Tag Archives: inshaAllah

Like the Moon Loves the Sky by Hena Khan illustrated by Saffa Khan

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Like the Moon Loves the Sky by Hena Khan illustrated by Saffa Khan

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This 40 page book of prose begins each stanza with “InshaAllah” and reads as a beautiful prayer from parent to child.  Each two page spread is filled with warm vibrant colors and illustrations that radiate love while complementing the slow pace the book is meant to be read with.D900B288-5527-4519-8EDF-EE830D3A464D

The book is clearly from an Islamic perspective, yet I think any religious family would find beauty in the book.  The author has a note on the title page that defines inshaAllah as meaning God willing in Arabic and explains how it is a common wish/prayer for people of other cultures and faiths as well.  She also explains that that each line is inspired by the Quran, but universal for people everywhere.

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Some of my favorites are:”InshaAllah you seek knowledge, reflect, and read, InshaAllah you speak truth and work for its sake. InshaAllah you have faith that won’t waiver or bend. InshaAllah you are kind to those most in need.”

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The illustrations show a family that at times wears hijab and at others does not.  It shows multiple generations, and diverse characters in terms of skin color and mobility.  The illustrations at first weren’t my favorite, but they definitely grow on you.

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Over all the story reads like a lullaby, and is soft and sweet at bedtime particularly.  The 10 x 10 size would make it work well in groups as well, and I could see it used to lull kids to sleep at nap time with great success for the youngest baby to early elementary.

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If Allah Allah Wills by Dr. Oz illustrated by Mariya Khan

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Not all books need to teach something, but when the book would lend it self so easily to dropping a fact or two, it seems like it would take it.  In 40 pages, preschoolers are taken on a highly imaginative journey to the Ka’ba, yet no information about the history of the Ka’ba, or any mention of Umrah or Hajj is shared, not even in passing.

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Faris wants to go to the Ka’ba but it is nearly his bedtime, so he has to act fast.  He asks his mom what he needs to wear, obviously knowing special clothes are required, but his mom prefaces the answer of white sheets as being “odd” and then adds that you need sandals.  For a book that wants to normalize Islam for children, I don’t understand why the mom would say that ihram is odd, why the word ihram isn’t used, why it doesn’t even specify the number of white pieces of unstitched cloths and why sandals would be included.

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Faris then finds two white sheets, but the illustration shows him getting towels out of the bathroom (possibly showing his imagination, but kids will just think it is an error, mine did), packing some food and jumping on his rocking horse to head off for the Ka’ba.

Faris finds himself among the stars without a map and starts to worry that he won’t find his way.  He then sees a flock of birds and wonders how they know where to go.  The book however, doesn’t answer how birds know, and just has him land and find someone to ask.

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Luckily Faris finds a camel to ask, and luckily he is a nice camel and he shows Faris to the Ka’ba.  Faris is surprised at how big it is and then supposes that Allah’s house has to be.  But he asks it as a question, which makes it a little off grammatically.  The camel points out that Allah swt is above and that the Ka’ba is for people to visit.  Faris asks what is supposed to be done at the Ka’ba and the camel answers, “We circle the Ka’ba, pray to Allah, and thank Him.”  This seems like a great place to sneak in some facts about who built the Ka’ba and why or mention Hajj or Umrah, it seems so misguided to just say we circle it.

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Faris makes some prayers that he can return for real one day with his parents before he finds a place to eat his snack and share his food with his camel.  It is nice that he shares with his new friend, but odd that when they part Faris asks him his name and he says he doesn’t have one.  Maybe give him a name, and detail its meaning or don’t include the exchange at all.  I seriously don’t understand the purpose of the exchange.

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Faris makes is home with a crash and his mom tidies him up and they say InshaAllah that Faris’ prayer inshaAllah will come to fruition.

The book has a great premise of imagination and tying in the Ka’ba, but truly there is no information about Islam or the Ka’ba or even Allah swt, it gives a mood of worship, but that is about it.  I get that it is for little kids and the book is supposed to be whimsical and light, but sneak in some facts, kids can handle it.

As for the illustrations, they are just ok.  They would have benefitted from being a little smoother and not looking home-done, but there is nothing terribly wrong with them aside from the towel and sheet imagery.    The glossary cover and large font inside is age appropriate, some pages are a bit text heavy, but overall sufficient.

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Basirah the Basketballer says Insha’Allah by Hafsah Dabiri illustrated by Alina Shabelnyk

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Basirah the Basketballer says Insha’Allah by Hafsah Dabiri illustrated by Alina Shabelnyk

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Another sports book starring a smart girl with a supportive father, seems like a trend, and I like it.  The book is relatable to ages 5 and up whether they play basketball or not, and will remind even slightly older children how “insha’Allah” really works.  It features a girl, but boys will gain a lot from the book as the lessons are for us all.

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Basirah loves basketball and with supportive teammates and mad skills, she should be a shoo-in for team captain.  But when her dad reminds her that if it hasn’t happened yet she needs to say insha’Allah, she realizes the power of leaving things to God.  

Testing out her new knowledge of asking God to make happen things she really, really wants, over many of the 30 pages in the story, makes the climax that much stronger and her dad’s wisdom that much more memorable. I’m trying not to spoil the story, even though it is a children’s picture book, it isn’t without a bit of tension and resolution that really makes the book shine.

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This book can be taken at face value with a little bit of a lesson for little ones, or a lot deeper for more reflective readers.  Understanding that things we ask God for often come or don’t come to test us, is a lesson we all need. I hope if read with an adult, the adult will also push the listener to consider why we should do things in the first place, what are intentions are, as Basirah leaves the door open for that discussion at the end, but doesn’t quite articulate it for independent readers.

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I love that at home Basirah is not covered, but is when she is out.  I love that her school is diverse with students of different colors and head coverings and that her coach is female and a muhajaba as well.  I love that Basirah and her father seem incredibly close, and that she listens to him, and he to her, before lessons are espoused and course of action plotted.  The book is not preachy, but lessons are there and the reader will get “it” right along with Basirah allowing her strength to radiate off the page and inshaAllah empower the reader as well.

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I find it interesting that the book doesn’t mention Allah and uses the word God, given that the phrase the book focuses around is insha’Allah.  I would imagine the intended audience is Muslim, but there is not specific mention of Islam.  It would work for non Muslims, but I think they would wonder why she says such a phrase and where it comes from.

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Basirah is presumably in middle school, as she has multiple classes and can bake a cake independently, her age seems a bit fluid, but many 11-14 year olds do tend to be independent in some areas and rather clueless in others, so while I did notice that she seems very naive in knowing what insha’Allah means and how it works in some parts of the story and very mature, and hijab wearing, and willing to grow from her situation in others, I’ve concluded it is plausible.

The book is 8.5 x 11 vertical, well bound, shiny glossy full color pages with clear and easily readable font.  The sentence length and amount of text on the page is not too overwhelming and the spacing keeps it inviting for new fluent readers.  

I love that Ruqaya’s Bookshelf (https://ruqayasbookshelf.com/) has new books out, three to be exact.  Whether the stories work or don’t work for you, I think their presentation and quality, give the books a longevity and find themselves being pulled out for different kids, at different times, when different lessons are needed.  They are well packaged in terms of illustrations and colors and size for the most part, and when I hear they are publishing new stories, I find myself ordering them without even reading the content synopsis.  Thank you for helping get these stories out, may Allah swt reward you!