One of the reasons I’m behind with writing up my Hajj post is that I’ve been feeling my resources are inadequate. It took me a while to connect my children’s constant requests to perform Hajj with my feelings of inadequacy. (As you may know, even positive repeated requests from children can ring like moans and make it hard for a parent to think.) SubhanAllah, it seems our resources have been fantastic. By Allah’s will, our resources have facilitated them to long to be pilgrims every time we interact with rhymes, stories, and non-fiction books, and subsequently discuss the pilgrimage….
For years, we’ve sung Hajj Harmonies nursery rhymes. Although the colouring book was only released by Mindworks Publishing last year, I wrote the collection long before it was illustrated. The rhymes are packed with information about Hajj rituals, relayed in an easy to learn and consolidate form, being rhymes. The opening rhyme gives an overview of Hajj, and ends with a question and answer which I have several times witnessed stimulate my children’s excitement about experiencing Hajj for themselves. (I’ve noticed myself get hopeful too.)
‘More Muslims make Hajj Every year,
You may well want to know –
Why do Muslims hold Hajj so dear?
You’ll find out if you go!’
This year, my children have particularly loved to giggle on my knee for an action version of ‘A Long Full Coach’, mime throwing at the Jamarah for ‘Throw Your Pebbles’, to clap along to ‘The Sacrifice Is For Allah Alone’ (which almost always stimulates questions about Ibrahim and our qurbani), and to join in with ‘Peace Pilgrims, Young’. In the past, ‘Round the Ka’bah, Walk’ and ‘Umm Isma’il’ have been clear favourites, and, in a large group, ‘Peace Greetings Must Be Spread’ can be enormous fun, either in a circle turning side to side to shake hands, passing a handshake as a wave around the circle, or mingling in the space to shake everyone’s hand (while the grown-ups sing).
Na’ima B Robert’s Going to Mecca also seems to have been a long-standing companion on our journey to becoming heartfelt aspiring pilgrims, alhamdulillah. I don’t remember when we acquired it. Its narrative repeats invitations to feel, see, and hear the pilgrims, for me, making its nearness to experiential knowledge of Hajj rituals the most memorable aspect of the book.
We’ve certainly had Goodword Book’s Tell Me About Hajj for longer than Robert’s book, and have thoroughly enjoyed the outdated photographs. I’ve often turned to this book when children have asked questions, although they haven’t wanted me to read from it – just to show them the relevant pictures and answer them eye to eye from the knowledge and yearning I store in my heart, masha’Allah.
This year, we got a new book called A Little Tree Goes For Hajj by Eman Salem (which I ordered from the UK by phone). Masha’Allah, its tale in which a young tree is carried by a pilgrim in a basket through all the Hajj rituals has incited even more enthusiasm in my children to perform Hajj as soon as possible. If a youngster can be carried…. Alhamdulillah, this year I finally got brave and shed my self-limiting knowledge that I can’t currently afford to perform Hajj, substituting it with du’a-laden intentions to go to Makkah/Mecca by the time my children are teenagers insha’Allah. I told my children after reading this story. They are delighted.
With my youngest child, I haven’t really been (back) over the five pillars of Islam, showing where Hajj fits in, so for Eid al Adha, alhamdulillah, I have a copy of 5 Pillars of Islam by The Islamic Foundation. Masha’Allah, its text appears ready to simply reinforce the groundwork we have done to raise aspiring Hajjis:
‘On the Hajj we will go
Insha’Allah when we grow’
So alhamdulillah, upon reflection, far from feeling my resources are inadequate for my children’s learning about Hajj, I recognise my blessings. Allah SWT has thus far guided my family to yearn to perform Hajj through resources I’ve shared – they want to go for His sake more than merely read, sing, act-out, and make crafts. Have you witnessed this in your children through using Hajj books, crafts, and media? Have you experienced it yourself? I am always eager to receive book recommendations. Please comment below, email me at email@example.com, or tweet me @elizabethlymer.
Elizabeth Lymer writes rhymes and stories to support informal, playful learning for children aged 0–7 years old. She blogs about using Muslim and other religious children’s literature to foster a strong Muslim identity, interfaith harmony, and multi-faith respect. She is the author of four Muslim nursery rhymes books: Islamic Nursery Rhymes, Muslim Lullabies, Ramadan Rhymes, and Hajj Harmonies; one Abrahamic interfaith book Religious Rhyme Time; and one black-and-white baby book Baby Traveller Bismillah. Elizabeth loves rainbows and insha’Allah you can look out for more of them in her forthcoming work.