It’s been two years since I published my childrens picture book ‘Treasures of Jannah’ and I’ve spent the last few days reflecting on the blessings and impact in the last two years. The first year was focused on promotion and getting my book out in the world. The second year however, has been amazing and full of impact of what was once a dream four years ago. My top 3 achievements for ‘Treasures of Jannah’ this year are:
- ‘Treasures of Jannah’ West African tour; it was an honour to speak and hold workshops about ‘Treasures of Jannah’ in two cities in Ghana, West Africa. I was invited to Fatima Farida Academy in Kumasi and La Mosque in Accra, Ghana to do readings and workshops about Jannah. I did not expect the warm receptions and responses to my book by the students and teachers, and never in my wildest dreams imagined I would be talking about my story half way across the world. Hearing the children talk about, write and draw all the things they wanted to do in their eternal home was mind blowing and humbling. I learnt so much from my special trip to Ghana particularly that Jannah dreams are personal to each and everyone of us. The moment that brought to me tears was when one beautiful princess told me “she wants to see aunty Yasmin in Jannah”. Aside from being the best compliment I’ve ever received, no amount of book sales or publicity could replace that special moment with such a powerful prayer that touched me to my core. I couldn’t believe that little old me, with what once was a dream had a child pray to see me in paradise and helped me appreciate the legacy I was leaving.
Ibn Al-Jawzi, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: If you do not find me amongst you in Jannah, then ask about me and say: Oh Our Lord, your servant so and so use to remind us of you.
It’s very easy to be consumed by just making as many sales as you can as an author because let’s face it, it takes a lot of resources such as time and money to publish a book. This is especially rife in the current climate where there is a lot of emphasis on making money and sales. The statement from the princess who wanted to meet me in Jannah was a much needed reminder for me about the importance of prioritising leaving a legacy or ongoing charity (sadaqah jariyah) which cannot be quantified in this world.
- Guest author for World book day 2019 at Buttercups primary school – This was more than relaying my story and involved a Jannah visualisation exercise where I asked the children to imagine doing the things they love to do with no limits and definitely no bossy grown ups to stop them. It was amazing to watch smiles appear cute, little faces and hands shoot up, eager to tell me about super hero powers, chocolate castles and funny conversations with their favourite prophets in Jannah. The energy and excitement in the room left me buzzing days after the event.
- Black history month 2019- I was Invited to talk about and promote ‘Treasures of Jannah’ and also as a panellist at the celebrating Black Muslim women event. I received an overwhelmingly positive response from Black Muslim families on how they felt the black characters in the book were positive representations for their children who rarely see themselves in story books let alone Muslim story books. The illustrations in the book were inspired by my own children who I wanted to grow up seeing themselves as the main characters in an Islamic book. This is something that was lacking when growing up as a Black Muslim girl. For this reason, I am passionate about the diversity in Islam being reflected in Muslim story books.
The theme that is evident in my top three achievements is that they are all centred around long lasting impact which for me has always been my driving force when turning what was once a dream into the reality it is today.