1001 amazing inventions from the muslim world

Last Thursday i attended the teacher preview night
for National Geographic Museum’s 1001 Inventions that just opened in DC.
This exhibition has had over 2 million visitors after hitting
New York, London, LA, Istanbul & Abu Dhabi.
And now it is HERE!

1001 Inventions transports you into a bazaar of ideas.

In this exhibition you’ll find connections
to modern day technologies in the realms of
travel & architecture,
education & games,
health & beauty,
art & design,
astronomy & agriculture
and much more,
all from the Golden Age of Muslim civilization
which lasted from the 7th to 17th centuries.

i read somewhere that inventors and their inventions
are like a line of people with buckets of knowledge,
where each inventor takes from previous inventors buckets.
Inventors use the knowledge of those before,
add their own ideas,
maybe mixing in bits and pieces from other disciplines,
to improve upon the stream of human knowledge
or create something new.
During the Golden Age, there were LOTS of buckets a-pourin’
from Spain, deep into Africa, all the way across to China.

A model Al Jazari’s massive Elephant Clock and Ibn Firnas’ hang glider.

One of the inventors featured in this exhibition is Ibn Firnas
who hung in the air for more than 10 minutes in his hang glider,
paving the way for the Wright Brothers,
almost seven centuries before Leonardo da Vinci
made his famous drawings of bird-inspired flying machines.

“Merriam” Al-Astrulabiya made astrolabes,
complex devices used to tell time and navigate,
like a hand-held mini computer predating GPS by thousands of years.
Al-Astrulabiya was highly educated
and had a job working for the Sultan of modern day Syria
in a time when many European women couldn’t even own property.

Pick up the receiver and let Al Jahiz tell you a little something.

Learn about the rags to riches tale of writer and scientist, Al Jahiz,
an African man who grew up in Basra (Iraq)
who later became an adviser to the Caliph in 9th century Baghdad.
Al Jahiz wrote nearly 200 books that spanned science, literature, theology and politics.

1001 Inventions is a text-heavy exhibit
more suitable for older children and adults,
but there are a good deal of interactive features
that stand out making the exhibit available for a younger audience:

Ibn Firnas Glider Game

Flap your arms like a bird
and help Ibn Firnas fly as far as he can
while collecting strong but little cups of (probably Turkish) coffee for energy
and avoiding pesky obstacles.

You’ve got just two minutes to
use the joystick to guide this early Muslim man
throughout a home of today
to find influences from the early Muslim world.

Spin the globe to listen to Muslim explorers, like Zheng He,
tell you about their international exploits.

1001 Inventions will be in DC at the National Geographic Museum
( 1145 17th Street NW Washington, DC, 20036 )
until 3 February 2013.
Museum admission for adults is $8,
with a $2 discount for museum members, military, seniors,
students, and groups of 25 or more.
Admission for children 5-12 is $4,
while school and youth groups 18 and under are free.

Not to be missed is the free 1001 Inventions Family Festival
on September 8, 2012 from 10 AM – 4 PM
with lots of hands-on activities,
artist demonstrations,
dance workshops,
music performances,
and an outdoor arts and crafts bazaar.

And if you do miss it,
you can still check out the family workshops once a month on Saturdays at 1 PM.
There are also drop-in workshops daily at 2 PM.
If you can get a group together, they will do the workshops
at a time better suited for your group.

As if that isn’t enough, there are lots of other events related to the exhibition:

1001 Inventions is the kind of exhibition that would definitely benefit
from some preparatory exploration with the kids,
so download the elementary and middle school educator guides.
Heck! Download them even if you can’t go!

This exhibition is subtitled “Discover the Golden Age of Muslim Civilization”,
but it’s not a “Muslim thing”.
In many cases Muslim scientists — as any good scientist will do —
used prior sources of knowledge
(why reinvent the wheel, right?)
while working along side other scientists from across the globe.
This exhibit is about shedding light and providing perspective
on Muslim contributions to the world
during what must have been an amazing time to be alive
and how these once-forgotten innovations have helped shaped our world today.

There is something at 1001 Inventions for lovers of
math, science, technology, medicine, agriculture, art and history
There’s something for everyone!

If you do nothing else before you go (or not), watch this!:

ramadan and eid books for children

here’s a mix of mostly picture books
with a few non-fiction books, activity books,
and even a young adult (13+) novel thrown in.
i have read most of them with my children,
but not all.
look for them in your local library,
at your favorite islamic bookstore
or online book retailer.

