Thursday, October 13, 2011

RTL: The Grea Night Journey

  السلام عليكم ورحمة الله وبركاته

Book Title: The Great Night Journey and Other Stories  
Author: Anita Ganeri
Islamically Appropriate?: No
Genre: Fiction
Book Format: Picture Book
Age Group: 2-8
Book Review: This book has four stories from Islaam that have been written with language that makes the stories accessible to young children. As the title indicates, the story of the Prophet's (sallaallaahu alayhi wa salam) Isra wa mi'raj (night journey) is one of the four stories included. The other stories include: the first revelation the Prophet (sallaallaahu alayhi wa salam) received, the Prophet's Hijrah to al-Madina and the story of Ibrahim (alayhi salam) and Hajr (when he took her to Makkah and left she and Isma'il there). 

There are a few areas where the text and/or pictures make this book questionable: In the story of the revelation of the Quraan to the Prophet (salllaallaahu alayhi wa salam), the author says that Jibril (alayhi salam) was holding a piece of cloth on which was covered in writing and he commanded the Prophet (salllallaahu alayhi wa salam) to read it. Is this authentic? 

Also, in the story of al-Isra wal Mi'raj, the wording the author used when mentioning how Musa (alayhi salam) told the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa salam) to go back to Allaah and request a reduction in the number of daily salawaat, seems not to convey the correct manners that the Prophets have with Allaah. The wording is thus: "Musa told Muhammad (sallallaahu alayhi wa salam) that fifty prayers was too many prayers for people to say every day." Worded this way (and the subsequent outcome of the story - the prayers being reduced), it gives the appearance that Musa had a better idea or knew better than Allaah (astagfirullaah). Allaahu a'lam...

Additionally, the hadith that the author relied on to tell the story of when the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa salam) and Abu Bakr (radiallaahu anhu) hid in the cave is, to my limited knowledge, weak. If you were to read this book aloud you could change these things but if you allow a child who can read to simply read the book himself/herself then he/she would read these inaccuracies. 

There is also one picture in the story of al-Isra wal-mi'raj that shows a ladder going up into the clouds. The text says that the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa salam) ascended to the heavens on البُراق al-buraq but this illustration seems to contradict the text. We do not want children to think that the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa salam) climbed a ladder to ascend to the heavens on his night journey. 

Originally, the rating on this book was undecided but after typing this, I believe that it may be safer to rate the book as not Islamically appropriate due to the aforementioned errors. One of our primary goals is to impart the religion to our children correctly and while this book is beautifully illustrated and the written in language that makes it accessible to young children, the errors are of a nature that cannot easily be rectified.

As an aside: this book was authored by a woman whom, it appears, is not Muslim...waallaahu a'lam. She has retained the overall accuracy of each story and has done so in a respectful manner. May Allaah guide her to Islaam (if she is not already Muslim). It appears that she has also done research about Islaam and has respected and adhered to the prohibition of using facial features, in fact there is not a single human being or animal in the entire book alhamdulillaah! The illustrations are beautiful and attractive so that children will enjoy them insha'Allaah. May Allaah guide us to follow His Shari'a and the Sunnah of His Last Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa salam) and produce beautiful, Islamically accurate children's books without the use of facial features on humans and/or animals.

 Until the next read insha'Allaah....

1 comment:

  1. Assalamualaikum Umm An-Nu'man.
    Thank you for sharing this review. I came across this book looking for stories of Isra Wal Mikraj for children. Insha-Allah, may be some other title.
    I have found a book on history of Al-Aqsa, but nothing on the event itself.