Books Middle Eastern Literature Non-fiction Wednesday Nonfiction Picture Books Reading Themes

[Nonfiction Wednesday] The Life of a Great Muslim Scholar in Demi’s “Al-Ghazali”


Myra here.

We are delighted to join the Nonfiction Picture Book meme 2017 hosted by Alyson Beecher @ Kid Lit Frenzy. We would also be linking our nonfiction choices with our reading themes throughout the year.

I am fascinated with Demi’s picturebook biographies. She has done quite a few, and I made sure that I hunted down a few that specifically look into Arabic scholars and eminent Muslims who may not be as known to the rest of the world.


Text by: Muhammad Hozien and Gray Henry Illustrated by: Demi
Published by: Fons Vitae, 2014
ISBN: 1941610129 (ISBN13: 9781941610121)
Bought a copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

Over the past several weeks, I have been sharing Fatima Sharafeddine’s picturebook biographies of eminent individuals from the Middle East. This life story narrative of Al-Ghazali written with the assistance of Muslim scholars who specialized in the works of Imam al-Ghazali and illuminated by Demi’s exquisite art, is a not-to-be missed book.

Imam Al-Ghazali, known to be one of the most influential and exemplary scholars in the Arabic World, has led a life of utter simplicity that he came to be known as the “Proof of Islam.” From his very humble beginnings, he persevered and led a life of scholastic work, along with his very eloquent brother, that he became a highly sought-after teacher and consultant of leaders from all over the world on highly important state issues.

However, he was so worried about the purity of his soul and his heart, of his growing pride and arrogance, that he gave up everything he owned, made sure that his family was adequately taken cared of, and traveled instead to Damascus, the Umayyad Mosque, and Jerusalem to live a life of obscurity and service to God. He also went on a pilgrimage to Mecca as he avidly wrote about his insights and realizations about the world.

Imam Al-Ghazali eventually ended up writing over 250 books on law, theology, spirituality, law, and philosophy. More than anything, this book has made me reflect on my role as an educator, what my own goals are, and whether I am also living a life of service and meaning. This is a beautiful read.

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

3 comments on “[Nonfiction Wednesday] The Life of a Great Muslim Scholar in Demi’s “Al-Ghazali”

  1. annettepimentel

    I love the borders on the art. So perfect for a book about a Muslim scholar.


  2. lindabaie

    It’s quite wonderful to me that these stories from long ago have been kept and are now re-told. This looks beautiful, Myra.


  3. Pingback: [Saturday Reads] Favourite Titles Across GatheringBooks’ 2017 Reading Themes – Gathering Books

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