Amira’s Totally Chocolate World, by J. Samia Mair
Bestest. Ramadan. Ever. by Medeia Sharif
Celebrate Ramadan & Eid al-Fitr, by Deborah Heiligman
Celebrating Ramadan, by Diane Hoyt-Goldsmith
Eid and Ramadan Songs, by Fawzia Gillani Williams
Magid Fasts for Ramadan, by Mary Matthews
Moon Watchers: Shirin’s Ramadan Miracle, by Reza Jalali
My First Ramadan, by Karen Katz
My Ramadan Fun Book (from Goodword Books)
The Night of the Moon : a Muslim Holiday Story, by Hena Khan
A Party in Ramadan, by Asma Mobin-Uddin
Ramadan, by Susan L. Douglass
Ramadan, by Suhaib Hamid Ghazi
Ramadan and Id-ul-Fitr, by Rosalind Kerven
Ramadan and the Quran: Quran Stories for Little Hearts (from Goodword Books)
Ramadan Moon by Naima Bint Robert
Rashad’s Ramadan and Eid al-Fitr by Lisa Bullard
Under the Ramadan Moon, by Silvia Whitman
Welcome Ramadan (from Goodword Books)
The White Nights of Ramadan, by Maha Addasi

are there some that you like that are not on this list? where do you find your favorite islamic books for children?

smart ark brings excellent design to creative learning and imaginative play

i just put up three beautiful art prints in our homeschool room
designed by UK-based smart ark,
who have an interesting line-up of games, books and posters for the muslim child.
one art-print pairs the english alphabet with arabic words,
like duaa for the letter-d and imaan for the letter-i.
another gives a simple, modern take on arabic numbers from one to ten.
the last one illustrates the journey of the pilgrim during the hajj.
smart ark art prints pack 2
i just LOVE simple, uncluttered, islam-inspired educational tools that delight the eye and inspire the mind.

smart ark

make sure you check out their fun stuff section for lots of cool printables.
i downloaded their cute ramadan calendar for next year!
smark ark ramadan calendar

where have you found well-designed islamic products for kids?

30 children’s activities for ramadan

listed here are 30 ramadhan activities
from all over the web
in one place.

if you appreciate this
gathering of information,
make dua’ for my family and i
that our sins are forgiven this ramadhan, inshaAllah!

  1. sight the moon

    try to sight the moon from a elevated location in your neighborhood.
    memorize and say the dua for sighting the new moon.

  2. review the pillars of islam

    recycle paper towel or toilet paper rolls to create the five pillars of islam.

  3. good deeds calendar

    make a calendar of good deeds that children can do everyday.
    they can be as simple as hugging a sibling or eating everything on their plate at dinner.
    SmartArk has an cute, colorful printable good deeds Ramadan calendar.

  4. star and crescent cookies

    bake star and crescent sugar cookies for your neighbors and attach a little note about ramadhan.

  5. sadaqah jar

    make and decorate a sadaqah jar or box from, for example, an empty pasta sauce jar or tissue box.
    collect coins from around the house, in the neighborhood, or allowances.
    give it to a needy person at eid.

  6. fasting chain

    use construction paper to cut strips and make a fasting chain for the family or each person fasting.
    you can make 29/30 strips to countdown or add on a strip a day.

  7. prepare to break the fast

    give your child the responsibility to fill a small dish with dates each evening and distribute the dates to each fasting person at iftar.

  8. pillowcase prayer rugs

    decorate a pillow case with fabric paint.

  9. make your own dhikr beads

    use string and plastic beads to make dhikr beads.
    try to remember as many names of Allah as you can.

  10. ka’ba pop-up cards

    make ka’ba pop-up cards for ramadhan or eid to give to friends and family

  11. tin can luminary

    make your own tin can luminary using a can opener, hammer and screwdriver to make the holes.
    light the luminary during the night of lailat alQadr and last 10 nights of ramadan.

  12. moon phase calendar

    there are several variations of varying complexity.
    some even include sewing.
    the most simple one is make a calendar
    from dark-colored paper or poster board
    and cut out the shape of the moon every day.

  13. read books about ramadhan and eid

    check out library books about ramadhan and eid
    or buy them for your own library.

    Ramadan Moon by Naima Bint Robert

    A Party in Ramadan, by Asma Mobin-Uddin
    The White Nights of Ramadan, by Maha Addasi
  14. good deeds list

    make a list of good things that each child wants to do during ramadhan
    then try to do at least one of them each day;
    or help your child keep a list of their own good deeds during ramadhan.

  15. ramadhan drum

    recycle an oatmeal container or coffee can to make a drum to wake up your family for sahoor or use for ramadhan songs and eid celebrations.

  16. light up the house

    string up lights inside or outside the house and turn them on every night at maghrib.

  17. eid costume party

  18. kid’s iftar / sahoor

    let the children plan, shop for, and then prepare suhoor and / or iftar.

