Author: Suhaib Hamid Ghazi
Illustrator: Omar Rayyan
Publisher: Holiday House
Describes the celebration of the month of Ramadan by an Islamic family and discusses the meaning and importance of this holiday in the Islamic religion.
- The author introduces the story by with what assalamualaikum means and what Islam means
- Then it touches on how lunar calendars work and that Ramadan is the 9th month. The author then talks about how Allah started revealing the Quran during Ramadan and compares that the Quran is a holy book like how the Bible and Torah is for others.
- The story then follows Hakeem’s family as they look for the crescent moon with an explanation of how muslims congratulate each other with “Ramadan Mubarak”. Then there’s detail of how Muslims don’t eat or drink for a month and a fast lasts all day long unlike in other religions where they fast for a day or two.
- “Muslims are allowed to eat until the break of dawn, when there is enough light to see the difference between a black thread and a white thread” – In addition to the details of suhoor and praying fajr, I found this very unique in a children’s book.
- The author talks about Hakeems day at school and how it can be a little hard for kids to fast, but not in a discouraging way.
- There is a page that talks about people who don’t need to fast.
- A page about iftar shows how Hakeem and his siblings set the table while his mom makes the dinner feast. After iftar the family prays Maghrib together where it details that the father leads the prayer and they pray in little rows.
- Then the story talks about the special dinner Hakeem’s family has, followed by the family spending some quality time together.
- Hakeems family goes to the Mosque for Taraweeh, and the story touches on bringing food for poor people who have not been able to break their fasts properly.
- The next page has details about how people pray behind the imam where everyone stands shoulder to shoulder and women pray in the back.
- It also talks about calling guests over for iftar and sharing meals with them.
- Then the author talks about Zakat, and the money is given back to the community and various ways it can be used. It also mentions that Zakah in the time of the Prophet PBUH was collected to free slaves.
- The story ends with information about Eid ul Fitr and that Muslims from all over the world in Hakeem’s community come together to celebrate. This page talks about diversity, followed by information on the Eid sermon, and how muslims thank Allah.
- The last page is about how Ramadan can be the most difficult month but also the best month for Muslims, with a few lines recapping what Ramadan is about and ending with “Hakeem cannot wait until next year”
- The book has a glossary at the end.
Why I like it:
- It’s a comprehensive book that covers a variety of topics related to Ramadan: Meaning of Assalamulaikum and Islam in Arabic, lunar calnedars, Quran, the phrase “Ramadan Mubarak”, details of fasting, suhoor, iftar, prayer, sharing food with others, zakat, taraweeh prayer, eid-al-fitr and diversity in the muslim population.
Things that could be improved:
- There could’ve been an asterisk after Muhammad and explanation that we say Peace Be Upon Him when we say the Prophet’s name.
- They could’ve omitted the word cigarettes.
I divide books into three main categories:
Type 1: These are basically “Ramadan Awareness” books with a brief introduction mainly for non muslims with little to no islamic words/concepts. These are excellent for public school classrooms. (ie. Curious George Ramadan book)
Type 2: Something more comprehensive and includes why we fast without being too overwhelming. This works well for both muslims and non-muslims (ie. Ramadan around the World)
Type 3: These books are made for Muslim kids with lots of details, or to be shared with Non-muslim family members, or people who really want to learn more
This book is the third category with lots of details. It’s a story about Hakeem and his Ramadan journey. It’s not exactly a “fun” story because there’s lots of information with lots of explanations. It has a few lines of story followed by a paragraph or two of explanation. It’s a good resource for Muslim children, but I wouldn’t be sending it in for a class story time.
*A really odd thing to include in this story was the mention of cigarettes. “They will not be allowed to put anything in their mouths, even such things as chewing gum or cigarettes”. Even though the book was initially published in 1996, in my opinion they could’ve definitely left out cigarettes in the later editions.