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Cinderella - Islamic Version


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July 20, 2021, 11:41:46 am Ruhi_Rose: Wa'Salam and Eid al Adha mubarak dear Sis 🙂
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4 months of Hajj, and Surah Al-Fajr.
July 12, 2021, 05:44:36 am Heba E. Husseyn: As we enter the month of Dhul Hijjah 1442, please read what the Great Quran says about Hajj.  Also visit the related links at the end of the same post to learn more.
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Author Topic: Cinderella - Islamic Version  (Read 44 times)
Ruhi_Rose
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« on: July 20, 2021, 08:42:20 pm »





As-Salam Alaykum, Eid-al-Adha mubarak and hey dear kiddies! 😉   InshAllah and Alhumdulilah, I pray all of you are fine.
 
This is written by Fawzia Gilani-Williams, a Muslima who is a well known coffee-table storybook author for kids.  She worked as a librarian, school teacher and principal in UK and North America since early 1990s. 

The story of Cinderella with Islamic variation recounts as follows:


Long ago 'once upon a time'  (in Andalusia, Muslim Spain) there lived a nobleman and his beautiful wife.  They had a little daughter, Zahra, who was gentle and beautiful like her mother.  Every day Zahra and her parents would read the Quran and they never missed a prayer.   After some months, Zahra's mother became ill.  Doctors couldn't cure her and she died.   Father and daughter were heartbroken.  "Inna Lilahey wa Inna Elahey Rajoun" said the father with tears in his eyes.  "Truly we belong to Allah and to Him we will return."    Zahra and her father were very sad but they put their trust in Allah and asked Him to grant them patient and comfort. 



Some years later the father decided to marry again.  He married a widow with two daughters.  In the beginning the stepmother seemed loving and caring.  But as time went by, she became jealous of Zahra (Cinderella) whose humble nature and modest beauty couldn't be matched by the two ill-mannered, arrogant and clumsy stepsisters.  The stepmother began to treat Zahra terribly.  When her husband was away, the stepmother was harsh and unfair to the girl.  She made Zahra do most of the housework while her own lazy daughters played or relaxed.  But Zahra was forgiving and patience.  She never complained to her father.

Three years later, Zahra's father became very ill.  One day he called his daughter and gave her words of advise.  "Follow the Quran and the sunnah.  Never miss your prayers, be patient and humble.  Speak gently and share whatever you have with the poor.  And know that I love you very much.  May Allah protect you and make you a strong Muslim.   You must hold fast to the rope of Allah and never let go."   Then he recited the Shahadah which were his last words.   Zahra whispered "Inna Lilahey wa inna Elahey Rajoun" and wept.

The orphaned child felt very sad.   She had no one to love her.   She missed her mother and father very much.  She often thought of them.   When she prayed, she made special du'as in sujood.  "Du'as made in sajood reach Allah swiftly" her mother had told her.  "Be patient my child" her father had encouraged.   She comforted herself by reading Quran, and the stories of the messengers.  She would wake early in the morning and do her Fajr prayers and read the Quran, then prepare breakfast for her step-family and get busy with the rest of the housework.  Later, she would then offer her midday prayers (Dohr) and eat some lunch in a hurry.   The tougher life became, the stronger grew her iman.   Her stepmother took away Zahra's beautiful dresses and gave her old clothes and rags to wear.  She also took away her bedroom and made Zahra sleep in the attic.  Zahra was ordered to do all the housework.



Soon after there was a knock at the door and her grandmother who was still alive arrived in a grand luxury coach equipped with all necessities and several attendants.  She said, while on her return from Hajj, they had to travel through a country at war for many years and consequently she was trapped and couldn't exit the borders. While there was lots to say, the grandmother said she would tell her story later.  She hugged Zahra and they began to talk.  On learning about the party which Zahra sadly couldn't attend, the grandmother provided her with a nice dress, a green abaya, a headscarf and a pair of slippers that looked like glass.  She apparently had all of this in her luxury coach.   Quickly Zahra washed and made wudu, and then the lady attendants (who travelled with the grandmother in the coach) arranged her hair and scarf and helped her with her clothing. Finally they gently slid the delicate glass slippers into her feet.



