Author: Omar Khawaja
Illustrator: Leo Antolini
Publisher: Little Big Kids
Ilyas and Duck Search for Allah is an adorable adventure in which the two main characters go on a quest to look for Allah.
One night, Ilyas wonders about the location of Allah and after discussing this with his good pal Duck, they concoct some ideas of where they might find Him. After encountering a number of unusual and interesting animals along the way, all of whom tell the duo something unique about themselves that Allah has created, Ilyas and Duck realise that they can’t actually see Allah like they can see the animals… Ilyas comes to the realisation that “We see Allah through all His creations. And through them we believe Allah to be true”
The book is based on the following ayah from the Qur’an – Sura 45, verses 3&4 “Indeed, within the heavens and earth are signs for the believers, And in the creation of yourselves and what He disperses of moving creatures are signs for people who are certain [in faith].”
This book is visually amazing for young children. I think that it is safe to say that it is a pioneering book in the world of Islamic literature for children. It is easy to read, the illustrations are graphically captivating, the story, while complex in nature, is explained simply and at the correct level for the targeted ages. It is a great tool for parents to explain about the beauty of creation to very young children and the text and script is perfect for early readers.
Another great aspect of Ilyas and Duck Search for Allah is that fact that it encourages imagination in children. As parents we are always looking for ways to nurture this as child-development experts are increasingly recognizing the importance of imagination and the role it plays in understanding reality. Imagination is necessary for learning about things we don’t directly experience, and allows children to think beyond the scope of normal, everyday life. The fact that Ilyas and Duck visit the jungle, ocean, space among other places, all open up the potential for further conversation and learning about these environments.
The handy definitions of the different animals at the back of the book also provide further talking points for curious children. My younger Little Muslim loves the Alpine Ibex but she insists it is just a goat!
In conclusion, we love Ilyas and Duck Search for Allah. We think its fantastic for Little Muslims. We love that they actually are excited and want to read the book over and over again because it is so well targeted for them. In fact, many nights it gets chosen for bedtime stories over and above other well-known, popular mainstream titles. That’s what makes a good children’s book!
I appreciate the insight you provided related to how the story positions the concept of Allah (God) for young kids. As you rightly observed, the story is based around Sura 45, verses 3&4 (Indeed, within the heavens and earth are signs for the believers, And in the creation of yourselvesand what He disperses of moving creatures are signs for people who are certain [in faith].) There is also an entire page dedicated to explaining this in more detail (ie space scene). As such, the story maintains the Islamic perspective in a way that young kids can relate to. After all, our goal as parents is to help our young kids build a strong sense of their Muslim identity. From this they can acquire a deeper understanding of their faith as they mature.
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For other inquiries, click here for the Ilyas and Duck Official page.