These two stories illustrate the article "Children’s Fiction, Personal Understanding and Muslim Pupils"
by Fawzia Gilani-Williams and Stephen Bigger in the journal ALMAS (2011).
Little Red Kufi – A Tale for Ramadan
by Fawzia Gilani-Williams
Once upon a time there lived a little boy who was loved by everyone but most of all by his grandmother. Every Eid, his grandmother would make him a red kufi. He wore his red kufi everywhere he went. So everyone called him Little Red Kufi.
He lived with his parents and grandmother in a little house near a grove of date palms. One day during Ramadan, his mother said, “Little Red Kufi, please take this basket of dates to the mosque, so that people can break their fast at sunset.”
“Yes, of course Mama,” said Little Red Kufi. “I will take the basket right away.”
“Be sure that you don’t talk to any strangers,” warned Mama. “And take care to keep your fast.”
“Yes Mama. Asalaamu alaikum!” said Little Red Kufi as he picked up the basket of dates.
“Wa alaikum salaam,” replied Mama and give him a kiss.
The mosque was on the other side of the town. To get there Little Red Kufi had to go through the date palms. Near the date palms lived a greedy camel. As Little Red Kufi skipped through the date trees, along came the greedy camel.
“Where are you going, little boy?” he asked.
“I am taking this basket of dates to the mosque, so the people can break their fast at sunset,” he answered.
“Are they tasty?” asked the greedy camel.
“I don’t know,” answered Little Red Kufi. “I haven’t tried one.”
“Well try one,” encouraged the tricky camel.
“I can’t,” said Little Red Kufi, “I’m fasting.”
“But they look so sweet and tasty! Let’s both try one,” tempted the camel.
“No, I can’t. I’m fasting and now I must be on my way!” replied Little Red Kufi.
“Well, give me your basket,” said the greedy camel, “I will take it to the mosque for you.” But secretly the greedy camel just wanted to eat to them for himself.
“No,” said Little Red Kufi. “Mama asked me to take them to the mosque and that’s just what I’m going to do. But thank you anyway.”
The greedy camel began to plan how he could get the dates. He ran as fast as he could to the mosque.
“Salaam! Salaam!” bellowed the camel as he pushed open the door of the mosque. “It’s me, Little Red Kufi, I’ve come with a basket of dates so that the people can break their fast at sunset.”
There was no answer. The people were busy reciting Qur’an inside and did not hear him. So the camel peeked its head around the corner. Next to the shoe racks he saw a thobe and kufi hanging on a nail. Quickly, the greedy camel threw on the white thobe. It was very tight. Then he put on the kufi, it was very small. Then he waited for Little Red Kufi.
After a while, the greedy camel heard someone coming through the door.
“Asalaamu alaikum Imam!” called Little Red Kufi, “I’ve brought a basket of dates for the people who are fasting.”
“Wa alaikum salaam. Come in! Come in!” growled the greedy camel as softly as he could.
Little Red Kufi looked up and saw the Imam. He looked very strange.
“Subhan Allah! Brother Imam, you look so big and fat!” remarked Little Red Kufi.
“I have been eating too much,” answered the greedy camel.
“But it’s Ramadan, the month of fasting,” replied Little Red Kufi. “How could you have eaten so much?”
“O I just eat too much at sahoor and then at iftar,” explained the greedy camel.
“Please let me try one of your dates,” said the camel.
“But you can’t eat one yet” explained the little boy. “It’s not time to break the fast. The sun is still in the sky.”
“O yes, I almost forgot,” said the sneaky camel.
“Subhan Allah!” said Little Red Kufi, taking a closer look at the camel.
“Brother Imam, what long arms you have!”
“Yes, yes,” said the greedy camel. “All the better to reach for the Qur’an.”
Little Red Kufi stepped a little closer and said, “Brother Imam, what big eyes you have!”
“Yes, yes,” said the greedy camel. “All the better to read the Qur’an.”
Little Red Kufi stepped a little more closer and said, “Brother Imam, what a big mouth you have!”
“Yes, yes,” said the greedy camel. “All the better to eat those tasty dates with!” Then he leapt up to grab Little Red Kufi’s basket.
Little Red Kufi yelled and ran. Just then the Imam and the men in the prayer hall came running out. They chased away the greedy camel.
