My Friend Is a Muslim: Faith in Friendship

By Khadija Ejaz

Ramadan is just around the corner!

For most Muslims Ramadan is a month of sacrifice, compassion and forgiveness. For others it’s the all about shorter work hours and more time at home with the family. In this episode of Reading with your kids podcast, We welcome our associate producer Fatima Khan to talk about what does she look forward to most during this holy Month ? We also talk about one of the wonderful books she has recently reviewed My Friend is a Muslim.

Listen as Fatima shares her opinion on My friend is a Muslim and says it is a fascinating and informative book & is written in a narrative style. Author introduces young readers to Islam through a young Muslim girl Layla Reed who is only twelve years old.  She has been given a big project of making a presentation about an upcoming festival Eid al-Fitr which is the biggest Islamic Festival celebrated after the holy month of Ramadan. Layla’s best friend Nancy volunteered to help her with the project, and she learns a lot about her friend’s religion along the way. This book answers a lot of questions often asked by non-Muslims for example who Muhammad (PBUH) was. What exactly is in the Quran? What is Jihaad?

Note – PBUH is an acronym for Peace be Upon Him. Muslims will insert PBUH after using a prophet’s name in text as a sign of respect

Layla’s family is busy fasting for the holy month of Ramadan, and the festival of Eid al-Fitr is only a week away. And Nancy spends the weekend with Layla at home so that they can work on a project together. Ramadan is the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, and is observed by Muslims worldwide as a month of fasting to commemorate the first revelation of the Quran to Muhammad (PBUH) according to Islamic belief. During her stay at Layla’s house, Nancy discovers when the holy Quran was first revealed to the world, she hears the Adhaan(Islamic call to the prayers) for the first time, also learns how Muslims fast during Ramadan and do not eat or drink during daylight hours as Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam. She also learns that other acts of worship are the Shahadah, which is the declaration of faith; Salat, the five daily prayers; zakat, or almsgiving; and the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. Nancy also observes that Layla’s family is very different from hers as his father is a black man from America whereas her mother is a white woman from Russia, but they are both Muslim. She is curious to know more about the religion of Islam which bought them together.

Layla goes to Islamic school every Sunday to learn more about Islam and this weekend Nancy joins her. I love the way how author has used a narrative style to share the important information such as Muslims don’t make any pictures of the Prophet Muhammad or any other prophets or important people in Islamic history. Layla also shares a beautiful story behind the first verses of Quran that how the Angel Gabriel came to Muhammad and asked him to read to which he replied, “I do not know how to read” but the voice simply repeated its command and then it announced to him the first verses of Quran. He told his wife about his experience at the cave and she became worried so she asked a cousin of hers for advice. Khadija’s cousin was someone who believed in the idea of one god like Jews and Christians. He said the voice her husband had heard belonged to angel Gabriel and that her husband had been chosen by god to be a prophet.

Author has also shared few facts about Muslim world for example some people think that Muslims and Arabs are the same or that all Muslims are Arab. But In reality, they are two different things. A Muslim is someone who follows the religion of Islam whereas an Arab is a person whose native language is Arabic. The Muslim world spreads out beyond the Arab world and includes countries where Islam is practised. There are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. That’s about one-fifth of the world’s population, which makes Islam the second most popular religion in the world after Christianity

The book gives in depth knowledge of Muslim prayers which is called Salat and how do Muslims pray with a beautiful picture which covers all the movements that make up a Muslim prayer. The book also introduces kids to some of the famous faces of Islam in America like Muhammad Ali, the boxer, Malcolm x, the civil rights leader. Dr. Mehmet Oz who appeared on television with Oprah and on magazine cover. Also about Anousheh Ansari, the first Muslim woman in space who is originally from Iran.

Stay tuned as Fatima shares lots of information about Islam and this book. It covers discussions on the hijab, prayers, holidays, and other traditions offer the opportunity to stress the importance of tolerating other cultures, while empathising with people who are different. This timely story entertains as it educates, as the girls enjoy the process of discovering Islam.

Be sure to listen as Fatima discuss “My Friend Is A Muslim” on the Reading With Your Kids Podcast.

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