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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Fairy Tales in Different Cultures: Snow White: An Islamic Tale

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This week I am sharing Snow White: An Islamic Tale by Fawzia Gilani. Similar to her version of Cinderella, this picture book was created to teach children about the Islamic religion. It is an adaptation of the original story. I love how she intertwines the Islamic culture into the story and then offers a glossary at the end. I feel it is so important for all of us to understand one another's beliefs so we can find ways to get along and live in peace and want Hazel to understand others as well.
In this version, the wealthy couple has everything they want, except a child. On snowy day the wife falls asleep and dreams of a little girl and when she awakens she makes a du'a to have such a child with the patience of Job, peace of dawn and heart as pure as snow. Within a year she has a daughter and she remembers her dream and prayer on the snowy day and names her Snow White. The family is very happy and they teach Snow White all about their religion and her mother gives her a copy of the Qur'an. By the time Snow White is ten, her mother falls ill and dies. 

Although they find comfort in the Qur'an, Snow White's father wants her to be happier and hopes having the love of a mother again will do it, so he remarries. His new wife is very beautiful and at first she is kind, but soon she starts to mistreat Snow White. When Snow White's father says something about the mistreatment, he mysteriously becomes ill and dies. After his death, the stepmother no longer shows any kindness. She is very vain and asks her jinn (a being created from smokeless fire living in an alternate dimension on earth) who is the fairest of all. The answer is always her until one day the jinn says her beauty cannot compare to Snow White's. At this the stepmother is jealous and angry and calls for a huntsman to kill Snow White and bring back her heart and liver for the stepmother to eat. 

The huntsman tells Snow White what he must do or the stepmother will kill him. She begs him not to kill her and then a wild boar comes by. He kills the boar instead and brings its heart and liver to the stepmother. Snow White runs into the forest and keeps running until she finds a small cottage. No one answers when she knocks and she collapses on the porch into a deep sleep. 

At sundown the residents of the cottage return home. They are seven dwarf women. They find Snow White sleeping and bring her into their cottage. When she awakens she is frightened, but they are kind and introduce themselves. Each has a special quality to their character: wise, brave, forgiving, just, generous, patient, and kind. Snow White finally opens up and tells them her story. They tell her she shall stay with them and they will protect her. Each dwarf teaches Snow White their special skills that go with their characteristic and through the years she mastered them all. 

One year, the stepmother asked the jinn again about who is the fairest and it answered again Snow White. Again she became jealous and angry. She asked the jinn where Snow White was and found out about the cottage with the dwarfs. It was the month of Ramadan and the stepmother prepared some poisonous dates for Snow White. It is wrong to refuse dates to break your fast during Ramadan, so Snow White took them and of course fell to the ground. At this time the dwarfs were coming home and the brave one ran after the stepmother and caught a glimpse of her. The dwarfs took turns taking care of the sleeping Snow White. 

One day a prince came riding by. He saw one of the dwarfs out with the sleeping Snow White. After hearing about Snow White from all the dwarfs he dropped to his knee and recited the Fatiha (the opening chapter of the Qur'an). He then said he would send his mother, the Queen, to visit Snow White. The Queen came with a doctor. Every day the doctor gave Snow White the cordial and every day Snow White stirred a little more. One day she finally opened her eyes. 

The dwarfs were so happy to have Snow White awake. They sent news to the Queen. She came immediately and asked the dwarfs to permit Snow White to marry her son. They agreed. The King and Queen invited many people to the wedding including the stepmother. The day of the wedding the stepmother happened to ask the jinn again and found out the bride to be was Snow White. She comes up with another plan to kill her once and for all. She makes a poisonous comb. The brave dwarf recognizes her and tries to kick her out of the building, but the stepmother locks her in a room and then goes to find Snow White. She disguised herself as a servant and claimed that the Queen had sent her to help with Snow White's hair. However when the vain stepmother saw one of her own hair's out of place, she put the comb to her own head and she fell to the ground. A doctor was sent for and she was attended to during the wedding. 

A few days later the stepmother woke up and was shocked to see Snow White wearing a crown. Snow White told her she would forgive her and recited a verse from the Qur'an. The stepmother recovered and was said to never look in a mirror again. Snow White, the prince and the dwarfs lived happily ever after.