Great initiatives are worth highlighting, not only because they are a means of inspiration, but also because they can directly benefit many. Shade 7 Publishing is one of those initiatives. So HOTD brings you this interview with Sr. Hajera Memon, the founder of the creative new Publishing House: Shade 7 Publishing, to explore how this project could benefit you and the children in your family.
- First of all, it’s not easy finding rich, educational and entertaining publications for little Muslims; what motivated you to start this important and challenging project?
The main reason is that good quality, entertaining and inspiring Islamic resources for young children aren’t as widespread as their Christian counterparts.
I always felt that we have the BEST stories in the Qur’an; stories that are truly rich and packed with inspirational gems and everlasting wisdom. They can help us get through our daily lives brilliantly if we find the right way to understand, ponder and engage with them.
Making these magnificent stories accessible to children would be great for them, and would also serve as an interactive resource for the whole family to enjoy together. This is what I grew up with; my father telling me stories from the Qur’an. So I wanted everyone to enjoy this experience as well, in shaa’ Allah.
Another key motivation is to have this project as a sadaqah jaariyah (ceaseless charity); I was consciously looking for what would benefit me when I pass away. Beneficial knowededge is a great legacy to leave behind and also to spend your life working on.
- What is the name “Shade 7” inspired from? Why did you choose this specifically for your work?
The name Shade 7 was inspired from the following hadith:
Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported:
Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Seven people Allah will give them His Shade on the Day when there would be no shade but the Shade of His Throne (i.e., on the Day of Resurrection): And they are: a just ruler; a youth who grew up with the worship of Allah; a person whose heart is attached to the mosques, two men who love and meet each other and depart from each other for the sake of Allah; a man whom an extremely beautiful woman seduces (for illicit relation), but he (rejects this offer and) says: ‘I fear Allah’; a man who gives in charity and conceals it (to such an extent) that the left hand does not know what the right has given; and a man who remembers Allah in solitude and his eyes become tearful”. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Our children’s books are developed with the intention of helping parents and educators raise a community of youths who grow up in the worship of Allah Almighty through creative, interactive and engaging teaching tools.
HOTD shared a wonderful article called The Seven Under Allah’s Shade –I recommend everyone to read to familiarise themselves with the hadith further.
- Tell us more about the Wudu book: it does indeed seem quite unique and interesting. How did you choose this fun idea of it being something that kids can actually put in water?
There is a real need to start introducing basic Islamic concepts to children in a fun, memorable way. The Wudu book is very simple; it’s a waterproof bath book, which contains white illustrations of all the body parts we wash in the order we wash them. When the book is put in water, the white illustrations change colour, adding an element of excitement for children (and adults too!).
This book is for young children who are at the age of learning the names of body parts. It’s a really easy way to bring Islam into a child’s bathtime as well as their educational routine. This book was something I felt could belong to the child, their own special connection with taking their first steps towards doing this important act of worship and preparing for Salah (prayer).
- Why did you start with the Story of The Elephant from the Noble Qur’an? What are the stories you plan to cover next?
I started with Surat Al Fil (Chapter 105 of the Qur’an) because it was one of my favourites as a child. It was short, and contained striking imagery and powerful lessons. It was a practical one to start the journey with, and again, everything just fell into place by God’s grace, Alhamdulillah.
All the stories from the Qur’an are great, especially the Prophetic ones and these are the ones I hope to focus on next, in sha’ Allah. Some of the brilliant stories of Prophet Yusuf/Joseph (peace be upon him), Prophet Musa/Moses (peace be upon him) and Prophet Nuh/Noah (peace be upon him), to name a few are in the pipeline as well.
Of course there is so much to unpack in these stories, which requires significant time and funding to develop, illustrate, and advance into production. We ask the HOTD readers to make dua that Allah (swt) makes this possible and easy for us, in shaa’ Allah!
- What do you think is the most important message you try to deliver for children through your publications?
The most important goal for me is to inspire children to build a connection with Allah (swt) throughout their lives. Children have pure fitra (God-given nature); they believe with sincerity, it is the parents that teach them different things.
I found it particularly striking to see how many children believe in Santa Clause/Father Christmas, the tooth fairy, and I’m sure plenty of other fictional characters. They believe in them strongly, and without even questioning.
This is where I saw a true need to plant the seeds of imaan (faith) from an early age in our children to nurture their faith in Allah. I thought to myself, SubhanAllah, if we could give a child the foundations of an unshakable belief and reliance on Allah by inspiring them with interactive, engaging stories and lessons from the Qur’an, then what a different society of strong, loving, kind and confident people we would have in the years to come, in shaa Allah!
- The Biography of our Noble Prophet sets an incomparably rich reference to raise children with noble character and hearts full of light. How do you use the Prophetic tradition as means of inspiration in your work and your productions for the children?
Good question! This reminds me of the hadith:
Sa’d ibn Hisham reported: Ammar said, “O mother of the believers, tell me about the character of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him.” Aisha said, “Have you not read the Qur’an? Verily, the character of the Messenger of Allah was the Qur’an.” [Sunan an-Nasa’i 1601].
So for me, it’s the stories from the Qur’an that are absolutely intertwined as a means of inspiration to educating our children and youth about the Prophetic tradition and the various ways Allah (swt) brought comfort to the Messenger (peace and blessings upon him) through the revelation of these stories.
- Parents are usually very picky – righly so- about the materials they share with their children at young age. In your opinion, why should parents trust and seek your publications?
Parents should absolutely take an active and responsible interest in their child’s education generally, not just their Islamic eduation. Alhamdulillah, our work has been approved and checked thoroughly by a number of scholars and trustworthy institutions. Our first two publications, The Story of The Elephant and My First Wudu Book have been sponsored by our publication partners Bayyinah and Islamic Relief UK. We hope this brings reassurance to our customers, parents and teachers, in shaa’ Allah.
- Do you have last comments or insights to share with the readers?
There are many entrepreneurs and especially authors and publishers taking brave steps to make a positive difference. To all of them, I would say: continue to renew your intentions, and please carry on! Take that step, know it will be hard, but let the driving force and motivation be this: our Ummah needs you! Everyone has the ability to make a contribution in their own special way and it is only Allah (swt) who grants us our rizq (provision), so seek and ask from Him alone!
You can buy Hajera Memon’s book here