A few weeks ago, as I prepared my two year old for bed, I decided to skip his usual truck book and switch it up with some quick storytelling. As I lay him down and looked into his sleepy, glazed eyes, I opened up with a short re-telling of the story of the Elephant and Abraha. My little one gazed at me with wide open eyes, enthralled, silent, listening intently.
The next morning, on the way to school, my young son surprised me with a request, “Mama, can you tell me the story of the Elephant?” I honestly did not expect him to remember it. For the next couple of days it was all he wanted to hear from me, his father or his grandma. I had not expected he would be so open to listening to this story, and that he would be able to internalize it. I realized then that he was ready for more stories from the Quran.
Since then, I’ve racked my brains for Quranic stories that make mention of animals; at his age that’s what he’s interested in. He loves the story of Prophet Yunus, Sulaiman and the ant, and loves to tell me about the different animals that Prophet Nuh may have taken with him on his Great Ark.
With his older sisters, I turn the stories into a graphic storytelling experience, drawing a crown to symbolize the Queen of Sheba, a castle, a bird and lots of ants marching along. I retold the stories to them over and over until I reached a point where I thought they’d gotten sick of it.
Recently my six-year-old daughter started asking me to tell her a story during our morning drive to school. I figured it had been long enough since I told one of my Quranic stories. This time around, with my older children, I’ve found myself delving into the feelings of the Prophets while they lived their struggle with their people. The pain in Prophet Nuh’s heart when he had to give up on his son; the overwhelming fear in Yunus’s heart as he found himself in pitch black darkness, unable to see his own hand stretched before him; the thankfulness and joy that flowed from Sulaiman’s heart as he realized Allah’s blessings on him allowing him to understand the language of the ant.
As my children go through different stages of their life, I realize that the Quranic tales are truly timeless, connecting with each of my children, at different stages of their young lives. We did not need make believe stories to entertain, the Quran is what they want to hear. As I was reminded a few weeks ago, no toddler is too young to be introduced to them and no child is too old to hear them again and again.
Fatima lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and three little musketeers.