Do Muslims need stories?, New Books and Interesting Weblinks: An Ummah Reads Roundup

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Almost every other day somewhere in the world there are people talking about and actively seeking ways to promote literacy and encourage reading. Today I share with you some of the news and buzz taking place as well as some interesting sites and new books.

Muslims Reading Fiction

An article by author Umm Zakiyyah explores the issue of whether writing fiction is something allowed in Islam. She shows that if it’s acceptable to write stories for children then it should be acceptable to write stories for teenagers and young people as well. I particularly like when she said:

“… if Muslim children need books ‘for a purpose,’ Muslim teens and adults need them even more so…

As the latter group are further away from the pure fitrah of childhood and thus need more “emaan boosters” to keep going.”

Read more from the article “Is Writing Fiction Allowed? What’s Your Proof?” here.

Children’s Book Site

The Guardian (U.K) newspaper recently launched a book site dedicated to children’s literature. This site is for general kids lit but it is attractively  designed and teeming with content on general fiction children’s literature. I really like the fact that children are the ones who are doing some of the interviews (you can read some or listen to some) as well as the reviews. YOu can search by age or type of books. Check out the site here.

New Islamic Children’s Book

The publisher StoneFaruq recently brought out their newest books for younger children titled ‘One.’ according to the publisher:

“A rhyming picture book to teach children about Tawhid and other important aspects of Islam in a simple way.”

This publisher has produced some other high-quality picture-book type books for young readers such as “Time for Isha’a ” as well as “The Jolly Jamaat ” which I reviewed here.

A Smart Library

This video from Library Ireland Week showcases the smart library. Does your library look like this? Libraries are down-sizing and even closing all around the world, but especially in developed countries such as U.K. ans U.S. Yet this video shows the uniqueness of libraries and their users. A fun part was the books falling down, domino style.

Enlighten and Entertain Kids & Teens in Ramadan (Reading List)

Even during Ramadan we look for ways and means to keep our children and teenagers entertained. What better way than to do this than by providing them with a wonderful selection of informative and attractive books to read. Better yet, create a family circle time where all members of the family read Qur’an (and/or ahadeeth) listen to a story and then discuss their thoughts and feelings .     

The following is a list of books (fiction and non-fiction) that you may consider reading and sharing with your children and teens during this Ramadan [I know it seems late to be posting this list, after all half of Ramadan is over, but it’s better late than never. I am sure someone will benefit from it, inshaAllah (God Willing)]:     

Note: I have read all the titles listed here and personally recommend them. You will find a brief summary of each title and clicking on a title will take you to the publisher or online bookstore.     


Ramadan Reading for young children (4-7 years):

Pizza in his pocket. Learning to be thankful to Allah by Jawah Abdul Rahman (Goodword Books)     

A simple picture book with a big message. Young readers  meet a little boy who learns that while Allah has given him a variety of food (think of baklava, samosas and pizza, of course), he should not overeat. When he meets a hungry girl, he decides to do something good with all the food he has. For ages 4-7.      

A Time to Give by Mennah I. Bakkar (Arab Scientific Publishers)     

A lovely picture book that introduces the concept of charity to young children and the importance of giving to those in need. For ages 5-8.     

A to Z of Akhlaaq. Moral values for children by Sr. Nafees Khan (Goodword Books)     

Each page introduces a moral o ra good habit every Muslim child should learn and practice, from truthfulness to generosity to patience. Vibrant illustrations depict children in various situations which help to make abstract concepts easy to understand. This book would be great not only for parents to read-aloud to their children, but for teachers (Islamic or weekend school) to use in their Islamic studies lessons. For ages 4-9.     

The Kind Man and the Thirsty Dog (Upright Series 1) by Umar and Salimah Salim (Al-Hidaayah)     

Beautiful illustrations and simple narration describes a hadith narrated by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) about the man who Allah forgave because of his kindness to a thirsty dog. For ages 4-6.        