The Imam thanked Little Red Kufi for bringing the basket of dates and warned him not to talk to strangers again.
When Little Red Kufi got home, he told his family all about the greedy camel.
From Wolf and Friends by Stephen Bigger
More stories can be found at:
The story so far: Josh, aged 9, has moved out of London and made some friends and some enemies in his new school. One former enemy, Jake, has become a friend, but there are still examples of bullying and aggression to be handled.
Chapter 9. Al’s mob
Al couldn’t understand why Jake had changed and wanted the old Jake back. It was not because he liked Jake, but because he enjoyed trouble and distraction, while not being strong enough to be the central troublemaker.
At first he tempted, “Come on Jake, put a pin on Alison’s chair, see how she squeals”. But Jake walked off. Once he stole a pen and put it in Jake’s locker and started to whisper, “Jake’s nicked Sandra’s pen”. But Jake had found it and given it back to her, explaining that he had no idea how it got there. So Al started to get together with other rowdy lads from other classes. Either they teased Jake for going soft, or they dared him to do things so not to be a cissy.
Jake found this hard. Once he lost his temper and hit Al hard. Then four other boys hit him back and a fight started. They were all hauled into the Headteacher’s office and made to apologise. They all did this with bad grace.
Al’s mob (that was what Jas called them) thought this was promising. If Jake could be made to lose his temper, they would wind him up more. “Cissy” appeared to be a good word if it made him so riled. So every now and again “cissy” would be muttered under the breath in the playground in Jake’s hearing – usually when Al’s mob were together (they is safety in numbers) and there was an escape route. Enraging Jake was one thing; getting hurt was quite another and the taunters wanted to avoid a real fight.
Jake was with Sophie one day in the playground when an anonymous shout came over, “Look at Jake playing with the girls!”. Sophie could see that Jake was annoyed.
“Jake, if you get annoyed, they win”, she said.
“But I can’t help it. They get under my skin”.
“But if they see that they do, they will do it more and more. What does “cissy” mean do you think?”.
Jake thought. People use words without thinking about what they mean. “Cissy” is just an insult, really. Someone who is not tough. So when accused of this he had acted tough, and got into trouble.
“Jake, you are resisting their insults without giving in. Is that cissy? The cissy thing is to give in”. Sophie had once hated Jake but now felt great affection as he struggled with himself. “Isn’t it cissy to pretend to be strong when in a safe group, so that when they wind someone up they have a four to one advantage?”.
Jake, greatly helped, replied, “I remember granddad saying something. We were sitting looking at the canal, watching for fish. I didn’t know what he meant then”.
“What was that” asked Sophie.
“That we decide who and what we are, and should not let others give us labels. He used to be called thick, so he thought he was. I have been called all sorts of things, and so I thought I was useless. Dad used to call me ‘Useless’. But granddad said, ‘Sticks and stones break your bones but insults never harm you’. People are only hurt by insults if they allow themselves to be. You have all shown me that I don’t have to be useless. ‘Cissy’ is a label like that. I have to decide what kind of person I am going to be. Isn’t that right?”.
Jake suddenly was clear in his mind. Sophie saw a cloud lift from his face. “Do you talk to your granddad in your head?”, she asked.
She continued, “When I am upset, I have an aunty, her name is Helen, Aunty Helen. I see her in my head, and talk to her. We often talk you see, and I feel very relaxed when I see her in my mind. Its as if I can say anything and she will never tell me off. She’ll just ask questions, smile, ask what I think, what I am going to do. And you know, by the time I am finished I know what I am going to do. She hasn’t told me, but just by talking, I know what I should do next.”
Next day, Al with two of his mob Alfie and Jamie deliberately ran at Jake and knocked into him with cries of cissy boy. Jake staggered, by which time they had gone. “They didn’t hang around, did they”, he said meaningfully to other classmates nearby. Afraid I might thump them, I suppose”. This was true. Also, since Jake was not taking much notice of the name-calling, hurting him physically was their next option, but they wanted to make sure that they could not be hurt themselves.
