This 38 page large hard back picture book is absolutely beautiful: the illustrations, the tone, the thickness of the pages, all come together to create a child’s wonderment about the power of salah and dua with grounding in the actual parts of prayer. On my first reading the imaginative “magical” aspects of the prayer rug, “Sajjadati,” was sweet and endearing, but as I thought about the story and then reread it, I had some concerns. I know the book is meant for children, I know I am a reviewer and thus am over analyzing it, so I point the following out as a “heads up” so to speak, and for you to make your own decisions if the literal text will be misleading or if the overall mood of the book will be taken as loving dua and the closeness prayer brings one to Allah swt.
The book starts with a little boy recalling when he got his green prayer rug from his grandma, that has his name on the corner (in the illustration it is centered on the top, not in the corner) and him naming the prayer rug, “Sajjadati.” The following page, same spread, then says, “When I have Sajjadati with me, I can pray anywhere. And when I pray on Sajjadati, I can go anywhere.” These lines give me pause, because even if the prayer rug is lost or not with him as he grows up, he is still going to need to pray. The importance of the prayer rug seems over elevated, albeit sweet, religiously a little unsettling. The second of the two lines, about going anywhere, is also a bit of a gateway to the rest of the book and almost encouraging one’s mind to wander during salah.
The next page gets back on track saying that starting to pray and saying “Allahu Akbar” leaves this world behind, the little boy says surahs he has memorized, and knows Allah swt is watching him. He asks Allah for what he wants, and his imagination takes him on adventures after each salah. He imagines flying, and being a superhero.
The story then returns to being in prayer, not after, and going in to ruku. The text has him imagining he is in the “biggest candy store in the universe” wondering if Jannah has rivers of chocolate before standing up straight again saying “Sami Allahu liman hamidah,” and contemplating if there is a place where his prayers would be worth more and Sajjadati taking him to al-Aqsa.
In sujud Sajjadati tickles his nose, but he doesn’t mind because he is closest to Allah swt in this position, and while he won’t let his “annoying little sister,” bother him, his mind does drift to being on a boat in the sea with seagulls squawking, “salaam.”
Hamza is then making dua for those suffering. Since nothing is impossible when making dua, he is also asking for pets from the savanna, but knowing that Allah swt will provide what is best. He makes duas to go for hajj and concludes his salah by folding up Sajjadati and finding peace in Allah swt being al-Mujeeb.
I love the heartfelt framing of salah and the interweaving of both real and whimsical wants, as well as the sprinkling of facts about prayer into the story, but I honestly struggled a bit with the juxtaposition of the parts of prayer with the day dreaming elements. I also struggled with the tenses, and find myself constantly rewording this review to reflect the book’s timeline. Hamza is with his family, for example, hearing the current event news, while the next set of pages has him back making dua at the end of the prayer he started at the beginning of the book. And the hearing the news and the praying for people is all being conveyed in the present tense, not clear if he recalled hearing about strife in the world and then made dua, or paused heard and resumed his prayer, it all seemingly happening at once, but that doesn’t really make sense. The title also says dua, not salah, and so much of the book is about prayer, that I feel like the two get conflated erroneously, and dreaming big during dua is different than having your mind wander during your salah.
The book starts with an ayat from the Quran in Arabic text and meaning of the translation in English and concludes with a glossary and space to complete a Dua List.
If this book seems like a good fit for your young child, I ordered mine from Crescent Moon Store and you if you use my initials ISL (Islamic School Librarian) at checkout you’ll save 10%.
As a Muslim, my prayer mat is a treasured possession. It’s a symbol of my faith and a reminder of my connection to Allah. I couldn’t imagine praying without it.