Al-shaam, the blessed land, is an important part of Islamic culture. Syria used to be a place Muslims aspired to visit one day. To see the graves of prophets and sahaba and to marvel at its Islamic history. This is all easy to explain to children, but how do you explain the war? How do you explain the conflict that is not ending in the once exemplary and most mystical of lands?
Regrettably, I would often bypass the subject. I literally had no way of explaining the conflict there. As much as I hoped my kids could achieve empathy for their fellow Muslim brothers and sisters, how do you explain the treachery and bloodshed to a five year old?
And then Ayesha Desai went and wrote this book which she called “Jasmine in the Wind”. A children’s book which I read aloud for the benefit of the kids.
The book doesn’t leave out the injustices or the trauma felt by little Afra, but puts you in her shoes. Reading the book from her perspective means my kids were able to understand her suffering.
The book leaves out the politics (which is often what I get asked: why is there a war?) and focuses on the emotions of an exhausted little girl who has to flee her home and travel across the world to make a new home in a place where she doesn’t understand the local language. A girl who almost loses her father, and who has to stop being a carefree child for a while.
My kids now have a place in their heart for Afra and her little brother Yahya. They now know the plight of the Syrian child. They know some were not as lucky as Afra and they know the Syria before the war, when the Jasmine bush fragranced the street and peace reigned over Shaam.
I’m so grateful for this book which enabled us to address thoughts that would probably have not come up. I am also grateful that I was able to talk about issues other than the fighting for which their are too many explainations. Instead of focusing on the “why” and “when will it end”, we were able to go deeper into the individual life of someone who could very well have been my own daughter.
Ayesha uses a writing style which is easy for children to comprehend but also enjoyable when read by an adult. It kept the children’s attention and added words to their vocabulary.
This book is a must read for every child who has unanswered questions about the war in Syria and for parents who find it difficult to explain.
Get the book! It is available from Raabia Rawat @trendsetterhijabibooks on Instagram or directly from the publisher Prolance Publishing.