BOWL OF BARAKA

Listen!
On Thursday night Nasreddin Hodja’s wife boiled wheat berries and rice with a pinch of salt in the soup kettle,  a few handfuls of white beans in the little copper pot, and a few handfuls of  chickpeas in the black pot. She had done this  all her life on a Thursday of Muharram, first as a little child barely able to see into the kettle and later as a young woman trying it out for the first time alone, and finally now, as an almost-old woman grateful to still have the health and strength to run a kitchen.

Two hours later (more…)

Published in: on January 28, 2009 at 9:19 am  Comments (1)  

Listen, listen, listen

I’ve always felt that it is fruitful to speak to very young children, even infants, about what I am doing for them, or what is happening around them, or what is coming next, throwing out the idea “they can’t understand.”  And I have observed that children who are engaged in this way behave differently as a result of it.

And I have been told on several occasions that even very small children choose to listen to my stories again and again, even though I can’t imagine how they could possibly “understand” the story.

So I wasn’t entirely surprised to read this note from a friend, although it made me really happy and grateful, and I was glad she gave me permission to put it here.

I just wanted to share with you something I think is amazing ) I’ve been playing the Miraculous Happenings CD for a few days straight and noticed that my daughter has actually memorized parts of the story, and she is only 18 months old!!

I was doubtful at first so I’ve kept playing it every day so I could pay attention. When the part comes where you say “and he drank long and greedily…” Nafeesah says “Ahhhhh!” before Abrahah does. Then when you mention he stuffs a handful of grapes in his mouth she makes smacking sound with her mouth. The part when the soldiers start whispering to each other, she starts doing the “whispering” sounds before they start on the recording. and I’ve noticed that before some dialogue is about to come up Nafeesah seems to be imitating the sound of the voice of the person who is about to speak, only in babble of course.
I can tell she has memorized parts of the story because her actions usually precede the sound effects/dialogue that she seems to be imitating rather than afterwards.

Fortunate little girl!

We know that a fundamental developmental factor in language acquisition is

listening.

A child  is listening already in the womb. In fact, if a child is born deaf, he will very likely not go on to speak, even if there is no physiological problem with his voice, without sophisticated equipment and help.

The  very first word of the Masnavi, the phenomenal work of Mevlana Jelalludin Rumi is

listen.

One of my favorite songs growing up was:

Listen, listen, listen

to my heart’s song.

Listen, listen, listen

to my heart’s song.

I will never forget you, I will never forsake you.

I will never forget you, I will never forsake you.

The poet Caroline Forche wrote,

We are listening, help us to understand.

Muhammad, may Allah bless him and give him peace, said,

Be an ear.”

InshaAllah.

MEHDED MARYAM SINCLAIR

Nur al Qasas, The Light of the Spoken Word

When you hear, you’ll see

Published in: on January 20, 2009 at 1:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Staying Informed Takes Effort

For anyone willing to increase their knowledge about the situation in Gaza, here’s a good place to go: http://masudblog.com/ particularly if you are an American citizen and puzzled by the recent US Congressional Resolution on Israel. And Allah knows best. The best way to keep the people of Gaza in your prayers is before dawn and in groups.  And we must keep digging into our pockets.

MEHDED MARYAM SINCLAIR

Nur al Qasas, The Light of the Spoken Word

When you hear, you’ll see

Published in: on January 13, 2009 at 10:40 am  Leave a Comment  

Miraculous Happenings in the Year of the Elephant

The greedy and power-hungry vice-regent Abrahah

intends to divert the world’s pilgrims

from the Kaaba, the House of Allah, in Mecca,

to the cathedral his slaves have built for him.

But when the cathedral’s spires finally slice the brilliant Yemeni skies

and the magnificent doors are opened,

the throngs Abrahah has been boasting about do not arrive.

In a rage, he vows to destroy the Kaaba,

but Allah, the Causer of all causes, has other plans.

True happenings, stranger by far than fiction, demonstrate that if He says, “Be!” it is,

it surely is.

This telling of the events behind the Chapter of the Elephant of the Glorious Qur’an was chosen for Second Prize in the Islamic Foundation’s 2005 Writing for Children competition.  The audio Cd was produced in Amman in 2006 and the illustrated book was published by the Foundation in 2007.

