From Seed To Seedling

As I prepare to hit the green button for our ‘Five Pillars: Just To Please Allah’ book launch tomorrow, I’ve been reflecting on the journey we’ve made so far…

Rayyan, my first son, was born two years ago this month and it was shortly after that that I had the idea to write and publish Islamic children’s books. To have moved from a seed of an idea to cradling our first book is nothing short of a blessing, alhamdulillah!

Here are some highlights from our journey so far…

Pray, Pray, Pray Salah

I used to sing ‘row, row, row your boat’ to Rayyan whilst changing his nappy. He loved it! But I wished I could sing him something about Islam and get the same reaction. One day, spontaneously, I replaced the traditional song words with ‘pray, pray, pray salah’ and that was the beginning of our first book. During that year, the wording changed several times until I was happy and had written Five Pillars and its sister book, Good Deeds, to form our Just To Please Allah series.

I Need Another Logo & Website!

I had watched a thought-provoking khutbah by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan: Be Like The Bee and had decided that our children were our precious bees, needing to be nurtured for the future. I had a name! The domain name wasn’t taken so I secured that pronto. Now it was time to call on ‘brother’ Paul, my trusted Web Developer, who has become a family friend over the past few years since I began working with him on older projects. As usual, Paul delivered the logo brief brilliantly and then added his own touch. The hills and skyline were his idea which I love!

I’m No Artist!

I cannot draw. I had to source an illustrator to bring my books to life.

Approaching the amazingly talented husband & wife duo Amir & Meliha Al-Zubi, and getting their agreement to work on our first book was a ‘YES!’ moment! I had been admiring their adorable characters and signature style since discovering YouTube videos such as Upsy Daisy and Arabic Alphabet With Zaky I was childless in those days, enjoying such videos with my nephews and nieces.

Although I’ve been writing on an off, publishing and directing artwork for books was a whole new world – an exciting new world! I love every moment of it because I get to collaborate during the drafting process. Alhamdulillah, both parties are thrilled with Five Pillars and Good Deeds. We are confident that children and adults will love them too!

Ready, Set, Print (GULP)

I would say the only time I have been nervous during the journey so far is when I gave the green light to the printers in China to mass produce our book. It was a leap of faith as I wouldn’t see the result in person until all the money had been paid and the books had been shipped to me.

Here’s the picture sent by the printing firm which gave me goosebumps!

Ship Ahoy!

When we pick up a children’s book and read it within a few minutes, we take for granted how much time and energy went into bringing it into our hands. In fact, I never really gave it much thought before beginning Precious Bees. Imagine my surprise when I learnt printing can take up to a month and shipping another month or so! Another gulp as I received notification that the books had boarded the cargo ship. As the books inched closer to the UK shoreline, the nerves dwindled and an eagerness took its place. I was getting excited!

What’s An Articulated Truck?!

I’ve been learning new things on this publishing path. Including what an articulated truck looks like!

Since this was our first book, we do not have a warehouse or resources like a forklift to receive shipment deliveries. An articulated truck would be delivering the pallet which was too big to access our address. So we had the delivery sent to my family home. My father, brother, niece and nephew helped me unpack the pallet and transfer the boxes into the car. What a wonderful occasion it turned into thanks to that articulated truck!

Later that evening when we all gathered together, I opened a box and took out a book…there were smiles all around, alhamdulillah.

‘Boy Book’

Rayyan is beginning to talk now and refers to himself as ‘boy’. So it’s ‘boy car’, ‘boy lego’. My heart leaps with joy whenever he reaches for Five Pillars: Just To Please Allah and says ‘boy book’. He will then point to himself and the boy on the front cover and say ‘boy’. Then he’ll point to the girl on the cover and say ‘Ammu’ – that’s me! It makes me laugh because I look nothing like the girl on the cover but adore him for including me.

What’s extra special is in the last few weeks he is saying a lot more…he takes the book to 6 month old Ridhwan who loves hearing the song and says ‘look baby, boy book’. Rayyan can now sing the first line and then puts his own unique spin on it by trailing off with ‘alhamdulillah’ which isn’t part of the book but so apt!

Time To Launch

The seed of an idea to write and publish Islamic children’s books two years ago is now a seedling in the form of Five Pillars: Just To Please Allah, alhamdulillah. Which leads me back to where I began in this blog post – it’s time to launch our first book. Bismillah…