Catholic Book Review: My Muslim Friend: A Young Catholic Learns about Islam by Donna Jean Kemmetmueller, FSP
In today’s complex world, we have an ever growing need to learn about and understand other cultures and religions. Images of war and terrorism enter into our homes on a daily basis. Stereotypes abound, frequently leaving children fearful of the unknown. Education, socialization and efforts to seek greater understanding need to occur at every level of our society if there is to be any hope for lasting peace in our world.
A newly published book by Jean Kemmetmueller, FSP goes to great lengths to educate Catholic families about the Muslim communities living in our country and about their religion, Islam. My Muslim Friend: A Young Catholic Learns about Islam (Pauline Books and Media, November, 2006, hardcover, 48 pages) shares the story of two young girls and their friendship. Mary is a Catholic living in a family committed to truly living out their Christian faith. Mary’s friend Aisha, is a Muslim. This lovely book explores the respectful friendship between these two seventh graders who are both actively participating in their faiths.
In story form, My Muslim Friend: A Young Catholic Learns About Islam explores the similarities and differences between the faiths of the two girls. From basic church teachings to cultural celebrations and holidays, the book lays out many common threads and carefully explains the divergences in topical relation to one another. For example, as Mary is seen reading and learning about her bible, Aisha’s Qur’an is described. In sidebar format, while the story runs through the center of each page, a tremendous amount of detailed information on both religions is in clear, understandable language. Wonderful illustrations by Laura Jacobsen do wonders to convey both the story and the concepts being explained.
In the end, Mary and Aisha learn to appreciate those things they share in common, as well as the differences which make them each unique. From my own close friendship with a Jewish woman, I have learned that sometimes learning about someone else’s religion can spur you to take more interest and concern in learning about your own faith traditions. This book opens with a wonderful foreword by Reverend Canon Francis V. Tiso, Ph.D. and concludes with helpful resources for Catholic parents and educators. While aimed at middle school readers ages nine through twelve, I feel the book has validity for both younger children and the adults who love them and hope to spread understanding and compassion in our world.
Click here for more information on My Muslim Friend: A Young Catholic Learns About Islam.
(© 2011 Lisa Hendey)