THE CD Audio sample: 

Miraculous Happenings in the Year of the Elephant

Miraculous Happenings in the Year of the Elephant CD

A review from one of our readers:

“MashaAllah! My children still listen to your retelling of the Year of the Elephant and love it!”  Roxanne Umm Sahla, (KUWAIT)

Reviews from Amazon.com:

“My husband and I purchased the audio recording of this story when our daughter was about 15 months old and I played it almost every day for a few weeks. It was the first recorded story that I ever played just for her and I wasn’t sure how she would react. She LOVED it! Even though she was too young to understand the content of the story, she would obviously be paying close attention to the sound effects and the voice of the storyteller. She would bounce up and and down to the beat of the drums, and repeat “Allah!” whenever she heard it being said in the story. Playing the story would almost immediately quiet her if she was feeling cranky and put a big smile on her face especially as she “danced” to the drumbeats. Now, as a 20-something-year-old adult, I have to say that I was a bit surprised by how much *I* really enjoyed the story! I am not ashamed to admit that I actually cried during my first listening of the story because of Mehded’s vivid descriptions and storytelling style. A few of the more dramatic points in the story got me quite emotional! I read the book after listening to the story many times and was mildly disappointed by the illustrations because I had already developed very detailed images in my mind of the whole story.”  Umm Hamza (UAE)

“Even very young children love the language and walk around repeating parts of it as they listen…the best language instruction you could ever give a toddler.”  Abu Yusuf, (AMMAN)

THE ILLUSTRATED BOOK:

Miraculous Happenings in the Year of the Elephant, published by The Islamic Foundation, 2007

Miraculous Happenings in the Year of the Elephant, published by The Islamic Foundation, 2007

Reviews from Amazon.com:

“great for allowing young readers to review and retell the story in their own voice…  a fine example of a beautiful Islamic story in very descriptive and well-written English–definitely a must-have book for one’s growing children’s library. Additional positive aspects of the book and recording include the fact that they teach the reader/listener about the history tied to a chapter of the Qur’an and about reliance on God when facing any difficulty. PLUS the story is very well researched and has been checked by reliable scholars. Overall, Miraculous Happenings in the Year of the Elephant–both the book and recording–are great tools for developing your and your child(ren)’s love for reading stories and storytelling, while learning about Islam and developing love for God and the Prophet Muhammad at the same time.”  Umm Hamza, (UAE)

“a beautiful hard-cover book, one your children will want to read again and again with or without the CD, improving their grasp of well-written English along the way.”  Abu Yusuf, (AMMAN)

You can order the book from Amazon.com or .UK

You can order the book and the CD from The Islamic Foundation, www.islamic-foundation.org.uk

MEHDED MARYAM SINCLAIR

Nur al Qasas, The Light of the Spoken Word

When you hear, you’ll see

Published in: on January 11, 2009 at 8:09 pm  Leave a Comment  

New Book

Coming Soon! A Trust of Treasures

Coming Soon! A Trust of Treasures

Long ago,the universe was humming praises for its Creator,
But there was no one to stand still and listen, and say “Ahhh.”
The stars were whirling and glittering in the night sky,
But there was no one to be dazzled by them and discern their patterns.
The moon was waxing and waning in its orbit,
But there was no one to measure its phases or count their days by it.

Soon to be released by Kube Publishing, part of the Islamic Foundation, Markfield, England.  This  book, beautifully illustrated by Angela Desira, tells the story of Creation in  a new and surprising way and clarifies the role of men and women as  caretakers of the finite earth and everything on it, while bowing down to the eternal Creator in love and awe and gratitude.

MEHDED MARYAM SINCLAIR

Nur al Qasas, The Light of the Spoken Word

When you hear, you’ll see

Published in: on January 10, 2009 at 12:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

Good News!

My apologies for those who’ve had difficulty getting over to box.net to hear the sample of The Bowing of the Stars. Now the sample is available from this site, no need to migrate over to box.net. Have a listen! 

Published in: on January 1, 2009 at 2:03 pm  Leave a Comment