Why Do We Need Islamic Literature?

    Most children in the modern world are given reading textbooks from grades KG-8. After that, in grades 9-12, the students often take specialized courses which employ novels and other forms of literature.

    As was mentioned in the "Why Reading" page, there are no reading textbooks designed for use by Muslims, but there are many books of stories, poetry, adventure, literature, etc... which can be cobbled together to either supplement an existing reading textbook or to replace it all together. The dangers with non-Muslim-oriented textbooks should be obvious to all, as the following explanation will make clear.

Why Islamically-oriented Literature?

    It is no doubt understood by all educators and parents that what a child reads for pleasure inevitably influences their development and attitudes in later life. If you think back for a moment to some of the books you read when you were a child, you will no doubt remember a few which to this day make you smile. We are what we read!

    Every society encourages and fosters the development of its own brand of "Children's Literature." From Aesop's fables, and Grimm's Fairy Tales to Goosebumps and Dr. Suess, children's literature is designed to form attitudes and world-views which will result in the transmission of values the dominant culture accepts.

    In North America today, then, we Muslims face a strange paradox. On the one hand, we encourage our children to become Islamically aware, yet, on the other hand, we sit by idly as they devour book after book whose themes and subjects are blatantly pro-secular. Our children read about Bobby and Sue or Matthew and Jill, their problems finding a date, their lifestyles filled with endless moments of gossip, lying and mediocrity and in the end, our children desire just such a lifestyle, because it is reinforced out on the streets, on TV and in their public (and sometimes Islamic) schools through their reading textbooks. (Not to mention the violent videogames!) Then, after buying our kids the latest issue of Babysitter's Club or bringing them a new video game, we parents have the nerve to lament that our children are drifting away from the faith!

    If we say the youth are the future, then it must be understood that the future is secured today. Every day Muslim children are reading and every day they interact with non-Muslim children. If you want your child to be a practicing, believing Muslim, then every care must be taken to build a solid foundation now. This includes monitoring their reading habits now, both in school and outside.

    For parents at home, it is completely important that the majority of the books, magazines and movies you buy be Islamically-oriented. There are loads of good, well-written and colorful books available for all ages, even for you! If your native language is not English, and you prefer to read books written in your own language, you must realize that your children will never read books in the same language as you. They are English-speaking forever! So you must force yourself to buy that Muslim-written book in English for them, even though you don't care to read it yourself.

    If you are busy with your job or household and time just seems to pass by in a blur, remember that it may be a blur for you, but your children are endlessly bored and looking for things to do. Buy them Islamically-oriented story-books, videos and coloring books to build some semblance of an Islamic identity in them before it's too late.

    If you just don't read at all anymore, realize that others do, and need to. Don't pass up that opportunity to get some Islamically-inspiring item just because of laziness. All your children see everyday is falsehood, unIslamic values, "fun" secular culture and a reality that is based on the non-Muslim way of life. Many Muslim families hardly have more than a Qur'an in their house, and that in Arabic or Urdu only! Whither the lost children!

    Any full-time Islamic school can formulate a separate reading curriculum that is Islamically-based. If there are lessons in the non-Muslim textbook which must be studied, then study only those, otherwise, for the stories, poetry, etc..., use Muslim-written books.

    Every Weekend Islamic school must include one literature class in its schedule. It may be the only time of the week in which the students actually read a story involving Muslims and positive Islamic themes. For both of these needs, the Knowledge Requirements section will list those books which are most appropriate for each grade level. The guide will also serve individual parents as well who want to select the most age-appropriate books for their children.

    The books listed in this resource guide were chosen for their quality. There are many other books available in the Muslim-book market, but in our research and analysis, we've decided to only list those we feel are the best in terms of writing, presentation, material, creativity and availability.

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