Tag Archives: Jannah

My Baba’s House: A Poem of Hope by Dr. Amani Mugasa illustrated by Eman Salem

My Baba’s House: A Poem of Hope by Dr. Amani Mugasa illustrated by Eman Salem

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I wanted to love this Islamic centered children’s book about grief, but I found it a bit problematic and misleading.  I am by no means an expert in Islamic matters of death or in psychological bereavement, but the note at the beginning of the book- if I wasn’t already going to look at it critically- really raised some warning flags.  It says that the book is not an instructional book on Aqeedah, that even though the title and whole story is about a house being built that “the book only expresses the idea that we hope and pray that Baba’s good deeds will lead him to Jannah, that that the rest of the family will meet him there one day, not that he is there already.” So, before you even start the story, it seems that the disclaimer is making it clear that this book is not religiously accurate, and that it is just meant to soothe and provided hope.  After taking all that in to consideration, and reading the 26 pages of text over a dozen times, I think I finally pinpointed why the book further reads problematic for me.  It is the repeating phrase, “Your Baba has been building a beautiful house for you,”  because he hasn’t right? He has built a house for himself through his good deeds in this duniya, he benefited HIS parents by being a righteous Muslim.  The words “for you” completely take the book in my head from being a slight suspension of timing where the deceased are, in to be misleading.  So if the book is not accurately framed and only to be taken as something “to open the discussion,” what is the point? Why fill it with Islamic references and concepts, if they will then have to be clarified, corrected, and re taught?  Sigh, I’m happy to listen to those that want to change my mind, truly I am.


The rhyming book starts out with a mom and two kids being consoled by the text that their Baba has been building a house for them with Allah’s help.  That it is amongst the flowers, made with Allah’s powers. That with every good deed he did, their Baba becomes a builder, that there are pure rivers and trees, and that the house is hidden through Allah’s gate.


To find their Baba’s house they will walk with Prophets, and see ripe fruits, and smell sweet musk.  There will be rivers of milk and he will carry them above his head.  The illustrations on this page are a little off in my opinion the shadows of a person elevating and even the girl looks a little concerned.


I like that the next spread addresses that only Allah knows when the day will come that we reunite. And then the next pages tell how the children can help decorate their Baba’s house by calling adhaan, reading Qur’an, being kind, giving charity, and making duas.


The book concludes with encouraging patience and finding reassurance in knowing we belong to Allah and to Him we return.

With the exception of the one page, the illustrations are adequate and show a mixed racial family.  The rhyming lines are rather weak, and ultimately there are just better books out there about grief that don’t have to be so qualified for accuracy.

Paradise is Oh So Nice (Islamic Edition) by Halimah Bashir illustrated by Laila Ramadhani Ritonga

Paradise is Oh So Nice (Islamic Edition) by Halimah Bashir illustrated by Laila Ramadhani Ritonga

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This adorably illustrated 40 page rhyming book about jannah explores just how generous and amazing the ultimate goal of obtaining paradise can be, as seen from a child’s perspective.  Preschool and up will enjoy the illustrations and cadence the book tries to adhere to, as well as the silly manifestations of everything and anything the characters in the book can imagine.


According to the publisher, Prolance, there are two versions of the book: “In the Islamic edition, we’ve included verbiage that relates to the Muslim audiences, added a fun Quran search activity & a song!”  Additionally, the word Allah is written in Arabic and there is an ayat from the Quran at the beginning of the book.


There isn’t really a story it is more a glorified list of all the things you could have (inshaAllah) in paradise.   The set-up is a mom discussing it with her two small children at bedtime. The book doesn’t give too much information about what you have to do to get to heaven aside from mentioning being patient and being believers.


The book surprisingly does a pretty good job of not getting too silly or carried away with it self.  It manages to include that there will be rivers made of milk and honey, that there are levels of jannah, that there will be castles and we will know which is ours, and that the greatest gift will be to see Allah swt.


Naturally, it seems with every kids book about heaven, the majority anyway, focus a ton on food, this one does branch out a bit from the dreams of ice cream mountains  and curly fries for hair, to flowers growing shoes and dinosaurs for pets, but not a whole lot.


The book is fun, but with most Prolance books it seems, the price is a bit steep.  The book is hardback, the inside pages are not glossy, but have a decent weight and feel to them.  The 8.5 x 8.5 pages make it work better for bedtime than a large group as the illustrations are the best part of the book and they are pretty detailed and small in places.

I Will Not Clean My Room by Saharish Arshad illustrated by Elsa Estrada

I Will Not Clean My Room by Saharish Arshad illustrated by Elsa Estrada

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What a great premise for a children’s book, a little boy, Musa,  does not want to clean his room, and imagines all the better things he will get to do in Jannah (heaven) instead. Luckily for his room, his sister comes to help him tidy it up, as well as his mom and dad.  FullSizeRender (25)

The rhyme scheme and the kids’ imaginations at how wonderful Jannah will be, go hand in hand and make the book silly and fun.  The cartoonish illustrations also help sneak in messages of listening to your parents, cleaning your room, being kind to your siblings, helping each other, and ultimately doing things even if they are hard or boring to please Allah swt.  