When Zahra felt lonely, she would take the leftover crumbs of food and feed the birds.  She enjoyed watching them chirp and peck as she washed the dishes.  Sometimes she would sit with them and sing a song.   Her deeply spiritual soul always felt very close to The Almighty.  On a certain day she said "Alhumdulilah.   Tomorrow is Arafah.  I will fast tomorrow, InshAllah."  And with that intention she fell asleep and dreamed of her grandmother, who years ago had left to make Hajj.  She never returned and most people believed she died during the journey.



Some days passed by and then, an invitation arrived from the King's palace.  A huge party was to be held on the first day of Eid-al-Adha, the celebration after Hajj.   The stepdaughters were all aflutter about what they would wear.  Zahra was just as excited.  The thought of going to the palace and attending the Eid party sounded wonderful.  When she asked one of her stepsisters if she could borrow a dress from her for the party, her request was denied with a flurry of insults.  The girl was distressed beyond words as her step-family merrily left for the party.



Zahra looked in the mirror, she looked elegant and happy.  She took her grandmother's arm and they sat in the beautiful coach. They reached the palace very quickly.   The grandmother told Cinderella that the party would end approximately at 11 o'clock and she must then return home immediately before the arrival of her stem-family.  Zahra said she would remember that, kissed her grandma goodbye with her salam.  The grandmother waited in the coach. 



Zahra walked through the ladies entrance and everyone admired the combination of her beauty and modesty.  Her stepsisters saw and admired her but didn't recognize her.   Zahra caught the attention of the king, queen and the prince.  The queen requested her to sit beside her.  At prayer time, Zahra joined those who went for prayer.  The queen was very impressed by her graceful speech and demeanor.   As soon as the clock struck 11, Zahra ran out in a hurry, leaving one of her glass slippers behind.  The prince picked the slipper and brought it to his mother, the queen.  He mentioned how much he admired the girl who wore the glass slippers and expressed his desire to marry her. 

After taking her home, Zahra's grandmother left, promising to return another day.   The queen and the prince didn't know who Cinderella. She left so hurriedly, they had to find her with the help of the glass slipper.  The next morning the king and queen announced that their son would marry the girl whose foot fitted into that glass slipper.  The town was bubbling with excitement.   The queen's lady took the slippers to many homes but it didn't fit anyone.  When she arrived in Zahra's home, it didn't fit her stepsisters either.  When the queen's lady saw Zahra coming down the stairs, she insisted that Zahra try the slipper too despite loud objections from her stepsisters.  The slipper smoothly fitted Zahra perfectly, and she also showed the other one she had with her.  The stepmother yelled with fury that as the "mother" she would not give her the permission to Zahra to wed the prince.  Just then, Zahra's grandmother entered their home, announcing her willing permission for her granddaughter to marry the prince.  That nullified any decisions of the stepmother. 

 

Thereafter, Zahra and the prince were married in a joyous ceremony.  They lived happily 'ever after' with the king, the queen and Zahra's grandmother.  The stepsisters filled with shame asked forgiveness and were forgiven by Cinderella.





Moral of the story:  "fa-inna maʿa l-ʿus'ri yus'ran" (Verse 94:5 Surah Al-Inshirah)  Translation: "So indeed, with hardship (is) ease."   Sabr is important but not in the face of intentional abuse by other humans when you have the right to speak up and seek help.



Cinderella (Islamic perspective) movie on Youtube:




Any comments on what you folks think about this story adapted by Fawzia Gilani-Williams?   😊




Related link:
- Prince and the peasant girl (you cannot separate yourself from your roots)

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Heba E. Husseyn
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« Reply #1 on: July 20, 2021, 10:17:01 pm »



Hummm .. read it and also watched it in that Youtube link.

Cinderella is one of the oldest fairy tale love stories with many cultural variations.  The Islamic variation is realistic and amazing, and certainly not "preachy," a somewhat senseless term stereotype Muslims use more often than not.

