I debated posting about this book for so long that Ramadan is more than half over. But as a reference for years to come, I thought I should go ahead and throw my late support toward this Ramadan tradition and a book deserving of space on your shelf for children 4th grade and up. I’ve seen people praising it for a few years, and finally I ordered it this year, however, I wanted to not only read it, but also test it out first: reading a story a day, discussing and asking the correlating questions with my own children, before reporting back. I cannot and thus won’t comment on the accuracy of authenticity of the book, nothing stood out as erroneous to me and there is a bibliography at the back, but there is a reason I try and steer clear of non fiction, I’m just not qualified to comment.
The book starts with the birth of Prophet Muhammad (saw) and ends with the selection of Abu Bakr (ra) as the first Khalifah. Each chapter is between one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half pages and the 30 chapters plus one Eid day chapter (so a total of 31), covers 103 pages in all. There are a few pictures of where the Battle of Badr took place, the Cave of Hira, not many. There are three questions at the back of the book for each of the chapters, but no answers. The book is pretty linear, just the second chapter bounces back to Prophet Abraham (as) and Hagar and the story of Zamzam and then the rebuilding of the Ka’bah. It is a glorified timeline, which in this case is a good thing. It doesn’t go off on tangents or provide a ton of outside references, it is concise and general, but hits the key parts: marriage to Khadijah, first revelation, migration to Abyssinia, Taif, Hijrah, treatment of slaves, year of sorrow, Battle of Badr, Battle of Uhud, Treaty of Hudaibiyah, it talks of tensions with various tribes, coming to an agreement about the Khalifah, and more.
I think younger children might possibly be able to have the short chapters read to them and then explained, but really, it would be a lot to process. The words are simplified and the gist of situations are conveyed, but topics aren’t necessarily shied away from. It discusses that Prophet Muhammad (saw) had more than one wife, and that there were slaves, and there were tensions with the Jews, and Bilal was tortured, all things that picture books might skip over.
WHY I LIKE IT:
I like that even my young teen could read and involve herself without feeling like the exercise was childish. Many of the answers are open ended in nature and require more than just a one word answer. It allows for children to add other facts that they know about RasulAllah to the dialogue and make connections to our history with our current life very easily. Even children that know the story of Prophet Muhammad (saw) will find the book engaging and smooth enough to read through again (and hopefully again each Ramadan) and learn new tidbits, understand concepts more clearly and be reminded about the beauty of our Prophet.
TOOLS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:
If I was a teacher, I would definitely start each morning reading a chapter and doing the Q and A, whether it was Ramadan or not. I think we need to be more connected to our Prophet and grow our love and appreciation for him, so books like this are such a great tool in accomplishing that goal.