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The book is a 28 page, 8×8, paperback.  The price is a little steep, $12, for its structure, in my opinion and is meant for Muslim readers.  The only real issue I had is when the mom threatens to flounce Musa. “Stop jumping and bouncing, or you’ll get a flouncing,”  seems excessive to me, and not consistent with how loving the family is throughout the rest of the book. It was probably included to maintain the rhyme scheme, but I took it to be a threat of violence, which I’m not ok with.

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The pictures show the mom in hijab, the word Jannah instead of heaven is used, the characters’ names are Islamic and Allah is mentioned throughout.  Musa’s thoughts on the last page are particularly sweet (see picture below).  I plan to read this to a group of kids at story time and will just omit the flouncing line, as it does well in appealing to ages 4 and up.  Three year olds may not understand it, but because of the rhyming, I think they will be equally entertained.

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One Hundred Ice Creams by Sumayyah Hussein illustrated by Derry Maulana



This book on my first reading reminded me a lot of Amira’s Totally Chocolate World in that it takes a religious idea, in this case Jannah or heaven, and uses a child’s excitement for a favorite food to explore it.  Not a bad technique, and alhumdulillah the author was able to stay on the idea of heaven and add some additional information then just the silliness of having all the ice cream you could imagine.  The book is 36 pages and can probably be read by a first or second grader independently and appeal to story time ages of preschool 4 and up.  The book unfortunately takes a while to get going. I struggled with the first few pages, which I found really wordy, and puzzling.  The kids seem to be about 6 years old in the illustrations and in their mannerisms, but they start off the book complaining about homework and needing a break from it, which even my own children found confusing and remarked on it.  There also seems to be some unnecessary description too, in setting the stage: the day, the vehicle, the season, that it’s their favorite park, that they haven’t been there in a while, that they took a breath of fresh air, that they waited 10 minutes, etc..

Thankfully I think once the reader’s get that the park is crowded, that the kids couldn’t enjoy the swings and slide and decide to explore the nearby woods, the story finds its rhythm and engages the reader quite well.  A few minor hiccups throughout the book are again, the abundance of details that don’t further the story and aren’t developed. The river is described when they cross the bridge, and then there is another one, or possibly the same one, as this one is now rushing, and it jars the story as there seems to be a lot of rivers in this park.   There is also a rabbit that pops up and excites the kids and then shows up at the end again, which is cute and brings the story to a happy close, but I don’t really love how the parents dismissed it.  Why not let the kids see that he is scared of them and figure out that he doesn’t know they won’t hurt him/her,  rather than have mom tell them they won’t see him again and dad quickly steering them in another direction. Granted this is my personal preference, but I like when kids figure stuff out in books and solve things themselves, rather than how perhaps it is in real life, with mom and dad constantly calling the shots.ice-creams1I really like how when discussing Jannah, they talk about the rivers of milk and honey, and I absolutely loved how they talk about Grandpa (hopefully) being in Jannah and being young and strong.  I couldn’t figure out why when in the woods and marveling at nature the characters didn’t use Islamic expressions like, mashaAllah, subhanAllah, and inshaAllah, and when I read it aloud I had to add them when we got to the pages about Grandpa.  It seemed awkward not too.  The book is clearly for Muslim children, there is a reference page in the back with the ayats from the Quran and hadeeth that tell us about Paradise, and the characters are discussing an Islamic concept, so I’m not sure why their language isn’t reflective of that.ice-creams-2

The illustrations are simple and colorful and complimentary to the story.  I don’t know why the color of the character’s skin is yellowish green.  It seems to match the ice cream and on some pages seemed more noticeable then others.  Dad’s face when he is swatting the fly is a little angry and the color of the skin makes him look mean.  Not sure why the flies are mentioned. And the illustration is not reflective of his personality in the rest of the book.

Overall the book has a good message, I think I have just loved all the books at Ruqaya’s Bookshelf so much, that my expectations may have been a little too high.  I’ve never written a book and I have no idea what the publishing process for this book was, but I feel like a a few minor adjustments from an editor or proofer would have made this book absolutely phenomenal.  That is not to say it isn’t a good book,  children undoubtedly, will get a tangible understanding of Jannah after reading the story.  An additional plus is that it is on their level in both content and in perspective, meaning that there is lots to chat about after.  Concepts that the children can discuss based on what they understood from the story with little prodding from an adult.  Points from how the kids are treated at the playground, to adding what they would want they are in Jannah, and ultimately steps we can take to increase our chances of getting there, inshaAllah.