“It is so important to educate our children about the hijab from a young age. Knowledge empowers them. Islam is a beautiful religion that has provided its followers with abundant resources, so why not provide for our children in a kid-friendly manner?”
In an exciting and groundbreaking initiative, author Sahar Jaber has written a new children’s and YA book titled “But Why Is The Hijab So Special?”, in an effort to help quell the misunderstandings and fears around wearing the physical hijab.
TMV sat down with Sahar, and discussed why a book like this is so important in our society today – and why the hijab to her was something so important to write about for all those struggling or overwhelmed with the concept of hijab.
Illustration from the book, courtesy of the author
You can find her book here, and learn more about Sahar and her journey on Instagram here.
Here is TMV’s interview with Sahar, and her fascinating story of hijab, children, and growing up in the West as a Muslim:
TMV: This is a really unique, but well-needed children’s book – what inspired you to write it and was there a particular experience that led you to come up with this idea?
Sahar: Growing up in Western society, the discrimination I faced included bullying, feeling left out, and I was even cornered. Yet, the type of discrimination that bothered me most was the under-representation of Islamic children’s literature. As I used to walk through the library shelves, I felt saddened when I could not find a proper representative of my faith. I often felt forgotten by all these authors. This feeling of betrayal always stood with me.
Upon finding out I was pregnant, I became worried about the world my child would be born into. This fear only inspired me to become an author and be a part of the change by starting an impactful Muslim publication. This publication aims to therefore dedicate 100% of proceeds towards all future Islamic themed books.
Was it difficult to write on the topic of hijab? And were you afraid of potential backlash from the community?
Our shortcomings in the community are that we do not prioritize Islamic literature. It is imperative to encourage our children to change the world by becoming authors, directors, storytellers. Our society is so wired to impact children the same way adults are impacted, such as lectures and speeches. Yet, it is well known that children learn the most through storytelling and tangible books. Why is it then that there is a lack of resources provided to our children and a lack of support provided to the influencers?
It is so important to educate our children about the hijab from a young age. Knowledge empowers them. Islam is a beautiful religion that has provided its followers with abundant resources, so why not provide for our children in a kid-friendly manner?
To you personally, why is it so important to discuss what hijab means?
Although wrapping the hijab may seem like a simple action; it serves as an ultimate performance, a form of worship to God. Yet, the hijab has been degraded to merely its physical attributes. Simultaneously, its real purpose is sugar-coated as a ‘choice.’ This book serves to educate Muslim children that the hijab is not a choice in Islam, but rather an obligation. Allah has provided every individual his choice of free will, but His religion is set in stone.
The most impactful part of a Muslim’s worship is due to his foundation. Issues females face with the hijab are never about the hijab, but about the individual’s theological belief in God. More and more females decide to remove the hijab because they do not feel connected or comprehend its purpose, yet its purpose is clearly to abide by God’s commands. The proper hijab shapes our lifestyle to become the one in which God intended for us – this is in part why I felt so deeply about writing on this topic.
Who do you hope will read this book and what do you hope this book will do for them?
Although both males and females deserve to have their image represented in literature, I felt it more critical to start with a female character’s narrative. From a young age, females are asked to wear the hijab with little to no proper education of the hijab’s requirements. The hijab is not a simple obligation to perform; so why is it then that we expect so much from our children without first providing them with the proper support?
With this book, I hope to provide both males and females, from the age of 7 to 14, with an important opportunity to learn an in-depth analysis of the hijab. This book also includes multiple subtle messages and requirements. Although this book has a female obligation, I encourage mothers to provide this book to their sons, as they also have a responsibility to respect the hijab their mothers, sisters, and one day wives will wear.
You can find “But Why Is The Hijab So Special?” here, and learn more about Sahar and her journey on Instagram here.