  19. make a ramadan bookmark

    since we’ll be reading the entire quran, make a beautiful handmade bookmark to help keep your place.

  20. memorize ayat 2:183

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

    O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint

  21. memorize the dua’ for breaking the fast

    اللَّهُمَّ اِنِّى لَكَ صُمْتُ وَبِكَ امنْتُ [وَعَلَيْكَ تَوَكَّلْتُ] وَعَلَى رِزْقِكَ اَفْطَرْتُ
    O Allah! I fasted for You and I believe in You [and I put my trust in You] and I break my fast with Your sustenance


    اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسأَلُكَ بِرَحْمَتِكَ الَّتِي وَسِعَتْ كُلَّ شَيْءٍ أَنْ تَغْفِرَ لِي
    O Allah, I ask You by Your mercy which envelopes all things, that You forgive me.

  22. ramadhan words

    define, write and use these words on a daily basis: sawm, suhoor, iftar, hilal, ramadhan, hijri calendar, eid ulFitr, zakah / zakat ulFitr, salatul taraweeh, ihtikaf

  23. learn about the phases of the moon

    the moon seems to change by dr. franklyn m. branley

  24. read from quran why we fast ramadhan

    AlBaqarah 2:183-5

    يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ كُتِبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الصِّيَامُ كَمَا كُتِبَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَتَّقُونَ

    أَيَّامًا مَّعْدُودَاتٍ فَمَن كَانَ مِنكُم مَّرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَى سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ وَعَلَى الَّذِينَ يُطِيقُونَهُ فِدْيَةٌ طَعَامُ مِسْكِينٍ فَمَن تَطَوَّعَ خَيْرًا فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ لَّهُ وَأَن تَصُومُواْ خَيْرٌ لَّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ

    شَهْرُ رَمَضَانَ الَّذِيَ أُنزِلَ فِيهِ الْقُرْآنُ هُدًى لِّلنَّاسِ وَبَيِّنَاتٍ مِّنَ الْهُدَى وَالْفُرْقَانِ فَمَن شَهِدَ مِنكُمُ الشَّهْرَ فَلْيَصُمْهُ وَمَن كَانَ مَرِيضًا أَوْ عَلَى سَفَرٍ فَعِدَّةٌ مِّنْ أَيَّامٍ أُخَرَ يُرِيدُ اللّهُ بِكُمُ الْيُسْرَ وَلاَ يُرِيدُ بِكُمُ الْعُسْرَ وَلِتُكْمِلُواْ الْعِدَّةَ وَلِتُكَبِّرُواْ اللّهَ عَلَى مَا هَدَاكُمْ وَلَعَلَّكُمْ تَشْكُرُونَ

    O ye who believe! Fasting is prescribed to you as it was prescribed to those before you, that ye may (learn) self-restraint,

    (Fasting) for a fixed number of days; but if any of you is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed number (Should be made up) from days later. For those who can do it (With hardship), is a ransom, the feeding of one that is indigent. But he that will give more, of his own free will,- it is better for him. And it is better for you that ye fast, if ye only knew.

    Ramadhan is the (month) in which was sent down the Qur’an, as a guide to mankind, also clear (Signs) for guidance and judgment (Between right and wrong). So every one of you who is present (at his home) during that month should spend it in fasting, but if any one is ill, or on a journey, the prescribed period (Should be made up) by days later. Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put to difficulties. (He wants you) to complete the prescribed period, and to glorify Him in that He has guided you; and perchance ye shall be grateful.

  25. moon and crescent beads

    using craft wire, shape the wire into moon and crescent shapes. add colorful beads. use ribbon to hang from the ceiling.
    from ramadan crafts for kids by dana jadallah and dana amer

  26. ramadhan / eid around the world

    learn about ramadhan / eid around the world.
    celebrate ramadan and eid al-fitr with praying, fasting, and charity
    by deborah heiligman and neguin Yavari
    celebrate ramadan and eid al-fitr with praying, fasting, and charity

  27. ramadhan mosaic suncatcher

    ramadan mosaic suncatcher

  28. make a fanoos


  29. henna hands

    trace your child’s hands on paper. let them put henna on their hands with a red or brown marker.

  30. enjoy eid ulFitr!

sources and more inspiration:

Free Mini Mu’min Ramadan Kit:

Free Ramadan Activity Packs and decorations for both Ramadan and Eid:

Eid Cards, Crafts, Cakes & Cookies from JannahSteps:

30 Days of Ramadan Crafty Challenge from a Crafty Arab:

Fun Stuff to do with your children during Islamic holidays or anytime:

Day-by-Day Activities for Ramadan