What do you tell your children when faced with bigotry or racism? Unfortunately, we live in a world where both of these illnesses exist and our children are vulnerable to the snares created by them. When my son first questioned me about the prejudices that he witnessed around him, I was pained to my very core, but grateful to be able to refer to the many civil and human rights activists that have laid a of path pursuing mutual respect among the human family, and to be able to clearly and unequivocally declare that such practices are wrong when referring to the Holy Quran.
In Surah Al Hujraat 49:13 it reads:
O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).
The above mentioned verse came to mind immediately upon reading the manuscript submission for one of our recent publications, You Are Beautiful, and I am so happy to have been able to be a part of the production of such a book. Written by author Robyn Abdusamad and illustrated by author/artist F.A. Ibrahim, this story can be used a valuable tool for initiating a conversation with our children about the whats, hows, whys and solutions for discrimination of all kinds.
You Are Beautiful introduces the characters Zaynab and Zakiyyah, two sisters who experience their first encounter with racial prejudice, and who are saddened by what they hear. Throughout the course of the book they overcome intolerance and realize the beauty of ethnic diversity and true friendship.
At one point in the story, Zaynab and Zakiyyah’s father addresses them:
Their father further explained, “Yes, of course you see color, baby girl, but what your mother means is that you shouldn’t see color as a barrier between you and others. Sweetheart, it is good to love the skin that you are in because the Creator made you that way, but your skin color doesn’t make you better or less than anyone else. Consider your skin color a blessing, but believing that you are better than another person because of it will only lead you to doing bad and unfair things in life.”
It’s more important than ever that we foster love, tolerance and respect for others with our children. Another touching insight in the book comes from Zaynab and Zakiyyah’s mother who says it best:
“Yes, follow the golden rule in treating others the way that you would want to be treated,” their mother added and pulled both of her girls close for a warm hug. “And always remember: no matter what you may see or experience as you grow up in this world, you are beautiful.”