Allah Gave Me Two Ears to Hear by Amrana Arif (The Islamic Foundation)     

Beautiful watercolour illustrations draw young readers into the world of a little girl as she describes the wonders she hears in the world around her using her ears. Children will love to chime in the refrain on every page, “Allah gave me two ears to hear…” This book is part of “Allah the Maker Series” which cover the five senses and includes these titles as well: Allah Gave me Two Hands and Feet, Allah Gave me a Nose to Smell, Allah Gave me Two Eyes to See and  Allah Gave me a Tongue to Taste. For ages 4-6.     


Ramadan Reading for older children and preteens (8-11 years):

A Great Friend of Children by M. S. Kayani (The Islamic Foundation)     

A revised edition of what I consider a classic, A Great Friend of Children is a collection of six short stories about noble and beautiful actions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as he interacted with the children around him. For ages 7 to 11. [Note: I’m unsure whether this book is still available; but I do know that it is available on audio CD see here.]     

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The Fire that Saved. The Story of the Prophet Ibrahim adapted from writings by Maulana Abdul Hasan Ali Nadwi (UK Islamic Academy)     

A captivating narration of the life of the Prophet Ibrahim, this chapter book will hold the interest of older children as they read in detail about the life of this great man. For ages 8 to 11.     

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Imran Learns about Qur’an by Sajda Nazlee (Ta-Ha)     

A beautiful, simple short story about a boy named Imran who has learnt his Arabic alphabet and is about to get his own copy of a Qur’an. His natural curiosity causes him to ask many questions. His mother and father tell him all about the Quran, how it was revealed, its significance. For ages 7 to 10.    

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My Moroccan Village (Islamic Village Stories) by Luqman Nagy (Goodword Books).     

If you ever wanted to introduce your children/students to the life and history of Muslims in rural areas of another culture then this story (and the others in the series) is ideal. A boy named Abd al Hay takes us on a journey though his village located in the High Atlas mountains of Morocco. He shows how houses and the masjid are constructed, the craft-work of the villagers and the food. Also in the Islamic Village Stories series are these titles: My Turkish Village, My Yemeni Village, My Chinese Village, My Palestinian Village, and My Hausa Village. For ages 8-11.     



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The Story of the Leper, the Bald and the Blind (Upright Series 1) by Umar and Salimah Salim (Al-Hidaayah).     

A story (from a hadeeth of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) which demonstrates why we should be grateful for what Allah has blessed us with. For ages 8-11. Other titles in this series for this age group include The King, the Boy and the Sorcerer, Al Khadir and the Begger and The Man and the Gold.      


Ramadan Reading for teenagers (12-16 years):

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Companions of the Prophet by Abdul Wahid Hamid (MELS)     

The lives of thirty companions, men and women, of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) are told in a compelling, easy-to-read format in this first volume (of a two-volume set). The troubles, trials and achievements of these companions bring the richness of early Islamic history to life. For ages 12 and up.     


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Isabella. A Girl of Muslim Spain by Yahiya Emerick (IBTS)     

A beautiful story of a young girl’s courage and determination to find the truth despite the odds that face her. Set in Spain during the time of Islam’s presence and power in that country, Isabella learns and teaches Islam to those around her. For ages 11 to 16.     


 In the Prophet’s Garden. A Selection of Ahadith for the Young Compiled by Fatima M. D’Oyen and Abdelkader Chachi (The Islamic Foundation)     

This is a beautiful collection of ahadeeth on various Islamic topics including eman (faith), repentance, respect for elders, friendship, knowledge and good manners. The book includes stunning photos of nature and decorative borders that compliment the text. For ages 12 and up.     


Tell Me About Prophet Muhammad by Saniyasnain Khan (Goodword Books)     

This book is a fascinating look at the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) using photos, maps, pictures of relics and captivating narration. It is great for Islamic studies lesson or just for general reading and discussion. A list of ayat of Quranic references is included at the end. Other titles in the series are Tell Me about Prophet Yusuf, Tell me About Prophet Musa, Tell Me About the Hajj and Tell Me about the Creation. For ages 10 to 16.     


