The Meat Eating Vegetarian by Caroline Maryam Ward. The Islamic Foundation (2001/1422H). ISBN 0-86037-306-1. 44 pages.
This book is available from Astrolabe (www.astrolabe.com).
This edition is hard cover, with an attractive cover.
The plot line is the attendance of Tasneem, a young British girl of Pakistani origin, in a new elementary school. She makes friends quickly with Lisa and Yvonne. Tasneem invites them to her house for dinner and play when a misunderstanding stemming from Tasneem’s practice of Islam causes the friendship to sour. Thankfully, the observant, caring teacher at the school notices Tasneem’s distress, resolves the misunderstanding and reconciles the three friends.
This book meets all of the five criteria I’ve come up with for a quality Muslim children’s book.
1. I don’t see anything which violates the principles and rules of Islam.
2. The entertainment, for me, lies in the drama of the breakup and reconciliation! Again, parents, let me know what your kids thought.
3. This story showed how a Muslim child encountered difficulty making friends at school but was able to resolve the issue because the other children were basically good. Tasneem learned the value of communicating accurate information about herself to her friends.
4. Well I have to admit that us guys never broke our friendships and reconciled, to my recollection, all within a couple of days! But I think it’s all right.
5. The child learns the definition of halal meat and that Muslim women wear headscarves when out in public and that Muslim girls are not required to wear the scarves.
As a final note, I think many non-Muslims would benefit from reading this book, as it shows that asking questions is better than refraining from asking and then jumping to conclusions. I remember a friend of mine, who would see me carry a prayer mat in my car trunk and pray on it, thought there was something sacred about the prayer mat. He would treat it like a sacred object, neither moving it nor touching it in any way. I finally had to tell him that I used the mat because it’s cleaner than pavement and it prevents grass stains on my clothes, not because it’s a requirement of ritual prayer.
The book is recommended for ages 7-10. I think it'd work better for 9-12, but, again, you parents and teachers let me know.
Last updated August 12, 2006