Title: Mommy’s Khimar
Author: Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
Genre: Children’s Book (4-8)
Illustrator: Ebony Glenn
Publisher: Salaan Reads
Released: April 2018
Source: I borrowed a copy from Abu Dhabi Children’s Library
Purchase: Amazon | GoodReads | Salaam Reads
A young Muslim girl spends a busy day wrapped up in her mother’s colorful headscarf in this sweet and fanciful picture book from debut author and illustrator Jamilah Tompkins-Bigelow and Ebony Glenn.
A khimar is a flowing scarf that my mommy wears.
Before she walks out the door each day, she wraps one around her head.
A young girl plays dress up with her mother’s headscarves, feeling her mother’s love with every one she tries on. Charming and vibrant illustrations showcase the beauty of the diverse and welcoming community in this portrait of a young Muslim American girl’s life.
When I wear Mommy’s khimar, I am a superhero in a cape, dashing from room to room at the speed of light.
– Mommy’s Khimar, Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow
A young Muslim girl of maybe around 6-years old takes the reader through a glimpse of her imagination of how she feels when she wears her mother’s khimar (also known as hijab). Her mother’s closet is filled with beautiful colours and materials of khimar, and out of the lot, she loves the yellow one. With the yellow khimar, she believes she shines like the sun, she dives and becomes a shooting star, she wears it as a queen’s golden train, she spreads her golden wings and protects her baby brother like a mama bird, and wears it as a superhero cape flying and finally landing in her father’s arms. And at night, she goes to sleep thinking of her mother’s khimar, soaking in the smell of coconut oil in her mother’s hair, the cocoa butter on her skin, and even the cinnamon in her favourite dessert, along with remembering her loved ones.
In Mommy’s Khimar, the author showcases the diversity in the family and community by bringing in people of different race and faith. Though the young girl is raised as a Muslim with her Muslim mother, her maternal grandmother is a Christian. This concept provides a wonderful opportunity to open discussion and educate the readers and young children especially of those being brought up within the Muslim communities and families.
I must say I was reminded of the following hadith when coming across the girl’s imagination of the queen’s golden trail:
Ibn ‘Umar reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) having said:
Allah will not look upon him who trails his garment out of pride.
(Sahih Muslim, Book 37, Hadith 68)
Although the book doesn’t allude to arrogance or pride or conceit–in fact, it did the opposite, by showing humility in the mannerisms of the characters–it did, in my opinion, pull a string at my heart. Personally, I don’t prefer the hijab being associated with concepts of royal nature, like ‘queen’ and ‘princess’, as it rips away the essence of hijab. Wearing the hijab, or covering one’s awrah with the conditions of hijab, is a commandment from Allah, and should be treated as such.
Nevertheless, the author has genuinely represented her community in a place where representation matters. And the illustrator has worked creatively in order to bring about the vision of the story into light.
Have you read Mommy’s Khimar, or any other children’s book related to hijab?