Teaching Islamic values to children with variations of old fairy tales transformed into Islamic based principles is a good idea for sure.  Zahra's (the Muslim Cinderella) personality stands out not just for her physical beauty, but for her immense patience, insight and piety, making it more feminist than the Grimm or Disney version.  Also, the absence of magics and magical wands creates a aura of realism with a far deeper element of aspiration for young minds.  The emphasis is strongly on moral character and modesty.  Nice to read several translated quotes from the Noble Quran included in the text indicating the girl's wisdom and trust in Allah Almighty she needs and relies upon in her daily struggles and even at the party.  

The illustrations by Shireen Adams aren't quite the best, however the backdrop of charming medieval Al-Andalusia creates a surreal atmosphere in the mind of the reader .. like stepping into the time tunnel of the memory lane!   With its clear moral messages, this isn't really a love story and the prince has a very small role, which I think could have been portrayed a bit differently and yet maintain the Islamic perspective. 

Without a doubt, it's nice children's story .. interesting, clean with fine teachings.
  
It has a critical aspect too.  It's inclined somewhat toward pacifism, stretching the concept of sabr to the point of slight distortion.  Description of abuse towards an orphan child is quite profound and dramatic in this book.   Yet eventually it all culminates to forgiveness.  But children also need to be reassured that life isn't all about unconditional forgiveness.  Contrary to Fawzia Gilani's message, children must know that they are entitled to speak against abuse, be it emotional or physical, and it's the duty of those who are aware of such abuse to assist.  Everyone's life is worth something and no one deserves to be inflicted with torment and suffer in silence.  The Quran has made that very clear.  "Allah loves not the utterance of harsh speech save by one who has been wronged."  (4:148) An-Nissa.    A very powerful Verse with a very fair message, Alhumdulilah. 
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« Reply #2 on: July 20, 2021, 10:29:23 pm »


Yes this story is well adapted but a bit like encouraging children to tolerate abuse.   Coping with abuse in silence should not be equated with sabr.  This is not what Allah means by sabr in the Quran.   Sabr is for difficult times that are beyond our control like death of a loved one, destruction due to wars, natural hazards, loss of a job or financial distress etc.   If someone in your household is abusing you, that cannot be categorized as beyond anyone's control.  The abuser cannot claim it's beyond their control to quit abusing and neither should it be said to the poor victim that it's beyond anyone's power to stop their abuser.  If a kid is facing such a situation, it needs to be taken care of immediately for which the kid needs to speak aloud so others can take steps to completely stop the ill-treatment and harassment.

Furthermore, maybe one variation in this story wasn't really required, in that, the prince could have had a bigger role as Sister Heba suggested.   Author could have maintained that Zahra (cinderella) was, for example, taking a stroll in the woods dressed in her full hijab of course, and the prince with his entourage were passing through the woods, he saw her, stopped and spoke to her for a while (just a clean meeting with a formal chat), he liked her and then left for the palace.  Subsequently when the palace threw an Eid-al-Adha party inviting everyone in town, the prince waited for her to arrive so he could meet her again and introduce her to his parents for an upcoming marriage proposal.  From the Islamic perspective, there's absolutely nothing wrong with such a meeting.
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« Reply #3 on: July 20, 2021, 10:33:26 pm »




Furthermore, maybe one variation in this story wasn't really required, in that, the prince could have had a bigger role as Sister Heba suggested.   Author could have maintained that Zahra (cinderella) was, for example, taking a stroll in the woods dressed in her full hijab of course, and the prince with his entourage were passing through the woods, he saw her, stopped and spoke to her for a while (just a clean meeting with a formal chat), he liked her and then left for the palace.  Subsequently when the palace threw an Eid-al-Adha party inviting everyone in town, the prince waited for her to arrive so he could meet her again and introduce her to his parents for an upcoming marriage proposal.  From the Islamic perspective, there's absolutely nothing wrong with such a meeting.


This is exactly what I meant ......


And, you've analyzed the issues of sabr very sensibly.  Alhumdulilah.
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« Reply #4 on: July 20, 2021, 10:53:53 pm »



For sure a nice and interesting read.   Sister Ruhi's coffee-table posts are wonderfully paraphrased and presented.   Subhan'Allah. 

