My Muslim Mate is written by Amal Abou Eid. The story was narrated by young Charlie who has a muslim friend called Khaled. In this book Charlie tells you what Khaled’s religion is all about, and that their differences in culture does not mean that they cannot be friends.
In the book, Charlie explains Khaled’s religion using the 5 pillars of Islam. When I first read it, my first thought was, ‘if I give this to someone who is not a Muslim, I wonder if reading a brief explanation on each of the 5 pillars of Islam will be too much for them?’ Then I thought again ‘you know what, why not?’
Why should not there be a book that explains what Islam is about in very high level so that a lot of other people’s misconception is clarified? Why should not there be a book that explains about your children’s friend’s religion? The more we understand other people’s belief and other people’s culture, the more we will appreciate their point of view.
My daughter goes to Public School, and we have non-muslim cousins. I want my children to know how they should answer other people if they were asked on what their religion is about. I wear hijab, and once in a while, people asked me about the reason why I wear hijab. People asked me about my religion. People asked me about what do I think about the current news. What if other kids, or our non-muslim family members asked my kids about Islam? I wonder how they are going to answer and I hope this book forms some basic answers in their head.
This book is good for the message it carries. That despite the differences in cultures and beliefs people can still get along and find common ground and shared interest. If we raise a generation that can respect other people’s belief and culture, wouldn’t the world be a nicer place for everyone?
I also believe it should go both ways as well. Our muslim children should also appreciate other people’s belief and cultures, and not go around saying other people are wrong just because they don’t believe in what we do. That is why I love it when the book briefly mentioned that Khaled also loves hearing stories about Charlie’s Christmas Barbecue and Easter Bunny.
I especially love the end where the author gives activity ideas to learn about other culture by randomly choosing a country from the world map and try to make the country’s cuisine or learn more about their traditions, be it dances, religions, etc. This one I definitely going to do with my daughter, inshaAllah, as she loves reading about other countries and what’s happening on the other side of the world.
Opening your child’s mind on what is going on around the world is essential, as it will allow them to be more accepting and more respecting of others because they realize that the way they live their life might not be the same with other children who comes from another country. And when open-minded children from different background meet and become friends, they will no longer see those differences as a barrier, but instead they will use their differences to get along side by side, respecting each other, and find common grounds.
Children are such curious creatures. They would love to hear about what is happening on the other side of the world, like how they build canals on Panama? or how they go from one place to another with boat in Venice? How do monks live in China? or how the sun doesn’t set at all for 60 days during summer in the Arctic? What do other kids in Japan had for breakfast? The activity suggested in this book is a good way to start a conversation with your kids.
In conclusion, this book applies for both muslim and non-muslim children, or maybe even teachers. I think if your kid has a close friend or family member that is non-muslim, then this book will be a nice little gift. This book also make a good teacher’s gift too, because we need more diverse book on our library bookshelves.