajj with humans.

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A boy and girl pigeon say Bismillah and spread their wings as they head off to Hajj.  They see pilgrims at the airport wearing ihram before they start circling the Ka’ba like the humans below.  After seven rounds they go to Ibrahim’s Station before they are off to Safa and Marwa while pausing to sip on Zamzam.

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With Umrah complete they are off to Mina, then Arafat where duas are made.  They then go to sleep under the stars in Muzdalifah, before they slaughter an animal, cut their hair, shower, and throw stones at Shaitan.

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The concepts are simplified, but told in sequential order of how hajj is performed with very little commentary or embellishment.  The lines rhyme, so there is some creativity thrown in to keep the pattern and facts in line.  The font size, spacing and overall presentation of the book is good for reading at bed time or in small groups.

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The best part of the book, are the pictures.  They are sweet, colorful, and engaging and to find out at the end that they are done by a 12 year old girl is an extra added bonus.

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The book is factual in the steps for hajj, but because it doesn’t have a glossary, or give much information about why Muslim’s perform Hajj or details about the different acts of worship, it probably is better suited for Muslim kids that will hopefully know some of the answers, or have access to an adult who can answer and fill in the blanks.

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Overall, a good addition to books about Hajj to share with your little ones.  I just wish it would have come out a little bit earlier, as the Hajj starts in a few days and the book just came out.  If you can’t find it this year, inshaAllah get a head start for next year as I think the book has staying power and will be read more than once as both a learning tool, and fun book requested by kids.

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Yan’s Hajj: The Journey of a Lifetime by Fawzia Gilani illustrated by Sophie Burrows

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Yan’s Hajj: The Journey of a Lifetime by Fawzia Gilani illustrated by Sophie Burrows

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With less than a month until Hajj, this book should definitely start making an appearance in your children’s story selection rotation.  The focus is not on the parts of hajj, but rather the desire and intense yearning to go for the sake of Allah (swt).  Granted, it doesn’t take much to get me to cry these days, but this 27 page book for ages 5 and up, got me emotional.  Going for hajj is always something to plan for and hope for, and the sweetness of the reminder that we plan, and Allah plans and Allah is the best of planners is so beautifully brought to life, that I benefitted from the reminder and my kids from the lesson.

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Yan is a farmer, a poor farmer, who loves Allah and wants to go for hajj more than anything else.  So he decides to work hard and fill up his money bag so that he may go.  After years of hard work his bag is full and he begins his first steps in his journey proclaiming his love for Allah.  After a few days of walking however, he comes upon some sad children who have recently lost their school to a fire.  Yan, uses his money and time to fix the school and returns back to his farm to start saving up again to go for hajj.IMG_5486.jpg

When his bag is full again and he sets out again, he is met by an injured boy who is being yelled at by his owner.  Yan, once again reaches into his money bag to generously do the right thing, in this case to pay off the boy’s debts and takes the boy home with him to be nursed back to health.

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After some time he again has a full money bag and sets off for Hajj.  Along the way he finds a village trying to build a mosque and after two months of helping with the funds and offering his own labor, the mosque is complete and Yan returns home.

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Now Yan is old, and after many years he looks in his money bag and it is not full and he sadly admits he cannot do hajj.  But then the boy he saved, Habeeb, returns with a horse cart to take him for hajj and they pass through the village where he repaired the school and is greeted with rose petals and gifts of ihram, they then pass by the mosque he helped build and the villagers gift him with food and water, they then arrive at Habeeb’s house and he is given a bag filled with money and at long last Yan’s dream comes true as he sees the Kaaba.

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The book shows how steadfast Yan’s love of Allah is and how generous and patient he is in pursuing that love. The illustrations of him aging are truly touching and gentle.  In some ways it reminded me of Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, but with a happier ending, in bringing a large grown up concept down to size and presenting it in a genuine way.

 

 

A Little Tree Goes for Hajj by Eman Salem

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A Little Tree Goes for Hajj by Eman Salem

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A friend loaned me this book with a bit of hesitation as to its quality, and although I needed one more Hajj book for an upcoming story time, it seemed that it was yet another book about the steps for Hajj, so I wasn’t stressing about acquiring it. Luckily we were both wrong, at least from my perspective.  The book is so sweet, and not so much about the steps and details of Hajj, but more about the longing to go.  To seal the sweetness deal, it is about the friendship between a man, and a tree, and perfect for 3 year olds and up.

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The little tree dreams of traveling, but more than anything he dreams of going to see the Ka’aba.  Noting the logistical struggles of travel with roots, his mother encourages him to make duaa for his heart’s desires.  After a lot of patience and a lot of duaas, (alhumdulillah, it shows duaas take time and are not a magical instant granting of a wish) a young man walks by on his way to the coast to catch a boat for Mecca.  Startled by a talking tree, the clever boy just happens to have a basket and he uproots the tree and they head out together.

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The book shows the two doing all the steps in a large two page illustration, keeping the text to a minimum.   On the next page though, it highlight the two praying and trimming their hair and leaves. When the tree is returned to his mother, she is watered with Zam Zam water and “they agree it is the sweetest water ever tasted.”

The friendship continues, as they journey on countless adventures, and in the end, when the man is old and the tree is too big, the old man returns to rest on the tree’s roots and tell stories to the nearby saplings.

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Written in both English and Arabic, the story is a fast read that holds even the little one’s attention as they look at the expressive illustrations.  There is additional information on the Hajj rituals page, but it can be used according to need, like the glossary in the back.  The story is for Muslim children and families as it does not explain the requirements of Hajj, importance of the Ka’aba, or history of the rituals.

 

Hamza Learns About Hajj by Ameena Chaudhry

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Hamza Learns About Hajj by Ameena Chaudhry

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This isn’t my favorite Hamza book, which is unfortunate, because it presents some really good information in a way different than all the other children’s Hajj books I’ve read. Hamza want’s to know if there is a swimming pool at Hajj or if big machines were used to build the Kabaa.  All pretty accurate questions for how a 4 year old processes what is going on, but it takes Hamza and the reader forever to get any information.  He hears about Hajj from his parents, then goes to ask his sister Aisha who tells him its one of the pillars, then goes to ask grandpa, then is glad he has learned so much about hajj, then eager to learn more…it seems like all the book does up until this point is have Hamza asking to learn, wanting to learn, and glad he has learned, but nothing he is learning is being shared with the reader!

Eventually we do learn that the Kabba is a house of worship built thousands of years ago, that it is the direction that we pray, and that Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) and his son built it.  About Hajj we learn that you have to wear white two-piece outfits, that millions of people go, and that you can only go during a special time of year.  Not a lot of information, but at the same time, for little ones, that can be a good thing.  Sometimes learning  all the names of places and rituals is cumbersome and off-putting. 

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The amount of text on the pages is minimal, and the pictures, as always, are endearing, Hamza even imagines himself bald!  I do question when the book claims, that going to Medina to visit Masjid al Nabawi is part of Hajj.

Hamza gets excited for Hajj and I think that is conveyed to the readers.  Little kids will giggle and remember that the Kabba was built by people’s hands, and that it is far away. Not bad for 3 and 4 year olds, but not enough to engage older kids, or those with some understanding of Hajj.

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