Later in the day, Jake was with Josh in the playground when two of Al’s mob, Alfie and Jamie could be seen in a corner giving some new kids a hard time. They were calling them names, and running at them, so the little group looked scared. Jake said, “Come on Josh, work to do. I’ll take Alfie, you take Jamie” and Josh understood. Together then ran across the playground where Jake shoulder-charged Alfie, at the same time as Josh hit Jamie. The two bullies reeled, and fell. They saw the two avengers standing over them, and did not get up.
“Are you OK?” Josh asked the little group. All three nodded, two girls and a boy. “Yes, shukria” replied one of the girls.
“What’s that mean?” asked Jake friendlily. By this time Jas had joined them. “It means thank you” she said. To the girl she said, “Mera nam Jas hey, apka nam kyia hey?”. The girl replied “Mera nam Assia hey.”.
Jas said to the others, “This is Assia”. They all said Hi! and told her their names. “Don’t worry, we’ll keep reminding you!” Sophie added.
Assia pointed to her sister – “Nadia”; and then to the boy she said in accented English “Mustafa, our brother”.
“Hi Assia, hi Nadia, hi Mustafa” Jake and Josh echoed.
Jas spoke a little more in Punjabi and explained to the others, “They are new here and although they learned English at school in Pakistan, they are finding it hard to understand when people speak quickly. It will take them a little time to have the courage to speak English, and it won’t help if thugs are knocking them around. Jake lifted up Alfie by his lapels, and Josh stood up Jamie. “Now scram” said Jas, witheringly.
Al’s mob were no further trouble whenever they could see the Josh and Jake around. In the street, at the edge of the parklands that evening Wolf could be seen running up and down, dancing and prancing with eight children, six in jeans and two in shalwar kamiz suits, one red and one green.
Fawzia Gilani Williams: Books
2002 The Adventures of Musab. London, England: TaHa Publishers.
2003 The Emir and The Verse of the Throne. New Delhi, India: Goodword Publishers.
2003 Eid Kareem Ameer Saab! New Delhi, India: Goodword Publishers.
2004 Aminah and Aisha’s Eid Gifts. New Delhi, India: Goodword Publishers.
2004 A Khimar for Nadia. London, England: TaHa Publishers.
2004 The Troublesome Jinn. London, England: TaHa Publishers.
2004 Celebrating Eid with Ama Fatima. New Delhi, India: Goodword Publishers.
2004 Eid Songs. New Delhi, India: Goodword Publishers.
2004 Eid and Ramadan Songs. New Delhi, India: Goodword Publishers.
2006 Salaam Li and the Dacoits. Islamic New Delhi, India.
2006 Ihtisham and the Eid Shoes. New Delhi, India.
2006 A Poor Widow’s Eid. New Delhi, India.
2006 A Beggar Boy. New Delhi, India.
2006 Father Ant and Pious Groom. New Delhi, India.
2006 A Samosah Maker. New Delhi, India.
2006 An Old Man’s Love for Allah. New Delhi, India.
2007 The Jilbab Maker’s Eid Gift. Malaysia, Noordeen.
2007 Husna and the Eid Party. England, Islamic Foundation.
2007 The Lost Ring. England, Islamic Foundation.
2007 Juna’s Quest – A Hajj Story.Anthology. London, England: An-Najm Publishers.
2008 Ismat’s Eid. Tulika Press, India.
2008 Haleem and Kaleem’s Eid Gifts. Malaysia: Noordeen.
2009 Subhi’s Shoes. Anthology Many Voices One Faith. Arizona: USA.
2009 Gohar the Tailor. Anthology Many Voices One Faith. Arizona: USA.
2009 From God We Come. Anthology Many Voices One Faith. Arizona: USA.
2009 Masarah and the Eligible Bachelors. Anthology Many Voices One Faith. Arizona: USA
2009 A Collection of Eid Stories. Mishkat Publishers: USA.
2010 The Grave Trial. New Delhi, India.
2010 Baba Salaam and the Bag of Gold. New Delhi, India.
2010 Nabeel’s New Pants – An Eid Tale. New York, USA: Marshall Cavendish.
2010 Cinderella – An Islamic Tale. Leicester, England: Islamic Foundation.
2011 Eid Mubarak Meetah Sahib. Malaysia, Noordeen.
2011 Jihad Bin Taye and the Jar of Gold. Malaysia, Noordeen.
2011 Salaam the Selfish Merchant. New Delhi, India.