I am often asked the question, how did I come up with the idea of Aamina and Yousuf?
Well, here I would like to share with you some of my journey.
When my daughter Zahrah was just 5 years old (she’s 14 now, so we’re talking a while ago!), I searched for toys to support what I was teaching her about Islam. I’m a big believer that children learn best through play. I did an intensive search and could not find anything that was fun. I wanted Zahrah to learn about Islam everywhere and anywhere – I wanted her learning to be effortless and fun. I wanted her to have a ‘playmate’ that she could relate to, learn from, and that she could easily carry with her everywhere.
It was then that I decided that I would create two cuddly, talking dolls – now better known as Aamina and Yousuf.
At the time I was working full time, and I could not fully pursue this huge project. It was only after I had my twin boys Zain and Sami, that I decided to have more balance in my life, and have more time for my family.
And so, when my maternity leave ended, I decided not to return to my job at an investment bank in the city of London, and made the decision instead to start my own venture. I picked up where I left off, and continued with the doll project.
I started to design the dolls – what they would look like, and what they would wear. I then wrote the script for what I wanted each doll to say – this came relatively easy to me, as being a parent I felt I was well positioned to know what basics of Islam I wanted to teach young children as an introduction, and what most other parents would also appreciate.
Surah Fatiha and Surah Ikhlas were at the top of my list – and not just in Arabic, but in English too – so that with time, children will begin to have an understanding of these two beautiful and important verses that form the backbone of our faith.
I wanted my children to develop an understanding that Allah is everywhere and to remember him in everything they do – whether it’s sneezing, greeting someone, beginning something or just being thankful. So I came up with a few very simple sentences in an effort to demonstrate the meaning of some key Islamic phrases.
When my children were babies and winding down for bed, I would always sing to them La ilaha illalah Muhama-dur-rasulullah to the popular nursery rhyme tune of Twinkle Twinkle little star – so of course I had to include this. Not being content with just one song, I went on to write a few more, always sticking to fun nursery rhyme tunes. I found this quite challenging but very fun!
I thoroughly enjoyed creating Aamina and her brother Yousuf.
Alhamdulillah they have stood the test of time and continue to be much loved by both children and their parents. These two dolls formed the beginning of a long, unexpected and blessed journey.
See more of Aamina and Yousuf at www.desidollcompany.com