5 of the Best Children’s Books from Timbuktu Books
Reviewed by: Aminah Patel

Goodnight Stories from the Qur’an, by Saniyasnain Khan

This charming collection is compiled of 33 Quranic stories, retold in simple language to make it accessible and understandable to young children. Filled with colourful and appropriate illustrations, this book includes short stories of the prophets (peace be upon them all) such as ‘The Ark and the Great Flood’, ‘The Night Journey’, ‘Sleepers in the Cave’ and one of my favourites, ‘The Prophet Musa (AS) meets the Wise Man’. Goodnight Stories from the Qur’an provides a basic introduction to Quranic stories, and even has an index at the back, showing where to find the stories related in the book in the Holy Qur’an, quoting chapter and verse. A lovely book to read to young children, or for older children to read alone.

Hannah and her Grandma, by Deborah A. Woodthorpe

This is the story of young Hannah and her “agnostic” Grandma. Hannah wonders at her Grandma’s lack of belief as they take a walk in the beautiful English countryside. Hannah is struck by the natural beauty surrounding them, and appreciates the creative power of the Almighty, but her Grandma does not feel the same way. Things change, however, when Hannah and her Grandma find a Roman artefact on their walk, and the intelligent young girl finds a way to illustrate the wonders of creation, and the Omnipotent nature of the Creator of the Universe. This is a wonderful book, filled with beautiful illustrations. Little wonder that it won first prize at the Islamic Foundation’s International Children’s Writing Competition.

Stories from the Muslim World, by Huda Khattab

This collection of short stories is divided into 3 sections – The Beginnings of Islam, Muslims in History, and Muslim Tales. Some of the stories related here can be found in the Holy Qur’an, some are Islamic traditions, and some are folk tales hailing from as far as China. All of the tales are steeped in spiritual significance. The notable individuals included in this collection, other than the prophets mentioned in the Holy Qur’an (peace be upon them all), include Salman the Persian, Bahira the Monk, Salahuddin Ayubi, Rabia al Adawiyya and many more. All children will love Stories from the Muslim World, but it is especially for children aged 7 +. It has a useful ‘background notes’ section briefly explaining the significance of the historical and spiritual giants mentioned as well as clarifying the importance of certain events in Islamic history. Children and adults alike will benefit from these morality tales.

Allah Gave Me Two Eyes to See…, by Fatima M. D’Oyen

This book celebrates the five senses that Allah has given us, and encourages children to thank the Creator for these gifts that we so often take for granted. Allah Gave me Two Eyes to See… can be read by the parent and easily repeated by young children with its rhyming couplet form and easy rhythm. Plenty of illustrations, and some amusing rhymes! This is part of the ‘Allah the Maker’ Series, which also includes Allah Gave Me a Tongue to Taste and Allah Gave Me a Nose to Smell.

Rashid and the Haupmann Diamond, by Hassan Radwan

This one’s for the boys! Rashid and his friends, Gary and Chris, embark on an exciting investigation after they witness a mysterious break-in at old Miss Wilson’s house. Their enquiries lead them to a path that involves the death of an RAF pilot during the Battle of Britain, and an old map marking the location of the Haupmann Diamond. This book explores good adab, exemplified in the main character, Rashid and his relations with his parents and the elderly. Islamic values are applied to everyday life as we read the sub-plot involving Rashid’s family and the challenges they face. Good relations with other cultures are also encouraged in this book with its message of respect and tolerance. Fast-paced with a gripping storyline, for boys (and tomboys!) ages 9+.

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Islamic Saints
Sufis (Islamic mystics) form an important element in Islamic society. The author provides an explanation of their mystical doctrine and practice. He also discusses recognizing pious and holy mystics as saints and the value of their intercession on behalf of believers. The text stresses the practice of the Tijaniyah order of Sufis. Displayed is a diagram explaining the religious life of the mystics, which revolves around the teaching of their master.
From the desert librabries of Timbuktu