Read what some people are saying about ‘A Qur’aanic Odyssey: Towards Juz Amma’ (Book 1):
‘Children’s literature classically contains stories about life as a journey or quest. This exquisite narrative of a spiritual Odyssey is a sublime evocation of this theme and I am eager, as one who reads regularly to children at various stages of development, to offer them this inspiring and inspired tale.’
-Dennis Dalton, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, Columbia University
‘A wonderful inspiration! Umm Muhemmed reminds one of the ultimate reason for studying Qur’aan: to understand and reflect on the message. Her narrations are reflections of how Islam should be taught, not moments of forcing religious texts, but rather seeing opportunities and taking lessons from the Qur’aan and Sunnah.’
-Umm Aasiyah Muhammad, Author, A Muslim Princess
‘An insightful story that highlights challenges and victories which a Muslim family in the West experiences. Essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the phenomenon of Qur’aanic memorisation, Muslim & non-Muslim alike.’
-Hafidha Rayhaanah Omar, Founder Fee Qalbee
‘As commendable as the pursuit of hifdh can be, it can easily become an academic exercise of the mind rather than a spiritual journey of the heart. This book is a bridge between learning the Qur’aan and living the Qur’aan, between memorizing the sacred texts and understanding them. The examples that Umm Muhammed gives – of drawing a straight line to illustrate Siraatul Mustaqeem, of using a space such as a garage to learn Surah Takathur to illustrate the abundance of our stored properties – bring home the message that the Qur’aan is relevant and that its lessons are accessible to old and young. It is also a book about conscious and conscientious parenting, about being aware and in tune with your child’s development and about the sincerity of intention. I plan to use these lessons for my own reflection and for my children’s journeys with the Qur’aan, and pray that Allah blesses the writer in her pursuit of hifdh so that we may see subsequent additions to ‘A Qur’aanic Odyssey.’
-Umm Zakariyya Gardee, Freelance Writer and Editor
‘An intimate and eloquent portrait of one mother’s journey to instruct her children in the basis of Islam. This lovely book reminds us of the importance of giving our children a spiritual berth, while nurturing their adventurous, naturally inquisitive spirits. With humor, grace, and insight, Umm Muhemmed shows how our children have as much (if not more) to teach us than we have to teach them.’
-Jerusha O. Conner Ph.D, Assistant Professor of Education, Villanova University
‘A Qur’aanic Odyssey is a vibrantly written book about the everyday joys and challenges of parenting but with the added dimension of how parents can provide spiritual guidance to their children. While the Qur’aan is a source of guidance for over 1 billion Muslims, too often, the ethos of the Qur’aan is overlooked. Just as Prophet Muhemmed was described as a “living Qur’aan” this book brings to life how this family has chosen to “live the Qur’aan”, through the journey of hifdh, thus making this sacred book a means of guidance, discovery, and moral and spiritual development through our everyday adventures.’
-Zuhaira Razzack, Principal, ILM Academy
‘A Qur’aanic Odyssey will resonate with mothers everywhere – regardless of backgrounds and beliefs – as a portrait of the early years in our children’s lives during which we aim to guide them – from the depths of our hearts – while learning so much from them along the way. The book’s format makes it a pleasure to read: meaningful snapshots from the lives of a delightful family whom we feel we know in person by the end, followed by practical and spiritual advice based on the teachings of Islam. While interesting and informative in regards to its religious basis, this book transcends cultures and geography as well, getting at the very heart of a mother’s dedication to her children.’
-Jenny Curtis Fee, author of Pancakes at Midnight – Jet Lag and the Young Traveler, and mother of three multi-cultural children, Geneva, Switzerland
Read what some people are saying about ‘Ya Seen: a hifdh journey in America’ (Book 2):
“Umm Muhemmed’s Ya Seen: a hifdh journey in America, is an engaging read providing insight, clarity and a window into the remarkable world of Qur’aanic memorization. More importantly, it illustrates the living beauty of Islam with practical linkage to all of creation. This unique publication is a recommended read and a must for every bookshelf!”
