The biggest holiday of the Muslim year, Eid al-Adha, begins on Thursday, Dec. 20, this year. Because it follows the Islamic lunar calendar, it will move 11 days earlier next year and every succeeding year on the Gregorian calendar. Its timing within a week of Christmas happens only once every three decades.
For Ohio author Asma Mobin-Uddin, it's a sweet coincidence that might bring wider interest and readership to her new children's book, "The Best Eid Ever."
"We need some sweetness," she said. "It's a special and holy week for a lot of faiths. These are holidays people need to know about, and there's not a lot of books to fill that need."
But she first wrote the book, her second, for Muslim-American kids like her own, after she had trouble finding books that reflected their experience.
"The Best Eid Ever" is about Anessa, a young girl who's sad because her parents are away making the Hajj pilgrimage, the once-in-a-lifetime trip to Mecca that is a requirement of their faith. Eid honors the steadfastness, obedience and love of God of Abraham, whose story is told in the Koran and the Bible, and many Hajj rituals relate to Abraham.
Anessa is cheered by her new holiday outfit and the traditional foods made by her grandmother, but is later distressed at their prayer hall to see two girls in ill-fitting clothes. She befriends them, learns they are refugees from a war-torn country and cooks up a plan with her grandmother to make their holiday "the best ever." . . .
Now living with her family in the Columbus suburb of Dublin, Mobin-Uddin earned undergraduate and medical degrees at Ohio State University. She lived in Westlake while doing her internship and residency at Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital in Cleveland and her husband, Cleveland native John Kashubeck, trained at Mt. Sinai Medical Center.
She took time off from her pediatric practice to be home with her three young children, but found time for community work, including two years as president of the Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, and for writing, especially with the aim of opening dialogue between faiths. . .
The publisher initially was concerned about being able to place her work in mass-market bookstores. But it has proved successful with both Muslim and general readerships, and has drawn enthusiastic support from educators and librarians.
"There are pockets of hope and positiveness," she said of efforts to promote understanding between Muslims and other faiths. "I'm not sure we have more understanding as a country, but I see people wanting to share and understand what the faith is about. With people who do reach out and make the effort, we build a lot of bridges."
For more information, go to www.asmamobinuddin.com