by Rana Asfour
While many around the world are busy finalising their plans for the summer holidays, Muslims around the world are gearing up for their biggest month of the year: Ramadan.
Depending on moon sightings, the month of fasting from dawn until dusk is expected to commence on June 7 or 8 and as such the mad dash to stock up and get ready is well under way (for more on that, check out this article I once wrote for the UK's The Guardian HERE).
This post, however, is really in answer to those who have sent in emails requesting book recommendations on the subject of Ramadan and fasting, particularly for children. Most writers have been expats recently located to the Middle East & Gulf region, eager to explore the nuances of the new culture to which they have arrived. Other enquirers have been from parents (particularly Muslims with Arabic as a second language) wanting to resource books on Ramadan in the English language for the benefit of their children.
Last year, I posted a very similar post listing book recommendations on Ramadan. (Check those HERE). What follows are two more recent publications that have also caught my attention available at Jarir Bookstore, UAE.
Please feel free to send in any titles that you feel are relevant or simply add them to the 'comments' section at the end of this post :)
'Hurray It's Ramadan' by Mennah I. Bakkar/ Illustrated by Rena Karanouh (Arabic Scientific Publishers 2007)
Meet the twins, Tarek and Jana. They are six years old. Join them and their friends on a journey of discovering what it means to be a little Moslem and learn about the five pillars of Islam. Other books in the series include: 'I Am A Little Moslem', 'Let's Pray', 'A Time to Give', 'A Visit to the Kaaba'.
Very enjoyable book with modern and fresh illustrations. The characters are current and the story very clearly, and in simple terms defines Islamic terms such as Fasting, Iftar, Suhur, Zakat and Eid. These words along with other words conveying positive social messages are highlighted in various colours across the book allowing them to stand out rendering them more memorable to the reader.
The story is narrated by the twins who are happy to participate in what is mainly a month of worship but also a month to celebrate the blessings around them such as family and friends and along the 30 days learn about patience, appreciation, and thankfulness as they wait in glee for new clothes and presents that mark 'Eid' and the end of Ramadan.
'I Like Fasting' by Ömer Baldik/ Illustrated by Ahmet Kesgin (Timas Publishing Group, 2014)
Part of the 'I'm Learning My Religion' Series, this book targeting 5-7 year olds is packed with information on Ramadan. Big bold illustrations are current and relevant to today's child, depicting a child who is ready to fast the whole 30 days of Ramadan for the first time. To help her on her way, she has googled 'Ramadan Poems' to download from her computer.
Children will learn WHY Muslims fast, as well as information on the three holy months in Islam (Rajab, Shaban and Ramadan) as well as a number of holy days that are marked within these months such as Lailat ul-Mi'raj and Lailat ul-Qader (The Night of Power which falls on the 27th night of Ramadan and is said to be better than one thousand months of worship).
Children will learn about Eid and giving to the poor (Zakah) as well as some health benefits to fasting (physical and psychological).
But let not this wealth of information put you off reading this to your young child. The story flows beautifully and these topics are merely touched upon without too much detail. Paired with the very lovely illustrations, this book is a real delight.