Six years ago I wanted to teach my first child about Allah. I didn’t know where to begin. I’m sure a lot of you out there have faced similar challenges. There’s a huge gap in the market for children’s books that explain who Allah is and focus on helping children understand how He effects their lives.
Author Zainab Jones has set out to fill that gap and based on what I’ve learnt, we can look forward to an entire series dedicated to teaching children more about Allah!
Masha Allah! Tabarak Allah!
I’ve had the amazing opportunity to interview her and ask a few questions I’ve had on my mind.
May Allah bless her efforts greatly!
Read on to see what she had to say.
What inspired you to write “Mommy Who is Allah?”
I was raised in the Presbyterian Church where by I went to Sunday school from a very young age. We would sit and listen to Bible related stories, do arts and crafts, play themed related games, and have a snack. It was the highlight of my week. Mind you this was in the early 70’s but the experience had a huge positive affect on me. I began to pray at a very young age. But, after living in the Middle East where religion is taught at school in a more dogmatic setting, my children were turned off. Moreover, young children are not exposed to any type of fun spiritual experiences unless Mom creates that environment at home. So, I wanted to create a story that would fit our Islamic Aqeedah/doctrine while inspiring the love of Allah through a positive playful experience.
How long did it take for you to write the story?
This is my first children’s book and to be honest it only took me a few hours. It was really raw when it went to the publisher’s and there were many modifications that needed to be made. I’m learning a lot about writing children’s books along the way.
Why did you decide to publish your story?
I was hoping to spark a feeling in children that would begin to kindle a personal relationship between children and Allah.
Were there any obstacles you faced in getting published? If so, what were they?
I’ve been asked this question before and to be totally honest, Allah has made it quite easy for me to get the work published. I’ve really had no obstacles or challenges. The doors were opened with very little effort on my part. Ahumdulillah.
Do you write regularly?
Yes, I write a lot of poetry. I enjoy the nuance and appreciate the adaptation of the English language and subtleties in meanings, especially that of metaphor. I’ve also written a number of Interfaith and political compositions in my younger years. None of which were published which has been for the best.
Do you have a blog?
Yes, I’ve just started a new blog to accommodate this current project. www.mommywhoisallah.wordpress.com. I had a blog that featured my poetry called Poetry and Prose. I also had a blog whereby I was working on a book that would highlight the similarities between the Abrahamic religions called, “Beloved Jerusalem, Finding Common Ground.” I discontinued the blogs but may return to those projects at a later time.
What’s your favorite writing spot?
To be honest, anywhere. I sat and wrote a poem in Half – Priced Books just the other night, entitled “Sisters in Faith.”
Do you plan to write more books?
Yes. Right now I’m engulfed in learning how to compose exciting children’s stories that will engage children in learning about Allah through focusing on one or two similar attributes at a time. We ultimately fall in love with another person’s characteristics and in this case Allah has all the most beautiful names and attributes. But, we as parents and educators are missing the opportunity to impart our love for Allah to children in a way they, too, can relate.
So, “Mommy, Who Is Allah?” is intended to be a series. Book 2 is complete and focuses on Allah as Al Ahad Allahu As Samad. The story is between a mother and daughter and has more of a Junie B. Jones tone to it. Book 3 is in the stage of rough draft and focuses on Allah as Al Rahman, Al Raheem. This story is also about a mother and daughter conversation but with more of a cause and effect setting attractive to early elementary aged children.
Do you have any advice to offer aspiring authors?
There are so many esteemed authors out there and at this point I might be more in need of their advice along with other aspiring authors. It seems to me that good readers make the best writers. So, read a lot and write as often as possible.
Which part of the story do you like the most?
There are several elements of the story I like from a teacher’s point of view. The kinesthetic teaching tools and the introduction of community helpers that compliment a pre-k curriculum. But, my favorite part is the meaningful relationship between the mother and her son that is displayed when he asks her the big question. “Mommy, Who Is Allah?’. She then looks deeply into his big brown eyes and responds in a soft tone filled with love. These moments are often lost while trying to figure out how to explain this or that. Plus, life with work and children is hectic and goes by so fast. As parents we often look at our children who are older now and wish we had those moments back again. I get to relive some of those moments in the story.
What do you like best about being a published author?
“I guess it’s a small kind of accomplishment.” Elizabeth Bennet, said in the book, “Pride and Prejudice.” I see it as a new profession and one of which I will need to learn the skill of storytelling. I can teach children to write compositions all day long and I can write on whatever topic I might be learning. I love writing poetry but storytelling is a different type of literary craft whereby I will need to become better accomplished. So, I see this as the start of learning a new art form. And I pray that I will improve in the field. In Sha Allah.
Don’t forget to check out “Mommy, Who is Allah?” Click right here to visit the page now!
For more updates on the project, visit Zainab’s blog by clicking here.
Look out for more book reviews and some exciting new projects at Ponies and Pizza, Insha Allah!