It has been a long time since I took Arabic in college, so I read the book, then read it again, then wrote down all the Arabic words and realized that there are 11 words in addition to “al Hob” the word for love, and that al Hob is mentioned three times in the manner of a poetic refrain. I also didn’t grasp the first time that the book is a journey of a refugee family and the types of love are them in different phases of their journey. Once I got it, I’m not sure how I missed it, but I think the layers that the book allows for actually widens the appeal to a larger audience. I know for many Muslims seeing a 40 page picture book about love will raise some eye brows and wonder about what relationships are shown. There are a few phrases that imply romantic love most illustrated abstractly, one shows a bride and groom on their wedding day (al-Ishq), there are also an elderly hetero couple in front of the Dome of the Rock (Showq). The story follows one family and their suitcase is rainbow colored and when depicting loving one’s neighbors (al-Mahabba), there are rainbow stripes on the fence, if a rainbow means or doesn’t mean something to you I simply share what is there. There is friendship love (al-Wud) and familial relationship love, and love from pets (al- Walaa’) and love felt for those gone too soon (al-Haneen). The Arabic script for each word of love and the lyrical English string together the concept of different forms of love with the illustrations telling the story. There is nothing particularly Islamic in the book, but there are visible Muslims in the illustrations and the masjid in Palestine.
I’m obviously not an Arab speaker, so if I misunderstood a term, forgive me, I don’t want to list all the terms, because that would give away too much of the book, but as a non Arab the book is heartfelt and moving and I’m sure for Arab speakers the feelings would be amplified.
The book was released in Australia in 2022 you can purchase it from Book Depository and will be released in America in 2023, you can preorder it here.