Session # 7 Islam - Sitti's Secrets

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					Session # 7 Islam - Sitti’s Secrets
Overview
“Sitti’s Secrets” by Naomi Shihab Nye. An American Muslim girl misses her "sitti," or
Palestinian grandmother, who lives across the ocean. Explore Islamic culture with
geometrical designs.

Supplies:
Book
Copies of Take Home Page
Copies of the Geometrical Design Coloring Page
Arab décor for room set up
Supplies for chosen Activities

Set Up:
Decorate the room with Arab décor – a turkish rug, furniture removed, brass lamps,
mirrors, Arabian horse posters, camel pictures, desert pictures and posters, Sinbad
themes, etc.

Entering Activity:

Color the geometric design, enclosed, or use any geometrical design coloring page.

Sharing Circle:
After the children have arrived, ask them to gather in a circle for the story. Tell them that
this session is devoted to a religion called “Islam.” People who practice the religion of
Islam are called “Muslims.”
Read “Sitti’s Secrets.”

Activities:
1) Getting Ready to Pray – When Muslims go into a mosque, they take off their shoes to
show their respect. They think of Allah. Then they wash themselves carefully. The
washing is called “wudu.” It is done in a certain order. Bring basins of water into the
classroom and perform the washing in this order:
1. Hands
2. Mouth
3. Nose
4. Face
5. Arms
6. Head
7. Neck
8. Ears
9. Feet
2) Make a prayer rug – Use a paper bag that has been cut to lay flat and open. Crinkle it
up to create a “fabric” like feel. Have the children cut a fringe on each end, then decorate
it. Children may wish to glue their previously colored geometrical design page onto their
prayer rug, or make other geometrical designs.

3) Continue coloring the geometric design coloring page and introduce the idea that
Muslims do not generally draw human figures or animals. Their art work is made up of
flowers and richly patterned shapes based on geometrical design.

One way in which Muslims use this beautiful patterning is to decorate their books.




One of the ways that Muslims decorate their buildings is by writing the words from the
Qur'an or the sayings of Muhammad (Pbuh) in beautiful calligraphy on the tiles.




Rugs, cushions and bags would all be decorated in this style. The rugs and cushions are
often used as furniture, especially in the desert regions where there is little wood
available.

Head dresses which are worn traditionally by men to protect them from the hot sun, were
often beautifully patterned. From: www.atschool.eduweb.co.uk/carolrb/islam/art
4) Write a letter or make a card for their grandparent. Where do their grandparents
live? Do the children miss them?

5) Play marbles, as the little girl’s cousins and she play in the courtyard. Create a circle
and try to knock marbles out of the circle. Or play another classic children’s game which
children around the world can play together, such as tag, or jump rope, or hopscotch.

6) Balancing on their head, as the women balance the jugs of water that they bring
home from the spring. Use bean bags to start, and progress to bigger pillows, and even a
milk jug of water.

Closing: We all want to learn from our elders and love our family members. We miss
them when we can’t see them often.

Snack: Pita bread, similar to the most common form of Arabic bread, optional. Add a
spread, like peanut butter and jelly, hummus, or other favorite. Lemonade is mentioned in
the story, as made by Mona’s “sitti.” Cucumbers and yogurt are also mentioned.
Geometrical Design Coloring Page
Background for Teachers:

About Geometric Patterns in Islamic Art
“Geometric motifs are popular with Muslim artists and designers in all parts of the
world, at all times, and for decorating every surface, whether walls or floors, pots or
lamps, book covers or textiles. As Islam spread from nation to nation and region to
region, artists combined their penchant for geometry with pre-existing traditions,
creating a new and distinctive Islamic art. This art expressed the logic and order inherent
in the Islamic vision of the universe.

Although the shapes and structures are based on the geometry of Euclid and other Greek
mathematicians, Islamic artists used them to create visual statements about religious
ideas. One explanation of this practice was that Mohammad had warned against the
worship of idols; this prohibition was understood as a commandment against
representation of human or animal forms. Geometric forms were an acceptable substitute
for the proscribed forms.

An even more important reason is that geometric systems and Islamic religious values,
though expressed in different forms, say similar things about universal values. In Islamic
art, infinitely repeating patterns represent the unchanging laws of God. Muslims are
expected to observe strict rules of behavior exactly as they were originally set forth by
Mohammad in the seventh century. These rules are known as the "Pillars of Faith":

 1.     pronouncing the creed (chanting an affirmation of the existence of one God and
      that God is Allah)
 2.     praying, in a precisely defined ritual of words and motions, five times a day
 3.     giving alms
 4.     fasting during the month of Ramadan (time varies according to lunar calendar)
 5.     making, during a lifetime, at least one pilgramage to Mecca


The strict rules for construction of geometric patterns provide a visual analogy to
religious rules of behavior. The geometric patterns used in Islamic art are aggressively
two-dimensional. Artists did not want to represent the three-dimensional physical world.
They preferred to create an art that represents an ideal, spiritual truth. Ideals are better
represented as two-dimensional than three-dimensional.

The star was the chosen motif for many Islamic decorations. In Islamic iconography the
star is a regular geometric shape that symbolizes equal radiation in all directions from a
central point. All regular stars--whether they have 6, 8, 10, 12, or 16 points-- are created
by a division of a circle into equal parts. The center of the star is center of the circle from
which it came, and its points touch the circumference of the circle. The center of a circle
is an apt symbol of a religon that emphasizes one God, and symbol of the role of Mecca,
the center of Islam, toward which all Muslims face in prayer. The rays of a star reach out
in all directions, making the star a fitting symbol for the spread of Islam.

Many of the patterns used in Islamic art look similar, even though they decorate different
objects. Artists did not seek to express themselves, but rather, to create beautiful objects
for everyone to enjoy. It takes considerable experience in analyzing Islamic patterns
before discovering that seldom are two designs exactly alike. That is worrisome to
Westerners because of the premium placed in the West on originality in evaluating an
artist. Not so in Islam; there the artist sees himself as a humble servant of the community,
using his skills and imagination to express awe of Allah, the one God, eternal and all-
powerful.

From the essay “Islamic Belief Made Visual” from www.askAsia.org Author: Jane
Norman.
                             Picture Book World Religions: Islam

Take Home Page
Today we learned about the religion called Islam. People who practice the religion of
Islam are called “Muslims.” We read “Sitti’s Secret ” by Naomi Shihab Nye. An
American Muslim girl misses her "sitti," or Palestinian grandmother, who lives across the
ocean.
Islamic art work is made up of flowers and richly patterned shapes based on geometrical
design. One of the ways that Muslims decorate their prayer rugs is by beautiful
calligraphy or geometric shapes.




                             Picture Book World Religions: Islam

Take Home Page
Today we learned about the religion called Islam. People who practice the religion of
Islam are called “Muslims.” We read “Sitti’s Secret ” by Naomi Shihab Nye. An
American Muslim girl misses her "sitti," or Palestinian grandmother, who lives across the
ocean.
Islamic art work is made up of flowers and richly patterned shapes based on geometrical
design. One of the ways that Muslims decorate their prayer rugs is by beautiful
calligraphy or geometric shapes.

				
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