Hafsah Dabiri is a children’s book author who has recently released a book with Kube Publishing called, My Dad is Always Working, which tells the story of a little boy called Abdullah, who rarely ever sees his dad due to his work commitments. He feels upset when his dad rushes to leave for work in the morning and doesn’t have time to pick him up after school. When his teacher asks him to make a ‘Jazak Allah Khair’ card, the only person he can think to thank is his mum. Throughout the book, Abdullah learns about the meaning of gratitude and this shapes how he starts seeing his father.
Keep scrolling to read about the importance of a children’s book that prioritises Muslim characters as well as what motivated Dibiri to want to write this story.
What inspired you to write this book?
There are a number of sources of inspiration behind this book. First and foremost, my father and my childhood are huge inspirations. I grew up, like a lot of other young children, seeing my dad busy and always working. It wasn’t until I got older that I realised that I hadn’t really appreciated the role he was playing within the house.
I wanted to write a book for children whose parents are working hard to provide for them and to help foster a sense of gratitude and understanding between them.
Do you have any suggestions to help children who may not appreciate their Dad because they’re always working?
Read the book!
A very important hadith that also inspired the book is something the Prophet SAW said: “He who does not thank the people, is not thankful to Allah.”
This shows that in being grateful to Allah (SWT) we really have to appreciate the work of those around us, especially our parents.
What are your thoughts on Black Muslims represented in Muslim & Islamic Literature?
It is important to me that my books feature Black Muslims, especially in terms of children’s literature and the illustrations. This is for two reasons. The first is because representation and seeing oneself within literature and books from a young age can have a huge impact on imagination, dreams and hopes for young people who don’t always get the chance to see themselves within the books. The second is because it’s important for children to see the diversity of the global Muslim community through literature especially if they can’t necessarily see it in their immediate communities.
In terms of My Dad is Always Working, this book is important to me in terms of representation because it depicts an extremely positive and loving relationship between a Black father and son and this completely counters the way the media presents those relationships.
How do you balance the demands of writing with other responsibilities?
For me, writing is a release and a form of escapism. I try to find pockets of time within the week to write, even if it’s only a small amount. I try not to be too strict about how I schedule and balance it as I find that I write better when it’s developed naturally over time. When I get a really good idea, then I tend to write more and for longer.
And if I don’t have any ideas, then instead of forcing myself to write, I would do things to help spark my creativity.
Have you always been a writer?
I have always been a writer in some shape or form. I used to journal regularly which helped me to organise my thoughts. And now writing is a part of my identity.
What authors have inspired you?
One author who has inspired me a lot in terms of not just writing, but also entrepreneurship and innovation, is sister Naima B Roberts. From a young age, I had grown up reading her books and once I began my journey as a writer, she very quickly became a source of inspiration and advice for me. She is a shining example of the impact that words can have in different forms.
The key takeaway you’d like to give?
My key takeaway is that writing is for everyone. It is a form of expression that everyone is capable of utilising and exploring. Even if you’re not interested in writing for others, write for yourself and write the stories that you needed to hear.
What advice would you give to others who wish to write or get in to publishing?
One piece of advice that I would give to others who wish to write, is to write your own story first. It’s normally the story that comes the most naturally to you and tends to be one that a lot of people need/want to hear.
My debut book, Basirah the Basketballer was loosely based on my life and my experiences understanding the will of Allah. It was so nerve-wracking to write and put it out into the world. I didn’t really know if others would benefit from it, but it is such a well-loved book now.
Where can we follow you?
Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @hafsahdabiri for more book updates and writing tips!
By Kube Publishing
For more information, head over to: www.kubepublishing.com