Book Excerpt from
Where the Ghost Camel Grins: Muslim Fables for Families of All Faiths
by Linda “iLham” Barto
Where the Ghost Camel Grins is a delightful book of nine fables and forty-six, watercolor illustrations. Written at a sixth-grade reading level, its purpose is to teach moral and spiritual lessons through entertaining stories. This excerpt is from the story “The Whisper Cat.” A cat, who seems to talk in whispery sounds, finds a pouch of rocks. The cat leads an old imam out into the desert to find two boys that have fallen into a pit. The “whisper cat” throws the bag into the pit to alert the boys that help has arrived.
Soon the parents and their son were accompanying Imam Yusuf back out into the desert. The whisper cat still sat marking the spot in the vast sands. A loop was made on one end of the rope and thrown down into the hole. The other end of the rope was tied to the camel’s saddle. Soon two dirty and bruised but very grateful boys were pulled from the hole.
“We were searching for geodes,” one boy explained, “when the ground suddenly fell out from under us.”
“It’s some sort of shaft or old, dry well,” the other boy joined in. In his hand, he clutched the green brocade pouch.
“Is that your pouch?” asked Imam Yusuf.
“Yes. It flew from my hand as I began to fall.”
The first boy picked up. “Three nights passed, and then the pouch fell in.”
“It is filled with geodes?” the imam asked.
“Yes,” the boy clutching the pouch verified. “My father is a jewelry craftsman, and he slices, polishes, and mounts small geodes for the wonderful crystals inside.”
“I should have recognized them myself,” the imam confessed. “Geodes look ordinary on the outside. I had forgotten the beauty inside them. Allah has prepared this treasure for those who seek it. That is much the way of the Qur’an. It may look like an ordinary book for those who do not know of the beauty inside, but those who seek will discover the miracle. Allah, subhana wa ta’ala, provides signs in nature. The geode is one of His many signs.”
Where the Ghost Camel Grins is available from the Muslim American store or from the author’s website www.Lit-by-Linda.com
Fables are a way of telling stories to teach a moral lesson. Children understand things in more abstract ways than we, as adults, can really appreciate. They can absorb moral information if it is presented in a story that has nothing directly to do with the situation. For that reason, storytelling is a tradition that has existed since the dawn of humanity.
Many of these stories grew to become systems of mythology. Some became collected as fairy-tales. What Linda Barto has achieved with Where the Ghost Camel Grins is the unique fusion of Islamic morality and traditionally Muslim cultural imagery with Euro-American storytelling structure and patterns to make a fusion of Muslim American fables that are suitable for the expression of universal morality to children of all faiths.