Review Blog

Aug 08 2012

Going to Mecca by Na'ima B. Robert

cover image

Ill. by Valentina Cavallini.Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2012. ISBN 1 84780 153 1.
(Ages: 6+) Recommended. Picture book. Religion. Told in sparse, unadorned prose with short sentences, the tale of a family making the journey of a lifetime, that of travelling to Mecca to fulfill the duties of their religion, is fascinating. For those knowing little of the religion of Islam, this is an informally instructive story, mentioning all the customs which are part of the Haj. And the illustrations constructed with a mix of media including collage, display the customs admirably, following and paralleling the storyline making it immediately accessible to those for whom this is new, while reminding those of the faith about the customs they follow.
The first thing the father must do is divest himself of his clothes, and wear the white sheets making him the same as everyone else. Everyone then calls to God to acknowledge that they are there with the call, 'Here I am, O my Lord, here I am'. They all gaze at the Black Stone, sent down from Heaven, then move around the Ka'bah in a great sea of people. While there they stand on the As-Saraa thinking about Hajar and her search for her son, and walk with her across the sands looking for water. The pilgrims then travel to Mina where they sleep for the night before going to Mount Ararat. Back at Mina they find seven pebbles to throw at the Jamarat. Back at Mecca the men shave their heads and the family then returns home, satisfied that they have fulfilled one of the five pillars of the Islamic faith. Each of the rituals relates to the story of Ibrahim (Abraham) the Prophet and his family, and these are explained at the end of the book. Each ritual reminds the participants about facets of their religion and duties to their family.
The book is a fascinating look at the ritual we often hear about but for many of us, know very little, and would be a useful addition to any library.
Fran Knight

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