Fresh Voices: Q&A with Rukhsana Khan, author of Rabia’s Eid!

"Rahmalia’s bright and cheery illustrations beautifully capture the cultural aspects of Eid." —School Library Journal

What inspired you to write Rabia’s Eid? 

I wanted to see if I could explore this new genre of early reader books with an Eid story that says something new. I remember my learning to read journey. Back then the books were very limited! I never saw anyone in them that looked like me or celebrated Eid!

Right now, there are a plethora of lovely Eid books out there and I wondered if I could come at it from a new perspective. I think this is the first early-to-read book about the subject.

Click here to watch a Youtube video for Rabia’s Eid.

What was the most difficult part about writing the book? What part was the easiest? 

What was the most difficult? The format! With easy readers you can’t overwhelm the reader with too much text. There are all kinds of specifications that I wasn’t aware of. And fitting a story within those line breaks etc. was challenging. It’s really given me an even greater respect for these types of books!

What part was the easiest?

Remembering how a little girl like Rabia would experience Ramadan!

What element of the story do you identify with the most and why?

The moment I identify most with is when Rabia’s father asks Rabia to put the ‘Fitr’ (the mandatory charity of feeding one poor person for each person in your family) in the box, she looks out at the crowd and realizes all of them gave enough to feed a poor person for the day. That was the moment that I realized it, too.

I’ve been going to Eid prayer for over fifty years, and I witnessed thousands of people gathered. It never occurred to me that our very presence meant thousands of poor people had been fed. The focus was always on the end of the month of fasting, but that’s not what the holiday is called! In fact, Eid ul Fitr is the first day of the month AFTER Ramadan, Shawwal. And it’s called Eid ul Fitr because of that mandatory charity we give.

What do you want kids today to take away from this story?

I want them to know there’s a time for fun stuff (the henna and pretty dresses) and there’s a time to do good stuff (give charity to help others). The best times in our life do both!

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading about the idea of pride and honor in the antebellum South.

If you could share one aspect of being an observant Muslim with young children, what would it be?

When I first started practicing Islam it looked like it would be so hard. I find Islam to be simple and easy. If you pray five times a day, fast for one month in a year, help feed the poor, dress modestly, be honest and nice to people—God will love you and you’ll go to heaven.

The Fresh Voices series is in coordination with the RHCB DEI Book Club committee.
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