They are Harry Potter Books with Difference
Syed Ali Mujtaba
Muslim parents are always trying to figure out how to raise their children in a multicultural society while maintaining their religious identity. In such struggles some parents either overdo their part, and make their child a total misfit for the outside world, or keep them totally ignorant about their faith and let them fall prey to the dominant social milieu. In such a complex situation, some parents who may like to impart religious education to their children in a modern way find it difficult to source quality children’s books that can provide a clear understanding of Islam.
Understanding this dilemma, a New Delhi based publisher, Saniyasnain Khan has come up with the splendid idea to bring out a wide range of children’s books on Islam in English. Published under the banner Goodword Books, its popularity is slowly climbing the charts, and distributors call them the Harry Potter books on Islam.
The birth of Goodword Books
The journey for the inception of Goodword Books began with a humble attempt by the noted Indian Islamic scholar Maulana Wahiduddin Khan whose endeavor to present the peace-loving message of Islam has led to a widespread acceptance and popularity of his books. His son Saniyasnain Khan, carrying forward his message, has taken the initiative to produce high quality children’s books on Islam and started Goodword Books in 1996 and Goodword Kidz in 1999. Currently there are 35 people working at its head office in New Delhi, India.
Originally known as Al-Risala, Goodword Books boasts a wide range of children’s products: Islamic children's books, Islamic story books, board games, puzzles, gift packs, coloring books, mazes, crosswords, word searches, Quran stories, seerah stories, and many more exciting and fun-filled ideas and activities. With a hundred distributors in 20 countries its main markets are the UK, USA, India and Pakistan.
Saniyasnain Khan - Inspiring Muslim children
Goodword’s moving spirit, Saniyasnain Khan, is a well known author of children’s books on Islamic subjects. He has over 100 titles to his credit.
Some of them; Tell Me About the Prophet Muhammad, Tell Me About Hajj, Tell Me About the Prophet Musa, Tell Me About the Prophet Yusuf, My First Quran Storybook, and many more are very popular. His books have been translated into French, Danish, Turkish, Urdu, Arabic, Malay, and Uzbek languages.
Talking to DinarStandard Saniyasnain Khan says Islam is essentially a religion of peace and harmony but there are two main reasons why some people dislike Muslims and Islam. One is violence that has been associated with it, the other is the perceived bad treatment of women by Muslims.
‘I felt that there was a pressing need to educate the new generation about the real Islamic values so that they become little ambassadors of Islamic goodness and they also stimulate them to learn about Islamic ideals as they grow up,’ said Mr. Khan, whose first book “Tell Me About Hajj” has sold over 30,000 copies.
"Children get a lot of negative information about Islam. There is a big need to give them the right picture so that they grow up to be peace-loving individuals” said Mr. Khan who often contributes articles on spirituality to the Times of India.
A trustee of CPS International, a non-profit organization working towards peace and spirituality, the 48 years old Mr Khan says “my endeavor is to present books for children that provide a solid foundation of Islamic moral values. The basic purpose of these books is to teach themes carefully chosen from the Quran and other Islamic sources so that the children not only learn its ethical values but also embody them in their lives.”
Success of "Tell Me" series and quality production
Talking about the popularity of his books, he said the “Tell Me" series is very popular among parents and showed a letter from a Malaysian gentleman that said; "I believe that in the current condition of the world, stories from the “Tell Me" series are very important and its my hope and desire that these stories may reach out to non-Muslims as well and become as popular as Cinderella stories!"
Similarly, a teacher from Priestmead Middle School in Middlesex, UK, wrote him: "I am trying to make our Muslim children feel that their faith is accepted in school and would like to seek your permission to use ‘Little Hearts’ books as part of the discourse for the school assembly.”
Mr Khan who often participates in inter-faith initiatives towards peace and non-violence says these books are for children of all faiths. Recently a school in Delhi prescribed some of the books for its library and there is mention of their book ‘My First Quran’ in the catalogue recommended to teachers in British schools.
“It is a well-known fact that words and pictures together are most effective when it comes to teaching children. Goodword’s books combine simple language with imaginative illustrations so that children are attracted to them,” says Mr Khan adding “we are trying a more reasonable and simple approach so that children of all faiths find them attractive.”
Goodword’s area of specialization is Islamic stories for children based on the Quran and Hadith. There are more than 500 plus titles to its credit. These books are completely dedicated to developing meaningful and wholesome Islamic and moral values. There are more than 20 distinguished writers associated with Goodword Books. Sr. Nafees Khan (Canada), Tahir Kassam Ali (USA), Luqman Nagi (Saudi Arabia), Harun Yahya (Turkey), Dr. V. Abdur Rahim (Saudi Arabia), Fawzia Gilani-Williams (USA), Salma Umm Zainab (USA), Maryan Kinte (UK), Sajda Nazlee (UK) are but a few.
Goodword Books are available at most Islamic bookstore in more than twenty countries including the UK, USA, Malaysia, India and Pakistan. The Online Holy Books Shop India offers an extensive range of Goodword Books and other products like audio, CDs, and DVD. The Goodword Book’s website contains a wealth of information at http://www.goodwordbooks.com/.
Besides children’s books, Goodword also publishes books for adults. These range in subject matter from history, religion and philosophy to dawah and Arabic learning. It has already produced a vast body of well researched books on Islam and Islamic history, all written by noted scholars and academicians. The rich collection of books presented by Goodword makes it a leading name in the publication of meaningful, authentic books on Islam. It has also started selling Urdu translations of its books.
Mr. Khan, sums up his dream saying the long term vision of Goodword is to generate the love of Islam in children and young people so that when they grow up they spread its beauty around them.
Syed Ali Mujtaba is a working journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org