Child Companions around the Prophet translated by Sameh Strauch (Darussalam)     

Here we meet ten companions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) during their childhood and youth. Rather than narrated as a story, each chapter is subdivided into sub-sections that give a factual account of the lives of companions such as Abdullah ibn Zubair, Anas ibn Malik, Usamah bin Zaid and Hasan bin Ali to name a few. The narration shows how these young companions interacted with and benefitted from the Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the information provides good role models for our current generation of young adults. For ages 12 and up.  

Books about Ants in Islam (Book Review)

Ants on Leaf by Aarthi flickr CC

photo by Aarthi (Flickr - Creative Commons)


 The dry scorching heat has driven many ants inside. They are all over the apartment but can be found especially crawling on the kitchen floors. My son likes feeding them with crumbs from his plate. In the bathroom they bravely seek a drink from the tub of water that is sitting to cool.    

As simple as ants may be, their presence in our home has encouraged my son and I to talk about many things from the science the ants (how they live, what they eat, the parts of the ant) to the place of ants in Islam; there is a surah named An-Naml (The Ants), the story of Prophet Suleiman’s ability to hear the ants and the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) mercy to the ants approaching the fire.    

Here are three entertaining books that bring the world of ants in Islam into the lives of children:

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 The Army Walks Through the Valley  is a short and simple story of the Prophet Sulayman’s ability to hear animals communicate; one of these being ants. Young readers will find the illustrations appealing as they learn about the incident when Prophet Sulayman and his army were travelling through the valley.    

 Title: The Army Walks Through the Valley    

 Author: Saniyasnain Khan   

 Publisher: Goodword Books    

 ISBN: 8178981629 (paperback); 8178981610 (hardcover)   

 Reading Level: 3-4 years (Read Aloud); 4-6 years (Read on Own)    

Amr adn the Ants book cover

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Older children will learn more about the science of ants and being kind to animals in  Amr and the Ants. Amr is fascinated by the ants in his front yard but is shocked when another boy finds delight in squashing them with his shoes. As the story progresses Amr learns more about ants in Islam from the stories his parents tell him and from doing research. He even decides to keep an ant farm.  This book is part of the Young Muslim Nature Series which includes Ali and the Spider and Maryam and the Trees.    

Title: Amr and the Ants    

 Author: Rowaa El-Magazy    

 Publisher: Islamic Foundation    

 ISBN: 0860373304    

 Reading Level: 6 – 10 years    

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Love all Creatures is a collection of stories based on hadeeth about the way in which the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was caring and merciful toward animals. The first story in this book is titled “The Little Ants.” It tells of how the Prophet saved a colony of ants from the heat of a nearby campfire.  

Title: Love All Creatures    

Author: M. S. Kayani   

Publisher: Islamic Foundation   

ISBN: 9780860370772   

Reading Level: 8 – 12 years

Muslim Tree

My apologies for not posting much lately, especially in terms of reviews. That is because I have been working on the author interview for next month. I am happy to say that I had a great opportunity to interview the author of some well-known Muslim children’s and teenager’s books. So stay tuned and check back on the 1st of June when I announce all the happenings here on the blog.

In the meantime I want to share with you some really neat products I found at Muslim Tree. The company produces Islamic educational and motivational products such as posters, books, personal journals that can be used in the home, school or even weekend Islamic school. Magnets, place mats and calendars are also to be added to their collections.

There are only two books listed on the website; one about performing wudu and the other on how to pray. I have not seen the books in print, but from the preview on the website, I must say that I like that these books are written with rhyming sentences. It will not only make them fun to read and but make learning easier. What’s more customers can have the books personalised to include a child’s name in the title and in the story. This makes the books great to give as gifts or as prizes (for a teacher/school for example). I am looking forward to other books that this company has to offer in the future.