Poem for the Day: Be Thankful!

Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,

If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don’t know something

For it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.

During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations

Because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge

Because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes

They will teach you valuable lessons.

Be thankful when you’re tired and weary

Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.

A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are also

thankful for the setbacks.

GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.

Find a way to be thankful for your troubles and they

can become your blessings.

 – Anonymous

 

SOURCE: Jannah.org (Some Islamic Poems)

A Boy from Makkah (Book Review)

 

“We’re almost there, Ahmad!” my father said, “We’re almost in Makkah!” The cheerful tone was apparently meant to encourage me to walk on, though my father himself looked exhausted, having covered such a long road from our native village, Beni Faham, on foot.” 


 

So begins A Boy from Makkah, a moving story that chronicles the life of Ahmad from childhood into adulthood. It is at once warming and rewarding to read. At times, especially in the beginning, the story will evoke deep emotions in the reader. 

A Boy from Makkah is an English translation of the Arabic novel al-Yad as SuflaaThe Lower Hand by Muhammad Abdo Yamani. The reader follows Ahmad, a boy from the desert who is forced to leave his home and work in Makkah to help support his poor family. For ten years Ahmad works as a house boy to various wealthy Makkan families never once returning to his home in the desert so that he begins to regard Makkah, and his master’s family as his own family and home.   

Ahmad, despite his background, exemplifies the meaning of hard work, sacrifice and patience in his approach to life. First shaken by his distance from his family, his first work experience exposes the young boy to unkindness. He quickly moves on to work with a kinder employer only to be uprooted a few months later because of a death in the family. His last and final employer, who he worked for many years for, proves to be the life changing element in the boy’s life when he encourages and supports Ahmad’s education (primary, secondary and eventually tertiary). 

But while Ahmad may appear to be almost perfect, he does have weaknesses. He finds himself falling in love with his master’s daughter, Aziza. Ahmad thinks that he is not ‘good enough’ for Aziza. His feelings and emotions toward her are described in a sensitive but not sexual way. Moreover, the author portrays how love could develop in an Islamic way between two people without them getting involved in romantic courtship as depicted  in mainstream literature for young adults. 

Talking Points: This book presents a lot of issues to discuss. While the first person narration used for most of the book may make it difficult for reading aloud, parents/teachers may want to read this book simultaneously with the child/student and pause to discuss various problems and issues. Some of the latter are: social inequality, child labour, sacrifice, love and education as a means of social mobility. Ahmad’s life of hardship and how he overcame them through struggle, perseverance and trust in Allah are good characteristics worth discussing among youth at home and in the classroom.  

A Boy from Makkah by Muhammad Abdo Yamani is a novel written in clear prose with vivid imagery. It is a refreshing read amongst books available for young adults in general. Muslim parents and young adults themselves, looking for a positive role model will find one in the character Ahmad. It is recommended for the age group 13+ (i.e. young adults). 

Title: A Boy from Makkah 

Author: Muhammad Abdo Yamani 

Publisher: IQRA’ International Educational Foundation 

Date: 2002 

ISBN: 1563160579 

No. of pages: 150 

Age Group: 13+ (Young Adult)

Amira’s Totally Chocolate World (Book Review)

Amira's Totally Chocolate World Book CoverOne day while Amira was sitting in her garden and eating a chocolate candy bar she had an idea – a great idea!
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the whole world were made of chocolate? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if it were a totally chocolate world!
  


Amira wishes to live in a world made of chocolate. She dreams about how wonderful it would be to live in a world where everything tasted like chocolate from the flowers to the ocean and the rain. The night before Eid she goes to bed full of anticipation for the next day. But she awakes to find her dream has come true. Everything has turned to chocolate and Amira spends the day enjoying her totally chocolate world until she remembers that it is Eid and decides to return home. On the way back she realizes that she misses the beautiful colours and scents of the garden and nature. Could the world as Allah made it be better than a world made of chocolate?  

We fall in love with Amira from the beginning of the book. Like many children, she wishes for something without thinking of what it means and what would happen if the world really was made of chocolate. This book provides an opportunity to reflect on all the things in our lives that we should appreciate.  

The text is appropriate for the intended age group. However, at times it is difficult to read because it is not clearly separated from the full-page illustrations. While the illustrations representing the chocolate world were well done, the colours used for Amira’s real world could have been more vibrant.  

Amira’s Totally Chocolate World is an advanced picture book recommended for ages 5 – 7, but even children a bit younger and a bit older would appreciate this book.  

Talking Points: After reading the book have children/students use their imaginations to think, discuss and write about what kind of world they would like to live in. As a follow –up activity make a list with your children/students of all the things in their life that they appreciate and would not change.   

Title: Amira’s Totally Chocolate World
Author: J. Samia Mair
Illustrator: Craigh Howarth
Publisher: The Islamic Foundation
Date: 2009