I’m thrilled to review Ramadan The Holy Month of Fasting by Ausma Zehanat Khan. I’m so pleased to see such a highly-accessible book about Ramadan for older readers (9–12 years). The book is printed in full color with lots of pictures. After the typical sections on what Ramadan is about, Khan has included sections on community engagement and the culture of Ramadan around the world.
The first two chapters cover the basics of Ramadan, including an introduction to Islam, an explanation of fasting and the special role of the Quran in Ramadan, and Eid. The third chapter talks about different ways Muslims are engaging with their communities in Ramadan, including the Give 30 initiative to fight hunger in Canada and the Camp Ramadan initiative, which serves as a retreat for Muslim children. The fourth chapter talks about Ramadan traditions from around the world—I learned that Nigerians break their fast with fruit and that minarets in Turkey are especially decorated with lights to welcome Ramadan.
Interspersed throughout the book are also personal stories from the author and other adults, reflections from kids on what Ramadan means to them, and recipes. The book also includes a glossary, index, and list of resources.
I highly recommend it for every school, library, and Muslim and non-Muslim home.
When reviewing a book, I often gauge my love of it by asking myself if I want to buy a copy to keep in my house forever. And yes, this is a book that I need to have. One reason is that our sizable collection of Ramadan books is nearly entirely a picture-book collection, and I am ecstatic to finally be able to add a book for older readers. Another reason is that unlike other books in this category, there is so much for Muslim children to gain from this book. Usually, I think of books like this one as library books that are primarily intended to educate non-Muslim readers about Islam and our holidays. But this book does something different. Chapter Three has examples of Muslims acting on their faith–examples that I want to share with my children. And Chapter Four shows how Muslims all over the world experience Ramadan. This is important to me because my children have Arab heritage, and I don’t want them to fall into the trap of conflating Arab culture with Muslim culture. Islam and Ramadan belong to us all. The diversity of the ummah makes us better and stronger.
Ramadan is a part of the Orca Origins series, which is not meant to be “the definitive word on any culture or belief; instead they will lead readers toward a place where differences are acknowledged and knowledge facilitates understanding” (from the publisher, Sarah Harvey).
Ramadan was published by Orca Origins in 2018, and you can get a copy here.
Thank you to NetGalley and Orca for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.