About

In 1998 when Christmas, Hanukkah, and Ramadan were all celebrated during the month of December, I took my three children, 9‐year‐old Hadeer, 8‐year‐old Siraj, and 6‐year‐old Janna to Story Time at the local library. With great excitement, the librarian told the wide‐eyed children that she would read stories about the holidays in December to them: Christmas and Hanukkah. My daughter Hadeer, almost automatically, said to me, “How about Ramadan, Mommy? That's in December too.” After Story Time was over, I asked the librarian to share with the children a story about Ramadan because the holidays coincided this year. The librarian retorted, “Ramadan is not a fun month; it's religious.”

I proceeded to tell her that like Christmas and Hanukkah, Ramadan is also a religious time and that it is, in fact, fun, just like those two holidays. After a long discussion on this matter the librarian agreed. If I could bring her a children’s story about Ramadan she would share it during Story Time at the library.

Naturally, I looked in the library for a children’s short story about Ramadan. However, to my children’s disappointment and mine, there were none. That is when I began working with my children on building off of their own experiences to write a story about Ramadan. I also designed an art project for the children to participate in during Story Time the following week at the library. Elhamdulilah, that week we were ready with a story to share with the children and we made a lantern as the library's art project for the week.

The following year, when I started teaching and developing the Islamic Studies curriculum at New Horizon School in Los Angeles, CA, I asked my students to write short stories about Ramadan. I also requested that they write poems about the Quran, Ramadan, Eid, the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh), and thankfulness.

I then worked on developing creative ideas for art projects to bring to life Islamic ideas and help us celebrate Islamic holidays. Not only did we relate existing arts and crafts projects to Islam, but we also created new ideas and taught the students to relate everything we used to the One who created the materials: God. We taught them that all man‐made items are from God’s natural creations, such as wax. We asked the students what wax is made of and encouraged them to do their research and come back to class with an answer. “Wax is made from natural things like cattle fat, sugars, and honey,” they wrote. Then we asked them what people use wax for. “People use wax for things like crayons, candles, and cosmetics,” they’d answer. We wanted to clarify to the students that using their creativity and God’s creations, they could produce beautiful art!

Then from 2011-2013, I worked with a designer and editor to publish these four projects into children's books.

I hope my story will encourage other parents to work with their local communities and inspire their children to be proud of and to use their resources to develop their Muslim American identities.

Sahar Sabry Abdel‐Aziz