I also agree with those two points raised by Sister Heba and Br. TS.  It could have been written as a love story on the lines indicated by brother TS and yet retained as a very Halal, Islamic story.    Secondly, the element of needless pacifism is definitely there which distorts the Quranic concept of sabr and also makes it unrealistic as no one in real life tolerates this sort of abuse, not to this extent.  The Grimm & Disney Cinderella story is a fairy tale which is always surreal, filled with strange fantasies.  But the Islamic adaption needs to be more down-to-earth with greater connotations to truth in earthly life.  But I'm not surprised about this oversight by Fawzia Gilani-Williams.  Those practicing Muslims born and raised in the West who have made a career for themselves requiring to blend with the mainstream in certain ways, always want to present Muslim personalities as voiceless .. victims who never speak, misusing and misinterpreting our Islamic concept of sabr.  As a Muslima I fully assert that sabr does not mean pacifism.  It doesn't mean unconditional silence on the face of abuse.  Allah has made that ample clear in His Final Message.

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« Reply #5 on: July 20, 2021, 10:55:13 pm »



Agree 100% sis .....
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« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2021, 03:11:08 am »



Wa'salam and thanks for those illuminating comments and appreciation.  Agree with brother TS' suggestion.  All love stories aren't necessarily Haram.  It depends how it's presented.  It's the manner of interaction that makes it either Halal or Haram.   Allah says "There is no blame on you for that which you speak indirectly in the asking of women in marriage or keep (the proposal) concealed within your minds.  Allah knows that you will remember them.  But do not give them a promise in secret unless you speak in a lawful manner.  And do not consummate the marriage until (the term) prescribed is run.   Know that Allah knows what is in your minds, .."  (2:235)  Al-Baqrah.  Alhumdulilah, a very comprehensive instruction for a situation as this. 

Also agree Zahra-cinderella has been portrayed rather tongueless    A sister-friend was saying that back in those times everywhere in the world women and girls could do very little in such abusive circumstances.  To an extent I understand, in that, there was no 9-1-1 to call and not social security projects to protect abuse.  Only family could help and in this case there was no family for the girl until the granny appeared.  But as a moral story for contemporary readers, some historical aspects can be put aside.


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« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2021, 03:19:34 am »



Wa'salam and thanks for those illuminating comments and appreciation.  Agree with brother TS' suggestion.  All love stories aren't necessarily Haram.  It depends how it's presented.  It's the manner of interaction that makes it either Halal or Haram.   Allah says "There is no blame on you for that which you speak indirectly in the asking of women in marriage or keep (the proposal) concealed within your minds.  Allah knows that you will remember them.  But do not give them a promise in secret unless you speak in a lawful manner.  And do not consummate the marriage until (the term) prescribed is run.   Know that Allah knows what is in your minds, .."  (2:235)  Al-Baqrah.  Alhumdulilah, a very comprehensive instruction for a situation as this.   

Indeed correct ..... and very apt Verse to quote. 





.. A sister-friend was saying that back in those times everywhere in the world women and girls could do very little in such abusive circumstances.  To an extent I understand, in that, there was no 9-1-1 to call and not social security projects to protect abuse.  Only family could help and in this case there was no family for the girl until the granny appeared.  But as a moral story for contemporary readers, some historical aspects can be put aside.


In Al-Andalusia, Muslim Spain, an era which stretched from approximately 800 AD to end 1400s, they were actually very careful about  the well-being of orphans.  If a girl went to the Caliph's court and complained being abused by a stepmom as terrible as this, they would do quite a lot to protect the poor girl.
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« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2021, 03:24:55 am »




In Al-Andalusia, Muslim Spain, an era which stretched from approximately 800 AD to end 1400s, they were actually very careful about  the well-being of orphans.  If a girl went to the Caliph's court and complained being abused by a stepmom as terrible as this, they would do quite a lot to protect the poor girl.


Yeah that sounds like an authentic point.  Thanks brother.

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