-Rayhaanah Omar (haafidha), Fee Qalbee Consulting
“This is a charming sequel to A Qur’aanic Odyssey, but you don’t have to have read the first to enjoy the sequel. Ya Seen: a hifdh journey in America is the Ramadan Odyssey of one family. It is full of human beings learning to calm and clean their hearts and raise their children during the month of fasting. Daily life marches on – complete with granny fussing about excessive cell phone use while assuring us that she’s not being critical, just observant. The children move in and out of kids’ stuff – toys, puzzles, stuffed animals – into Quran memorization, or vice versa, depending on which order shows the most potential success for faith development and discipline. The footnotes are fabulous, and you can lilt through the novel and study through the notes, as much as this family does. A grand read, a grand education.”
-Jane Lee Wolfe, Director, Bog Chapel, Inc.
“Umm Muhemmed’s Ya Seen, a hifdh journey in America, the sequel to her A Qur’aanic Odyssey: Towards Juz ‘Amma, comes as another great gift to American understanding of Islam. It’s a boon to teachers who need stories like these for classes on children’s literature as well as parents and grandparents seeking enjoyable tales of family life that impart important lessons. I have served in each of these roles and see in these books an entirely unique way to communicate Islam’s ideas and practices on an everyday basis. The writing style is exquisite because the author is a poet and so able to express complex thoughts in a lucid, intelligible and pleasant manner. We must all be grateful for this continuing source of inspiration.”
-Dennis Dalton, Professor Emeritus, Political Science, Barnard College
“Amazing book. I enjoyed it so much,”- Laila, age 13
“Ya Seen, a hifdh journey in America is a touching, fictional take on the challenges faced by a Muslim family striving to adhere to the tenets of Islam. Umm Muhemmed brings her characters to life through endearing interactions familiar to many Muslim families. For families with young children learning Quran, this book’s approach can help simplify the daunting task of memorization through this narration of joyful, heartfelt encounters.”
-Alana Raybon, teacher, co-author, Undivided–A Muslim Daughter, Her Christian Mother, Their Path to Peace
“As a homeschooler who recently started unit studies, Ya Seen, a hifdh journey in America has opened my mind to how I could use surahs from the Quran to explore: Allah‘s names/characteristics, prophets and messengers, Allah‘s creations from plants, animals to the solar system, mathematics in the way of time, cycles and even patterns and of course metaphors and parables.”
-Carimah Fataar, homeschooler
“I think that this book will appeal to people of all ages: children, parents, and teachers. It encourages memorization of Quran by showing you others have overcome the obstacles.”
-Safiyya, age 12, hafidha
Ya Seen: a hifdh journey in America is primarily a story about a mother’s struggle to help her young son to memorize the Quran in a way that is meaningful and fulfilling. Providing him with motivation to continue on this path at a steady pace without being overwhelmed and losing interest is only one of the many challenges she faces. Trying to balance a career and complete her own memorization while taking care of a household that is ethnically diverse is a daunting task. The author subtly weaves other themes into the story that add to the richness of the narrative:
- Mother-daughter relationship: The protagonist’s relationship with her own mother highlights the delicate nature of such a bond while giving her invaluable lessons about parenting.
- Sibling rivalry: She learns to deal with the constant competition between her children with love, compassion and patience.
- Multi-racial marriage: Her interactions with her husband, who comes from a different religious and cultural background, forces her to be more cognizant of the sensitivities of other cultures and their way of life.
- Balancing career and family: Raising kids while trying to have a career of her own teaches her the importance of time-management and prioritization.
- Relationship with Non-Muslims and cultural integration: Her interactions with other Non-Muslims in the community.
The overriding theme, however, is her attempt to teach her children to understand and act upon the Quran that they are memorizing. The way she incorporates what her son is memorizing into everyday lessons for him is the best part of the book. Relevant Ahadith, Quranic ayahs and hikayat are quoted to further instill the concept being learned. It is a very important that parents make memorizing the Quran a worthwhile experience for the children. The children should be able to understand how to implement what they are learning in their lives otherwise it will just turn into rote memorization with no benefit.
Cons: The copious footnotes became a tad distracting. I would suggest putting those at the end of the book as a reference for those who need to read more on the subject.
There are so many interesting themes in the book that can be further developed. I wanted to find out more about the characters. So perhaps, at least some of the main characters can be further developed. There is great potential for this to become a series for kids in 5th grades and upwards. It will especially resonate with the kids who are memorizing the Quran and face similar challenges. It could also give hope and encouragement to those who plan on embarking on this journey, giving them a guideline about how to go about doing it in a beneficial way
If you would like to have a review featured, please contact the publisher or the author at kgratwick[at]yahoo[dot]com.