When you can’t find just the toy for your child you have a choice to either settle for less than perfect or make it yourself. Umm Sulaiman wanted her son’s toys to be 100% halal. And because there was not much available she designed and produced her own lovely baby rattles and adorable faceless dolls. But Umm Sulaiman didn’t stop there. She wanted all Muslim children to be able to find their perfect toys and so she opened Al-Muttaqun – the online Islamic shop selling children’s toys, books and educational aids, containing no music or face images, made according to highest quality standards and fair trade.
Could you tell us more about Al-Muttaqun? How did it all start?
I am a revert and a single mother to a 3-year- old little boy MashAllah tabarak Allah. What inspired me to set up my business were the difficulties I faced when trying to buy toys and various items for my son that did not contain images or music. As parents it is our Islamic responsibility to raise and nurture our children upon the Quran and Sunnah and to keep away from that which is impermissible. The Prophet (SAW) warned us against bringing images into the house and said that this is a sin and that it deprives a person of good: “The Angels do not enter the house in which there is a dog or there are pictures.” (Sahih: Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
The idea of setting up Al Muttaqun was with me for a couple of years, but I had to be patient and wait for the right time. It has been a long process setting up my online shop due to my situation of being a single mother and funding this all myself, but Alhamdulliah it has been a pleasure and I seek to help the Ummah and attain Allah’s (SWT) pleasure and reward in the hereafter InshaAllah.
Al Muttaqun, is more than just an online shop for me – it is also a place of dawah and I hope for it to be a resource for both parents and children, Islamic schools, nurseries, masjids and teachers InshaAllah!
Is it only you running the shop or have you got any helpers? How do you manage running the business whilst being a full-time mum?
Yes, I run my business by myself whilst juggling motherhood as a single mother – but Alhamduliah I have some wonderful friends who are very supportive of what I am doing and help me in different ways, which I am so grateful for – may Allah reward them with good!
Your shop also sells home-education aids. Is homeschooling your choice for your son’s learning?
I really admire and support brothers and sisters who homeschool, MashAllah tabarak Allah. It is a big responsibility and is not easy – but it is very important how we raise and nurture our children, especially in the times we live in today. I homeschool my son and send him to a homeschooling tuition club run by my local masjid MashAllah Tabarak Allah. I also have some exciting new homeschooling and Islamic educational workbooks coming to the website very soon InShaAllah, so keep posted!
Your toys are not only 100% halal and 100% adorable, but they are also handmade locally in the UK, which adds to their goodness. Could you tell me about them? How they are made?
JazakAllah Khair for your kind words and lovely feedback Sister, it is very much appreciated! I have designed my own line of faceless soft toys and baby rattles with the help of the lovely and very talented toy maker based here in England. She hand-makes and stitches them all herself with a lot of love and care! I would explain her what I wanted and how I would like the toy to look and then she would make prototypes for each toy, sometimes we would get it right first time and other times we would make some amendments – until I was completely happy with the final product. Every toy is CE tested and marked, which is a legal requirement when manufacturing and selling toys here in the EU.
What is your professional background?
I have not worked since having my son until now, but before I entered Islam I had a good career in London running Spa Break Online Business – which I think gave me the tools I have today. I’ve always aspired to work for myself and being a Muslim woman here in the west it is hard to find a job that is both halal and home based, allowing me to home educate my son and maintain my home, Alhamdulilah. I don’t have a degree or any design experience, but I did do a teaching assistant course when my son was younger and I have done some work experience in a primary school and I also used to volunteer and help out at my local mosque’s Islamic and Arabic School. All this helped me understand children and their learning needs and requirements, both in deen and dunya.
What was your favourite toy when you were a child?
I will always remember my first teddy bear, it was dark brown with a white nose and a tartan bow – it was only small but I would take it everywhere with me! My line of soft toys is actually called: “My First… Teddy Bear, Bunny Rabbit, Dinosaur, Camel, Elephant”. I think most people will always remember their first and favourite soft toy!
How do you source other products featured in your shop?
I have carefully selected all the toys and books that are on my website, to ensure they are in accordance with the Quran and Sunnah. It hasn’t been an easy task for many reasons. Trying to find products that do not contain music and are faceless can be quite challenging. When sourcing from abroad you have to look at the cost of shipping it into the country and even the exchange rate. Other than this, there are some items that are just not out there, which is why I had my soft toys made and I have some more projects in the pipeline InShaAllah.
Al-Muttaqun supports Ummah In Need – a charity organization providing help and relief for Syria. Is this cause close to your heart?
Ummah In Need is a charity local to where I live, that I have been donating to for a few years now MashAllah tabarak Allah. It is very close to my heart for many reasons and it is so nice to know that 100% of the aid is going directly to the Syrian refugees. The work they do is so valuable and beneficial to our Syrian brothers and sisters – may Allah aid them in their goodness and reward them with the good of the hereafter, ameen.
There is also the “We Support” section on the website – these are beneficial resources that I help promote, as I love what they do and want to share it with the Ummah. These are: Elizabeth Lymer, Islamic Author and Rhymer, The Muslim Kids Series – free Islamic kids apps and Little Explorers Magazine. InShaAllah there are more beneficial resources coming very soon, so keep posted!