The Runaway Scarf, a new book by Twin Cities-based writer Corey Habbas, is a story about human justice and freedom inspired by an Islamic hadith. The 52-page illustrated children’s book is set to be available at the end of February.
Habbas is also a regular contributor to EngageMN.com.
“I was mad after watching that movie Hidalgo,” Habbas said, “because it was such a distortion about Muslims, and that is what inspired this book. I wrote it in 2004 [after the movie was released], and it took me a long time to get it published!”
The book follows an African slave, named Ibsitu, who finds compassion and freedom once she escapes to the first Muslim community established by Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the city of Madinah.
“It’s important that Muslim children learn about who they are by taking from Islamic sources, not from an entertainment industry that feeds on a climate of misunderstandings,” Habbas said in a release.
The book, issued by Muslim Writers Publishing, is now available through the publisher and Amazon.com and is scheduled to be available on IslamicBookstore.com. Look for more about the book, and its journey to publication.
By Corey Habbas
“Look at any advertisement. Is a woman being used to sell the product? How old is she? How attractive is she? What is she wearing? More often than not, that woman will be…taller, slimmer and more attractive than average, dressed in skimpy clothing. Why do we allow ourselves to be manipulated like this?” So asks a Muslim teen, Sultana Yusufali, in an article she wrote for Toronto Star Young People’s Press.
Her indignation is not unlike that which Muslims living here in the Twin Cities and elsewhere feel when they see women treated like commodities.
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By Corey Habbas
This month, the Arabic language came under attack when Debbie Almontaser, principal of the Khalil Gibran International Academy, New York’s first public school that integrates Arabic language and cultural studies with a public school curriculum, explained that the English translation for the word “intifada,” literally means to “shake off.” Almontaser had been asked to explain a word on the T-shirts circulated by the AWAAM (Arab Women Active in the Arts and Media), a Brooklyn-based organization that empowers girls and women.
To the people who wear the T-shirts inscribed with “Intifada NYC,” it is a non-violent term that the AWAAM internalizes to mean a nonviolent shaking-off of pressures related to prejudice.
“I feel, as an Arab woman, as a Muslim woman and as a woman of color, pressure from two sides,” says Mona ElDahry, co-founder of AWAAM, in an August 2007 interview with Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!
In the interview, Mona ElDahry describes the first pressure as the prejudice faced by Muslims and Arabs in the streets. The second pressure, she says, is when youth go home to their families, especially after the September 11 tragedy, and are told that they must hide their heritage, their language and remain silent about political issues.
Khalil Gibran International Academy has no affiliation with the AWAAM. But simply for explaining the meaning of an Arabic word, Almonaster and her school were attacked. In the same interview, activist and educator Paula Hajar comments, “It’s tragic that they attack the language the way they do.” Hajar notes how Arabic terms are frequently twisted and misinterpreted. “…the [Arabic] word for a school is madrasah, and they use it as an epithet, you know, that this was going to be a madrasah, meaning [to those who were against the school] a training ground for jihadists…” Hajar, who still hopes to see the new school open, expresses, “..it’s kind of tragic for all of us to see our culture peeled away this way and trashed, really.”
The attack on Khalil Gibran International Academy is one of the most recent examples of America’s fear of the Arabic language, but it is only one of numerous examples throughout the nation.