Author Highlight: Amina Banawan
She was born and raised in the US and lived for several years in Qatar and then the UAE. She has taught English to adults and kindergarteners (not at the same time, of course!) and written for online magazines and blogs. She even started her own blog called “Dear Little Auntie,” which was dedicated to providing big-sister advice to young Muslim women seeking guidance on their practice of Islam.
Nowadays, she runs a Facebook page called Qisa (Arabic for “story”), on which she shares free illustrated stories she writes for children, like If You Stand Up to Pray, A Prince for Mama, and a kid-friendly seerah of Prophet Muhammad. She currently lives in Makkah with her husband and two children.
So, what’s the story behind The Green Dinosaur Umbrella? (In the story, an umbrella exchanges hands in Makkah, helping pilgrims along their hajj journey.) Amina has performed the hajj a few times, and for a long time she wanted to write a children’s story about it.
“I kept thinking that I wanted to share the beautiful experience of Hajj with children, and I knew I wanted something to be passed from one person to the other. One of the most touching aspects to me in Hajj is seeing people passing out things, saying, ‘Fee Sabeelillah,’ for the sake of Allah.”
One time, she was walking to Mina with her husband, and a taxi driver jumped out of his car and pulled cold drinks and snacks out of his trunk to share with them.
Amina has seen many such instances of generosity during hajj. “Each one touched me tremendously, and I wanted to share this message of giving entirely for the sake of Allah—of our beautiful sisterhood and brotherhood in Islam.”
However, she couldn’t figure out what item she should use in her story. Then on her latest hajj trip, she saw umbrellas being handed out, and that was the idea that clicked. And of course, “it became a dinosaur umbrella because of my son's obsession with dinosaurs.”
Amina is very passionate about storytelling for Muslim children. “I sincerely believe kids are the future of this ummah. If we can inspire one child, we can change the world. I pray that somehow I can inspire some children and leave some legacy behind.”
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